Patriots Takeaways: Pass Defense Excels Vs. Lowly Competition In Texans

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The Patriots’ defense won’t want to hear this after New England won its eighth consecutive game, but it’s still unclear just how good the unit is, despite letting up just 16 points in a playoff game.

The Patriots’ defense was impressive in the matchup, that’s certain. But the dominant performance, in which New England allowed just 285 yards, 4.3 yards per play, a 47.7 passer rating and forced three turnovers, came against lowly Houston. The Texans’ defense was playoff worthy, but quarterback Brock Osweiler and the offense were not.

So the Patriots’ defense played as it should have. And the forecast is cloudy on whether it can replicate this kind of success against offenses like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ or Kansas City Chiefs’. We’ll find out next week in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Until then, here are this week’s pass coverage, pass rush, pass protection and accuracy stats.

PASS COVERAGE
Patrick Chung: 4-6, 55 yards
Eric Rowe: 3-3, 40 yards
Dont’a Hightower: 5-5, 38 yards
Malcolm Butler: 3-6, 18 yards
Duron Harmon: 1-2, 10 yards, TD, INT
Logan Ryan: 3-7, 9 yards, two PBUs, INT
Jabaal Sheard: 1-1, 6 yards
Devin McCourty: 1-5, 2 yards, INT
Kyle Van Noy: 0-1
Shea McClellin: 0-1
Elandon Roberts: 0-1
Rob Ninkovich: PBU

— Ryan didn’t allow a first down all game. He allowed his three receptions at the end of the first quarter and into the second quarter on consecutive plays. It was his best game of the season with an interception, a sack and two third-down pass breakups.

— McCourty was targeted on Ryan’s interception, and Chung was targeted on Harmon’s pick. McCourty showed why he was a Pro Bowl selection with an interception and the target that resulted in another pick. He allowed a passer rating of 0 when targeted.

— There was confusion on the touchdown Harmon allowed. The entire Patriots defense also bit on play action.

— Osweiler had a passer rating of just 48.1 while targeting DeAndre Hopkins. Ryan and McCourty’s interceptions came on Hopkins targets.

PASS RUSH
Trey Flowers: two QB hits, two hurries (four pressures)
Kyle Van Noy: two QB hits, hurry (three pressures)
Rob Ninkovich: sack, hurry (two pressures)
Dont’a Hightower: two QB hits (two pressures)
Alan Branch: two hurries (two pressures)
Logan Ryan: sack
Malcom Brown: sack
Shea McClellin: QB hit
Chris Long: hurry

— Van Noy and Hightower brought consistent heat on limited pass-rushing opportunities. They should see their pass-rush snaps increase as the playoffs progress.

— Flowers also was solid as a pass rusher with two quarterback hits.

— The Patriots weren’t exactly tormenting Osweiler, but they provided consistent enough pressure all game to disrupt the Texans’ quarterback.

PASS PROTECTION
David Andrews: two sacks, hurry
Nate Solder: QB hit, two hurries
Shaq Mason: QB hit, hurry
Joe Thuney: QB hit, hurry
James White: hurry

— Tom Brady took some hard hits, but he was sacked just twice by a dangerous Texans defensive line. The Texans did a nice job of mixing pressures to force Brady out of the pocket.

— Thuney was charged with a QB hit for this hit from Jadeveon Clowney, but it appeared he was just trying to chip him and get to the second level on the screen pass.

PASS ACCURACY
Tom Brady: 
1. Thrown out in front of Michael Floyd; picked off
2. Thrown low to Dion Lewis
3. Underthrown to Lewis; broken up by Whitney Mercilus
4. Thrown out of bounds to Martellus Bennett
5. Thrown low to Lewis under pressure
6. Floyd’s route undercut by A.J. Bouye
7. Thrown out in front of Lewis
8. Throw to Chris Hogan; tipped by James Develin
9. Thrown high; dropped by Martellus Bennett
10. Thrown away
11. Thrown wide to Danny Amendola
12. Thrown wide to Julian Edelman
13. Thrown low and dropped by Amendola
14. Broken up to Benardrick McKinney on throw to Bennett
15. Pass deflected by McKinney; intercepted by Andre Hal
16. Overthrown to Edelman
17. Thrown behind Edelman
18. Ball ripped out by Corey Moore on throw to Edelman
19. Overthrown to Lewis
20. Thrown away

— Brady certainly didn’t have his best game. He was inaccurate on 13 passes, two incompletions were thrown away, two were impressive defensive plays, one was a miscommunication, one was because Brady was under pressure and one was dropped.

Thumbnail photo via James Lang/USA TODAY Sports Images

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