FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots' defense deserves all of the credit it's gotten for forcing 27 turnovers this season, but don't forget about how impressive New England's offense has been after the fact.
It's actually pretty amazing. The Patriots have scored 18 times after their 27 turnovers (66.7 percent), including four defensive touchdowns (three interception returns, one fumble return), and they've amassed 106 points directly from turnovers. That’s an average of 3.9 points per turnover and 8.2 points per game from turnovers.
"I love giving Tom Brady a short field," Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said. "Best quarterback in the game."
The Patriots are tied for fourth in the NFL in forced turnovers, so the defense has given the offense plenty of opportunities. The offense, in turn, has given them a giant thank-you card by continually punching the ball into the end zone.
Remove the four defensive touchdowns from that count, and the offense has gone on to score 14 times in 23 opportunities (60.9 percent), and they've put up 78 points on those possessions, which accounts for 3.4 points per turnover. More specifically, the offense has scored nine touchdowns and five field goals following a turnover.
What's more, of the nine possessions in which the Patriots didn’t score off a turnover, they've run out the game clock four times, and they also ate up 6:04 on the clock in the fourth quarter Sunday in Chicago. So, basically, the New England offense has only had four possessions all season in which it's done nothing productive after a turnover.
The offense has been on an extremely hot streak during the Patriots' five-game winning streak. The defense has forced 13 turnovers in the last five games, and the Patriots have scored points after 10 of those turnovers, including two defensive touchdowns (one interception, one fumble). They've amassed 62 points in that span, which is an average of 4.8 points per turnover and 12.4 points per game.
After removing those two defensive scores, the offense has turned eight of the 11 turnovers into 48 points. Of the three scoreless possessions, the Patriots have ended the game twice and turned in the aforementioned clock-killing drive against the Bears. Basically, the offense hasn’t wasted a single turnover during the winning streak.
So, keep crediting the Patriots' turnover-happy defense, but the offense has made sure to finish the job, and that's the type of complementary football that head coach Bill Belichick likes to see.