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Patriots vs Cardinals advanced stats: New England’s pass defense bounces back nicely against Kyler Murray and Co.

Related: Patriots vs Cardinals snap counts: Damien Harris is New England’s RB1 even with Sony Michel back

Arizona Cardinals v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

One week after a disappointing loss in Houston, the New England Patriots were able to rebound by beating the Arizona Cardinals to improve to 5-6 on the season. While their 20-17 victory came literally at the last second — Nick Folk was perfect on a game-winning 50-yard field goal as time expired — the team also played some solid football during the 3,599 seconds leading up to it. Well, at least partially.

So with all that said, let’s dive into the advanced statistics from the game. Before analyzing the numbers, however, we will have to explain two of the categories you will meet here that go beyond conventional statistics:

  • OSR: OSR stands for “Offensive Success Rate” and is based on Bill Connelly’s work at SB Nation. It aims to characterize how successful a play was relative to the down and distance in which it took place. For a play be considered a success it will have to gain at least 50 percent of the necessary yardage on first down (i.e. at least 5 yards on 1st-and-10), 70 percent on second down (i.e. at least 7 yards on 2nd-and-10), and 100 percent on both third and fourth down (i.e. at least 10 yards on 3rd-and-10 and 4th-and-10).
  • EPA: EPA stands for “Expected Points Added” and is based on the work done by Ben Baldwin through his website rbsdm.com. EPA aims at measuring the value of individual offensive plays in terms of points by calculating what is expected to happen on an individual play depending on down, distance, field position and game situation and contrasting it with the eventual outcome.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s dig into the stats.

Quarterback

Quarterback statistics

Player Snaps Attempts Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Drops Throwaways Pressure rate Rating OSR EPA/Play
Player Snaps Attempts Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Drops Throwaways Pressure rate Rating OSR EPA/Play
Cam Newton 53 17 9 84 0 2 1 0 30.0% 23.6 47.1% -0.45

Whenever New England struggles offensively, fingers are quickly pointed to Cam Newton — oftentimes unmerited and without much substance behind some claims made against him. However, there is no denying that the Patriots’ starting quarterback did not have his best day versus Arizona. His passer rating 23.6 reflects this, and so do his 47.1 percent success rate and especially his -0.45 EPA.

As always, however, context is important. The first of his two interceptions, for example, was not his fault: running back James White revealed after the game that he blew a protection, leading to the hit that let the football bounce into the arms of linebacker Markus Golden. Still, Newton continues to struggle with consistency in terms of mechanics and ball placement and has certainly had better days in his first season as a Patriot.

Ball carriers

Ball carrier statistics

Player Snaps Attempts Yards Yards after Contact Touchdowns Fumbles OSR EPA/Play
Player Snaps Attempts Yards Yards after Contact Touchdowns Fumbles OSR EPA/Play
Cam Newton 53 5 46 4 0 0 55.6% 0.27
Damien Harris 34 14 47 31 0 0 28.6% -0.29
N'Keal Harry 26 1 -2 0 0 0 0.0% -0.89
James White 20 5 18 7 2 0 40.0% 0.88
Gunner Olszewski 1 11 1 1 0 0 0.0% -1.54

For as erratic as Newton was in his role as quarterback, he was efficient when asked to carry the football — never more so than on a 14-yard scamper to convert a 3rd-and-13 on the game-winning series. Both his EPA (0.27) and OSR (55.6%) were encouraging even on a day that saw some inconsistent production out of New England’s running game as a whole. Even with James White finding the end zone twice, the Patriots’ ground attack was rather mediocre and finished with just 110 yards despite 30 attempts.

Pass receivers

Pass receiver statistics

Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Yards after Catch Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Drops OSR EPA/Play
Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Yards after Catch Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Drops OSR EPA/Play
Jakobi Meyers 50 6 5 52 24 0 0 102.8 0 83.3% 0.72
Damiere Byrd 45 7 3 33 31 0 1 17.9 0 42.9% -0.59
N'Keal Harry 26 2 0 0 0 0 0 39.6 1 0.0% -2.25
James White 20 1 1 -1 4 0 0 79.2 0 0.0% -0.71

The Patriots’ receiving group had a quiet day against Arizona; only four players were targeted by Cam Newton all day.

