The 2020 edition of the New England Patriots have a number of faults.
Many will point to the fact the Patriots’ offense did not have much production at pass-catching positions like tight end and receiver. That’s fair. Others will say it was a direct correlation to inconsistent quarterback play, specially of Cam Newton. That’s fair too.
But the Patriots inability to stop the run game — displayed during New England’s playoff-eliminating loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday — was a glaring issue all season.
The Patriots’ five worst run defensive performances — 250 yards to Miami Week 15, 197 yards against the 49ers Week 7, 190 yards vs. Bills Week 8, 186 yards against the Los Angeles Rams Week 14 and 154 yards in Seattle Week 2 — led to five losses.
And in doing so, they allowed opponents to do to them what said opponents hadn’t been able to do all season.
Miami’s 250 yards on Sunday was its most since 2016. Both outputs by the 49ers and Bills were the most they have recorded all year too. And against the Rams, well LA only has one game of more than the 186 rushing yards they put up against New England. It led to the Patriots entering Week 15 as the 23rd ranked group in the league.
There was a pretty simple recipe to beat the Patriots all year. First, make them pass on offense. Second, make them stop the run on defense.
That recipe has now eliminated the Patriots from the playoffs for the first time since 2008.