3rd Down Issues Continue For Patriots Defense

Ian Logue
October 2, 2012 at 7:43 am ET

For some reason the Patriots still continue to struggle getting off the field on 3rd down.

The Bills converted over 53-percent of their attempts on Sunday, converting 8-of-15 but one stat that is completely baffling is the one that tends to raise the most eyebrows.

Jerod Mayo had one of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s two 3rd down interceptions on Sunday. (FILE:USPresswire)

Once again, 3rd and long was a big problem and it’s frustrating because the defense did all they could up front to put the Bills in long yardage situations for most of the game. Buffalo found themselves in 3rd and 5 or more to go for a first down on 11 of their 15 3rd down situations, and converted 6 of them. They also gave up some big plays in those situations, with the Bills coming up with receptions of 16, 14, 16, 35 and 12 yards.

Overall on 3rd down Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was 7-of-12 for 133 yards, threw for 1 touchdown, but was picked off twice and sacked once. Jerod Mayo had one of those interceptions on a 3rd and 7 after Vince Wilfork tipped Fitzpatrick’s pass, while Devin McCourty added another on a 3rd and 15 in the fourth quarter. McCourty’s ended up being a big play because it lead to a touchdown run by Brandon Bolden and put the Patriots up 42-21 to more or less put the game away.

Fortunately for New England the fact they were able to create six turnovers obviously ended up being the difference the game and Bill Belichick talked about it on Monday, saying it’s something the coaches stress heading into each game.

“We emphasize it every week,” said Belichick during his press conference yesterday. “We’ve gotten our hands on some balls this year, some we’ve turned over, some we haven’t. We’ve forced a few fumbles. Sometimes we’ve recovered them, sometimes we haven’t. Those things kind of went right for us.

“We got two out of three fumbles. We had a strip-sack that we didn’t get. I think if you just keep pressuring the ball, hopefully, sooner or later you’ll get it out and hopefully sooner or later some of those will come to you. The players have worked hard on that, we’re always conscious of trying to put pressure on the ball. Yesterday was a good day for us.”

Hopefully it’s just the first step for this defense. They did a good job against the run Sunday afternoon, holding Buffalo to 15 carries of 3 yards or less, including six for no gain or a loss of yardage. Now if they can just get off the field when they put opposing teams in long yardage situations they’ll certainly be even better off.