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Week 4 Patriots vs Panthers: New England struggles with defensive breakdowns; trails Carolina 17-16 at halftime

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Let's recap the first half of New England's week four game.

Carolina Panthers v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers have just headed into the locker rooms of their week four matchup. The close battle currently has the visitors ahead 17-16 in a game that saw the Patriots' offense move the ball well at times but also saw a multitude of defensive breakdowns. Two of those lead to Carolina scores – it will be interesting to see how Bill Belichick, Matt Patricia and the rest of the coaching staff opt to address this issue at halftime.

The game started with the Panthers winning the coin toss and electing to kick the football to New England's offense. Josh McDaniels' unit then gained 52 yards in eight plays – all passes – while displaying tremendous rhythm. However, they stalled near the red zone after two incompletions and a pass short of the sticks. New England settled for a 41-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

The lead, however, would be short lived as the Panthers were able to answer the home team's opening possession with an eight-play drive of their own. A field goal made it a 3-3 game midway through the first period. Even though New England's next possession appeared to start off well an offensive pass interference call as well as a third down sack forced the team to punt.

It did not take long for the team to get the football back, however. On the third play of the Panthers' second possession, Malcolm Butler was able to pick off quarterback Cam Newton to give possession to New England. The Patriots took advantage of the takeaway and marched 74 yards in 11 plays to take a 10-3 lead: On 3rd and goal from the 2-yard line, Tom Brady connected with Chris Hogan to put the team ahead.

Again, however, the lead would not live long. The Panthers answered with a six-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game at 10 on a screen pass, courtesy of a defensive miscommunication between Devin McCourty and Stephon Gilmore. New England was able to respond as well and drove 57 yards in 12 plays. The drive, however, stalled in the Carolina red zone and the Patriots had to settle for another field goal to take a 13-10 lead.

The visitors answered New England's field goal with a touchdown drive – one that saw more defensive breakdowns for the Patriots as the unit has some clear issues with communication in the secondary. Down 17-13, the team responded with a four-play drive that set up a career-long 58-yard field goal attempt for Gostkowski. The All-Pro kicker made it and the two teams head into the locker rooms at 17-16 in the Panthers' favor.

Carolina will receive the second-half kick off.