The most productive names on that list, meanwhile, are no surprise: Jakobi Meyers once more led the team in receptions and yards, while also posting the best EPA (0.72) and OSR (83.3%) numbers and continuing to be New England’s most consistent wideout; Damiere Byrd’s statistics were hurt by the fourth quarter interception thrown his way as he generally was up and down throughout the contest.

One player who stood out for all the wrong reasons was N’Keal Harry. The second-year man was unable to reel in both passes thrown his way, with one of them a drop. He furthermore was flagged for a holding call to wipe out a 10-yard carry and finished the game with a grand total of -2 yards on his lone touch. The former first-round wideout showed some strides earlier during the season, but has been quite since returning from a concussion that forced him to miss some time.

Pass protection/run blocking

Pass protection/run blocking statistics

Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Stuffed runs
Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Stuffed runs
Michael Onwenu 53 0 0 1 0
Joe Thuney 53 0 0 0 1
David Andrews 53 0 0 0 0
Shaq Mason 53 0 0 0 0
Jermaine Eluemunor 39 0 1 0 2
Jakob Johnson 34 0 0 0 1
James White 20 2 1 0 0
Justin Herron 15 0 0 0 0

With Isaiah Wynn on injured reserve and Jermaine Eluemunor and Justin Herron filling in at left tackle, the Patriots had an up-and-down day both in pass protection and run blocking. All in all, New England surrendered six stuffed rushing attempts for no gain or a loss of yardage and allowed Cam Newton to be pressured on 30 percent of his drop-backs. Of the six disruptions given up, however, only two were courtesy of the O-line.

The rest came either due to coverage (one sack) or running back James White: the usually reliable back surrendered a pair of sacks and the aforementioned hit that led to Newton’s first interception.

Pass rush/run defense

Pass rush/run defense statistics

Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Stuffed runs
Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Stuffed runs
Stephon Gilmore 74 0 0 0 1
Ja'Whaun Bentley 71 0 0 0 0.5
Chase Winovich 60 1 0 2 0
Lawrence Guy 49 0 0 1 0
Adam Butler 47 1 2 0 0.5
Josh Uche 16 0 1 0 0
Anfernee Jennings 14 0 0 1 0
Akeem Spence 14 0 0 0 0.5
Myles Bryant 13 0 0 0 0.5

After being unable to disrupt Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson last week, the Patriots’ pass rush looked much improved versus the Cardinals and an equally elusive Kyler Murray. The return of Adam Butler certainly helped: the fourth-year man was disruptive throughout the day and finished with a sack, two hits and half a stuffed run. Butler led the charge against Arizona and could also play a big role for New England moving forward.

Pass coverage

Pass coverage statistics

Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Pass Breakups Rating OSR
Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Pass Breakups Rating OSR
Stephon Gilmore 74 3 2 17 0 0 0 81.3 66.7%
Devin McCourty 74 1 1 7 0 0 0 95.8 100.0%
J.C. Jackson 62 3 0 0 0 0 0 39.6 0.0%
Kyle Dugger 54 1 0 0 0 0 0 39.6 0.0%
Adrian Phillips 52 1 1 4 0 1 0 16.7 0.0%
Jonathan Jonens 41 2 1 8 0 0 0 60.4 50.0%
Jason McCourty 31 2 2 25 0 0 0 118.8 50.0%

The Patriots’ pass defense also looked good when it comes to the coverage part of stopping the opponent’s aerial game. While Kyler Murray completed 67.6 percent of his throws on the day, the most damage was done against zone. When New England was in man-to-man coverage, meanwhile, its defensive backs were very competitively: led by Stephon Gilmore, who followed All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins for most of the day, the Patriots never allowed Murray to establish a rhythm.

New England’s coverage unit has had its good and bad moments this season, but the game against Arizona certainly falls in the first category.