The New England Patriots sit alone in 1st place in the NFL rankings for points against. The Patriots have allowed 16.6 points per game (PPG) this season, ahead of the Seattle Seahawks (16.8 PPG) and the Denver Broncos (18.4 PPG).
Despite ranked ahead of every other team in the league, the Patriots defense has been criticized all season for their performance. Whether it’s garbage time scores, or allowing opposing offenses to lead extended drives and kick field goals, there’s always something to needle.
Patriots CB Logan Ryan, who recorded 7 tackles and an interception against the Broncos, just has to laugh at the perception of the Patriots defense.
#Patriots 5th Quarter: @RealLoganRyan says he knows people had been doubting their defense #WBZ @mytv38 pic.twitter.com/SoL9KliyYK— Joe Giza (@JoeGiza) December 19, 2016
"We're having fun,” Ryan said. “We're getting after the quarterback, we're playing great defense, guys are feeding off of each other, we're joking a lot and guys are just having fun playing ball right now so it's working. Plus, we were doubted all year. You all said we sucked and we heard about their [the Broncos] secondary and their defense so we wanted to come out here and prove something."
The Broncos were able to ride their defense to a Super Bowl championship in 2015 and while the 2016 Patriots defense is nowhere near the same caliber, it’s rewarding for the New England defenders to go into Denver and outplay their competition.
The Patriots defense has clearly stepped up since a week 10 disaster against the Seattle Seahawks. Even though the opposition has consisted of five of the worst ten offenses in the NFL (Rams, 49ers, Ravens, Jets, Broncos), the defense is stuffing the run and forcing turnovers better than it was earlier in the year.
There are two more games in the regular season for the defense to keep proving itself. If the Patriots finish the season 1st in points against, then maybe the defense will get the respect it deserves.