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2017 NFL Playoffs Patriots vs Steelers snap counts: Dion Lewis last in RB rotation

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The Patriots didn’t rotate much on offense.

Here are our lessons from the New England Patriots snap counts during the AFC Championship Game.

The Patriots have an extremely consistent offensive line

LT Nate Solder, LG Joe Thuney, C David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, and RT Marcus Cannon played all 74 offensive snaps, as did QB Tom Brady. OT Cameron Fleming came on as an additional blocker on 11 plays.

The offense relied on the three-receiver set

WR Julian Edelman (69, 93%) and WR Chris Hogan (67, 91%) played the majority of the offensive snaps, while rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell (48, 65%) wasn’t far behind. TE Martellus Bennett (50, 68%) played his fair share, while TE Matt Lengel didn’t see the field on offense.

WR Danny Amendola (21, 28%) played a reserve role in crunch time, while ST Matthew Slater (3, 4%) came on for the kneel downs.

RB Dion Lewis was last in the rushing rotation

RB LeGarrette Blount (30, 41%) led the running backs, while RB James White (29, 39%) wasn’t far behind. FB James Develin (25, 34%) chipped in a fair share as an extra blocker. What is surprising to me is that RB Dion Lewis only played 17 snaps (23%). It felt like a lot more.

SS Patrick Chung played smaller role than usual

FS Devin McCourty (69, 100%) was the only defender to play every snap, while CB Malcolm Butler (67, 97%) and CB Logan Ryan (67, 97%) were close behind. What’s surprising is that third CB Eric Rowe (60, 87%) outsnapped SS Patrick Chung (57, 83%), which shows how much the Patriots wanted to stop the Steelers receivers.

FS Duron Harmon (33, 48%) played his normal reserve role.

LB Dont’a Hightower was third linebacker in the rotation

The defensive captain was dealing with a shoulder injury and the team opted to rest him as much as possible. Hightower (36, 52%) barely played half of the defensive snaps, and was behind LB Shea McClellin (43, 62%) and LB Kyle Van Noy (42, 61%). Even LB Elandon Roberts (22, 32%) wasn’t far behind Hightower. LB Barkevious Mingo (6, 9%) chipped in a few snaps, too.

DT Vincent Valentine made a big play, but wasn’t very busy

Valentine turned heads for his goal line stop, but he only played 10 snaps (14%) on defense. DT Alan Branch (48, 70%) and DT Malcom Brown (45, 65%) led the charge. The Patriots relied more on their pass rushers after building up an early lead.

EDGE Jabaal Sheard climbs the depth chart

EDGE Trey Flowers (58, 84%) remains “the man” for the Patriots defensive line, but Sheard (38, 55%) saw the snap amount of time as EDGE Rob Ninkovich (38, 55%). EDGE Chris Long saw some the fewest snaps all day with just 20 plays (29%).

The following played 15+ special teams snaps:

Geneo Grissom (19), Brandon Bolden (17), Brandon King (16), Jonathan Jones (16), Barkevious Mingo (16), Matthew Slater (16), Devin McCourty (15), Patrick Chung (15), Stephen Gostkowski (15)