Since the bye week, the Pats have faced 4 top teams with offenses at or near top 10 quality...BAL, SD, PIT and IND. For those games, if you look at the opposing drives in the context of the game score: Pats up by 1 score 12 drives: 1 TD, 4 turnovers, 5 punts Average drive: 6 plays, 27 yards, 2 first downs Pats tied 9 drives: 2 FGs, 1 turnover, 6 punts Average drive: 6 plays, 24 yards, 1 first down Pats down by 1 score 8 drives: 1 TD, 1 FG, 1 turnover, 5 punts Average drive: 5 plays, 25 yards, 1 first down Or to aggregate all the drives except those with a 2-score lead for the Pats: 29 drives: 2 TDs, 3 FGs, 6 turnovers, 16 punts Average drive: 6 plays, 26 yards, 1 first down Now the drives where the Pats have more than an 8 point lead: 17 drives: 9 TDs, 2 FGs, 2 turnovers, 2 punts Average drive: 7 plays, 54 yards, 3 first downs Now there are 2 observations you can make here: 1) Wow, the Pats have been protecting a nice lead a lot. To give some context, over the same time period (6 games with only GB being a playoff team) the Jets had a 2-score lead for only 4 drives in the Texans game and 6 drives in the Bengals game. 2) Wow, the results are pretty different between defending a 2-score lead and any other situation. Even though the average drive is only 1 more play, the results are double the yards with over a 50% chance of getting into the end zone. I have no intention of resurrecting the "Prevent Defense" thread, so please refrain. My point is that against top teams, at home and on the road, the Pats defense has done remarkably well when the score is close. When the Pats start to pull away and the opposing offense has a sense of urgency and no desire to punt, the defense has had problems. By lumping these two situations together, especially considering how often the Pats defense has been defending a solid lead, it kind of muddies the picture. The Pats absolutely have to do better when protecting a lead. But if they can build on the success they have had in other game situations, I'm thinking they have a reasonable chance for success looking forward.