Against the Run: Solid Performance By the Patriots Defense

Ian Logue
September 30, 2012 at 10:50pm ET

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Despite giving up over 400 yards of total offense to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, there was a clear highlight that should certainly be mentioned when it comes to the Patriots defense.

They were absolutely fantastic against the run.

They held C.J. Spiller to just 33 yards rushing on 8 attempts during New England's 52-28 come from behind win, and also held Fred Jackson to 29 yards.

Brandon Spikes was a force for the Patriots defense on Sunday. (FILE:USPresswire)

More importantly, they never let up their intensity up front, with Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower and Brandon Spikes turning up the heat against a Bills offense that had every opportunity to put this game out of reach and prevent the Patriots from staging a comeback.

They held the Bills to 15 carries of 3 yards or less, including six of no gain or a loss of yardage and also forced three fumbles - one of which proved to be the biggest play of the game and came right before the end of the first half half. It happened shortly after wide receiver Wes Welker had coughed up the football following a 14 yard reception with just over 2-minutes to go and gave Buffalo the football down at their own 21.

From there Buffalo took it down to the Patriots 4, but Spikes came in and absolutely leveled Spiller on a 2nd down carry, knocking out the ball and Wilfork alertly recovered the football.

At that point the Bills lead 14-7 and could have easily gone up 21-7 at the half, but it ended up being a key moment in the game that turned things around.

“That was a huge play," said Belichick after the game.  "That was a big momentum play because we were getting the ball to start the third quarter so we felt like we would have a chance to cut into it a little bit if we could just get out of there with a field goal, I mean as it was that turnover was huge."

Welker agreed, especially since he was the one who turned it over.

“I mean, that was huge, especially since I’m the one that fumbled for them to go in there," Welker told reporters after the win.  "So hats off to the defense for making that big play.  It really put us in a good position going into half time and being able to fight there in the second half.”

Another big turnover came in the fourth quarter that ultimately sealed the game for the Patriots.  With Buffalo down by just 7 at 28-21 following Rob Gronkowski's touchdown to start the fourth quarter, the Bills had a chance to answer.  But on their 3rd play from scrimmage on their ensuing drive, Spikes once again put a vicious hit on Fred Jackson who lost the ball and Tavon Wilson recovered at Buffalo's 42.

Six plays later Stevan Ridley ran it in from 2 yards out and it just got worse from there.

New England's secondary made the next play after Devin McCourty intercepted a 3rd down pass on the Bills' fourth play on their next drive, giving the Patriots the ball at the Bills 12.

This time Brandon Bolden took it in to put New England up 42-21, and despite the fact there was 10:34 still left in the game Bills fans knew it was the Patriots - and not their team - who had the momentum at that point and they started heading for the exits.

In the end Belichick credited the fact his team simply hung in there for the reason they were able to come back from being down two touchdowns and come away with the win.

"I just think our execution…we just kept battling in there and made enough plays at the right time I guess," said Belichick.  "It wasn’t perfect, but we did enough good things.”

That they did, and if they can get the guys in the defensive backfield to play as well as the guys up front, it's starting to look like they good have something special going on in the weeks to come.