Patriots 49 Bills 21: Patriots Second Half Defense Shines Again

Yeah, we know that the Patriots pass defense is, in terms of yardage, one of the worst of all-time in the NFL. At times, the unit has admittedly been frustrating to watch.

However, the unit has been particularly strong in the second half of games during the Patriots' eight game winning streak. The yardage numbers have been improved in the second halves of games, but more importantly, the unit is keeping points off the board.

Here's how the Patriots defense has performed in points allowed over those eight weeks (Note: I've left the Colts game out because that was the exception: the Patriots allowed 21 4th quarter points due to their "prevent"/back-up defense):

Opponent

1st Half

2nd Half

Jets

9

7

Chiefs

3

0

Eagles

13

7

Redskins

20

7

Broncos

16

7

Dolphins

17

7

Bills

21

0

The differences here are pretty dramatic. The Patriots are allowing 14.1 points per game in the 1st half in these seven games. In the second half: just 5.0 points per game. Keep in mind that, aside from the Redskins and arguably the Jets game, all of the points allowed have had little significance on the outcome of the game (they've essentially been "garbage" points).

All of this tells us two things:

  1. The Patriots coaching staff is doing a tremendous job making adjustments
  2. This defense is capable of making key plays down the stretch

Against the Bills, the Patriots second half defense was particularly dominant. They pitched a shutout, while intercepting Ryan Fitzpatrick four different times. Fitzpatrick was 20-28 in the first half, and just 9-18 in the second half. Fitzpatrick had 246 first half passing yards, compared to just 61 in the second half.

The Bills failed to score or have a drive longer than 43 yards in the second half.

Of course, the defense is going to need to get off to a better start than they have the first few weeks in the Divisional Playoffs. But there's no question that the Patriots second half defense has been impressive. So while the Patriots might have one of the statistically worst defensive units of all time, it's pretty clear that in reality, the unit isn't that bad.

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