BY THE NUMBERS: Patriots Pass Defense Has Improved

Ian Logue
December 04, 2012 at 06:00am ET

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During the early part of the season, watching opponents throw the deep ball against the Patriots became a pretty frequent occurrence.

Aqib Talib and the rest of the Patriots secondary has been fantastic in recent weeks. (FILE:USPresswire)

Their pass defense was definitely considered their weak link and it was certainly part of the reason for the three losses they've suffered.  Teams had no fear of taking shots down the field and for the most part they had a fair amount of success. It got to the point where most fans wondered if it was an issue that once again wouldn't show any signs of being solved.

Through the first seven games of the season the Patriots allowed 36 plays of over 20 yards, including 5 of over 40 yards and two that went for over 50, an average of about 5.14 plays per game of that distance allowed.

However, things started to turn around in the London game against St. Louis.  Coming off of the Jets overtime win a week earlier where they allowed 6 plays for over 20 yards, against the Rams they yielded just 3.  They were much more physical and really seemed like they were on to something.

Since then, they've been even better.  They've allowed just 11 plays of over 20 yards in four games, about 2.75 plays per game - far better than how the beginning the year started.  Heading into the final stretch of the season, obviously defensively that's going to be a big key as they head into the postseason.

Head coach Bill Belichick was asked about the fact they've been better in recent weeks during his conference call on Monday, and attributed to the fact they've simply continued trying to get better over the course of the season.

"Again, I think you just keep preparing and working every week," said Belichick. "You try to get better every single week. It doesn’t make any difference how well or not well you’re doing. Each week you have new opportunities to improve and to start all over again on a new opponent and make the outcome what you want it to be that week."

"I think the defense has done that. We’ve had some better results recently statistically. We’ve continued to win. So, I think if we continue to work hard and prepare hard and everybody tries to do a little bit better job at their job and with their unit within the defense and defensively as a total group, we improve our communication and execution and all those things that we have to do then we’ll play better next week than we played this week."

So far they've definitely continued to improve.  Hopefully it's a sign of things to come and they continue to play well.