FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots defense pitched a shutout of the NFL’s No. 1 rated offense, earning some well-deserved praise from their opponent.
The Patriots defense was stifling Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, making just about every play it needed to in order to keep the high-scoring Detroit Lions at bay. Whether it be a ridiculous 77.7% success rate on third and fourth down, two forced turnovers or a four-drive stretch where the Lions gained 90 total yards, New England was dominant, and Detroit quarterback Jared Goff knows it.
“I think it’s a really good defense. And they had a really good plan for us,” Goff said, per team-provided transcript. “I mean, we moved the ball. We weren’t just sputtering out of drives. We moved the ball, we just didn’t finish any drives. We didn’t convert on our fourth downs and that’s kind of the difference today. And if we convert on all the fourth downs, you know, maybe we’re able to score some points. I would think so.”
It’s certainly lofty of Goff to think converting six fourth-down attempts was possible. The Lions combined for minus-14 yards on those attempts, with New England coming away with a defensive touchdown on one particularly weird decision.
Perhaps the Patriots mixed things up for Goff and the Lions?
“No. Yeah, no. I don’t — no,” Goff said. “They played what they usually played. I don’t even have to watch it. But they played what they usually play. And I think what they do so well is they’re just so sound. They’re so sound and they have a really good idea of how you’re trying to attack them offensively. And their players are really smart. And they’re good players, too. In order to beat teams like that, defenses like that, you can’t make dumb mistakes like I did. We just got to do better.”
Heading into a stretch where they play the Cleveland Browns and backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, the low-scoring Chicago Bears and the New York Jets, the Patriots’ defensive numbers could continue to improve and impress.