The 34-3 win Monday night over the Kansas City Chiefs has breathed new life into the optimists’ bubble about the improvement of the Patriots’ defense. The defense was able to hold the Chiefs to just 3 points, their best performance of the season, and 334 total net yards, their second-lowest total of the season. The Chiefs converted 46% of their third down tries, but the defense was able to get pressure and come away with 3 sacks and 2 interceptions.
The naysayers though point to the fact that the Patriots played an injury-riddled Chiefs team that was without its starting quarterback and the player who did start, Tyler Palko, has been a journeyman throughout his career. So what was it that we saw Monday night: A good Patriots defense or a bad Chiefs offense?
I have to agree with Tedy Bruschi’s analysis on ESPN Boston when he said that it is a little bit of both. Here’s Bruschi’s thoughts:
…it’s easy to say the Patriots have gone up against a couple of bad offenses. But I’m going to say it’s a little of both. Carter’s emergence, along with Kyle Arrington’s production — and this being done without Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty — you have to give credit when it’s due. These players are getting it done. Was it against Tyler Palko and Mark Sanchez? Yes…
Bad offenses or not, they are still NFL players and the Patriots still have to execute. There have been plenty of upsets this season, a couple of which the Ravens suffered through, so nothing is ever taken for granted. One thing that has been consistent is the defense’s ability to shut it down in the red zone and not allow touchdowns. It all comes down to who scored the most points in the end, and the Patriots’ defense is ranked in the top ten (10th) in the league for fewest points allowed per game (20.3).
Count me among those who have been harping on the yards given up, but the proper view is one in the middle. The yards have to be a concern because that’s time that the opposing team’s offense is on the field and yours is not, but the defense is limiting the amount of points the opposing team is scoring, keeping you in the game. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty should be returning to the lineup soon, as well as Brandon Spikes before the playoffs begin. That should serve to bolster a unit that’s on the rise.
Can the Patriot defense play championship-caliber defense once January rolls around? Time will tell…