Heading into Sunday’s game against the Jets, the New England Patriots are facing a talented defense that’s been widely considered among the best in the league. While the results on Sunday didn’t necessarily represent that after New York fell 30-10 in Dallas, there was one significant factor that provided some context to the loss.
The best way to beat a good defense is to wear it out, and that’s exactly what the Cowboys did.
They forced three interceptions by Zach Wilson and went on to hold the ball for a staggering 42:15 compared to the Jets’ 17:45.
As good as any defense is, no one can withstand being out on the field that long. And certainly not against players like Dak Prescott and Dallas’ offense.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh said that the fact the Cowboys kept moving the chains absolutely killed them. He called each conversion over the course of each of their long drives a “body blow,” which eventually ended up being the difference in the game.
“From an efficiency standpoint, on third down, we just couldn’t get off the field,” said Saleh on Wednesday after the Cowboys finished Sunday converting 9-of-18 on third down against them. “Just to give context to it all, when you can’t get off the field and you see almost 50 plays in a half, which is almost a game, you’re going to get tired. Your technique is going to lack. You’re fighting for your life at that point.”
“It’s like body blows. They sting, and the longer these drives go – I think we had over 5 drives that lasted 12 plays or more, and that’s a lot of credit to them, being able to stay ahead of the chains and being able to convert those third downs.”
“They kept body-blowing, and they did a really good job with it.”
That’s an area the Patriots will likely have to try and exploit this weekend.
In their second meeting last season, the Patriots did a good job of making the Jets defense work and wearing them down, running nearly 60 plays in that one. They held the football for nearly 36 minutes while Mac Jones completed 23-of-27 for 246 yards, but they just couldn’t convert in the red zone, going 0-for-2 in that area, while Nick Folk also missed two field goals that afternoon.
In the end, Marcus Jones ended up with his 84-yard touchdown return to seal the win, but keeping the ball out of their hands, along with holding Zach Wilson to just 9-of-22 throwing the football, was key in the victory.
They had similar success in the first meeting, keeping the football for nearly the same amount of time after running 75 plays, as Jones finished 24-of-35 and threw a touchdown pass, while Folk hit five field goals.
But sustaining drives and execution will likely be even more important this weekend. Saleh knows it, admitting Dallas’ efficiency as being the difference during Sunday’s loss.
“It’s one game guys, and I don’t think it really defines who we are as a defense or who we are as a team,” said Saleh. “But it definitely was a really good job from their standpoint. Give credit to Dallas. [They were] just so efficient in everything they did. They took advantage of … if we were off a step, they took advantage of it, and that’s a credit to them and their execution.”
While the Patriots have already had success in that area, it’s likely going to be a little harder to repeat this time around, especially since they’ve had their own problems putting points up on the board through two weeks.
Still sustaining drives and frustrating New York’s defense may be the best recipe for success in quieting what should be a hostile crowd at MetLife Stadium.
It’s certainly a big task and also one of the more pivotal matchups so far in 2023 as the Patriots try and get their first win of the season this Sunday.
(Portions of the above appeared in this morning’s news and notes column.)
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2023 Patriots Season New England Patriots New York Jets