Patriots Defense Holds On For Win

Patriots blogger Shane Leketa is back with his take on the Patriots second game of the season. The defense rose to the challenge, Leketa writes.

Showdown at Gillette
Shane A. Leketa

After a week one win for the New England Patriots against the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins, it was time for the defensive unit to be tested against the vaunted offense of the San Diego Chargers.

New England's defensive gave up 488 yards of offense to Chad Henne and the Dolphins in the season opener. The group was on its heels, reeling from the Dolphins attack, allowing 416 yards in the air.

Now, let's flip the scene to Gillette stadium on Sunday afternoon for the opening home game for the Patriots.  Would the Patriots secondary be able to contain Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson?  Would they show the sings of holes in the defense like they did against an above average offense in Miami?

If you take a quick look at the box score from the game, you will see that the Patriots defense still gave up 470 total yards to this offense but they achieved the goal of winning the game in other ways.

The defense held the Chargers in front of them for most of the night and if it weren't for a pair of spectacular catches by Malcolm Floyd early in the game and Vincent Jackson with a one handed grab in the endzone, the game would not have been close.

The Patriots defensive unit did enough to give the team a chance to win. And that is all that can be expected from a group in a rebuilding year.  Their performance wasn't perfect, but it was effective in keeping the Chargers out of the end zone.

The game was really decided by turnovers and the points that they produced.  The Patriots intercepted Philip Rivers twice, including one by Vince Wilfork to tip the ball in the air and then come down with it to record the first interception of his career.

The Patriots also jumped on top of fumbles that the Chargers experienced. The biggest turnover came after the Patriots failed to deliver on 4th and 4. The Chargers had the ball and were driving into Patriots territory for another score. At the time it was only a 6-point lead. Jerod Mayo punched the ball out of Mike Tolbert's grasp and Rob Ninkovich recovered the fumble.

These takeaways accounted for a large portion of the overall scoring by the New England Patriots specifically three times within the Patriots' 35 yard line.  These three turnovers lead to 17 of the total 35 points for the Patriots.

One amazing piece of all of this offense and opportunistic defense is the performance of Tom Brady during the first two games of the year.  He has thrown for 940 yards with 7 TDs in these two games, completing 31 of 40 passes with no interceptions in Sunday's game.  In his past six regular season starts at home, Brady has thrown for 1,537 yards and has tallied 14 touchdowns with no interceptions.

Brady was the unanimous MVP last year and he has kick started his 2011-12 season in the same fashion.  He spread the ball around, hitting 7 different receivers with 5 of them finishing with over 60 yards.  

Patriots' fans have to take a moment to appreciate the quarterback under center in Foxboro.  In the middle of his prime, Brady is outperforming some the best quarterbacks in NFL history, and he's making it look easy.

Each week the Patriots' defense gains experience, learning how to play as a unit.  The opportunistic plays through the air and on the ground deflated the Chargers' offense at key points in the game. The turnovers were momentum changers.

Bill Belichick summed it up the performance – both good and bad – in his postgame press conference.  

"I'm really proud of our football team today. I'll tell you, we had a lot of guys battle through stuff - coming off a short week, getting ready for this football team," Belichick said. "The Chargers are a good football team, but ultimately the turnovers and getting the ball in the end zone was big for us. We had a lot of guys step up."

On a game where newly enshrined Patriots Hall of Famer, Drew Bledsoe, was honored at halftime at the stadium, the Patriots looked hungrier and more motivated than ever.  Now the test is to see if they can sustain that to next week.

The Buffalo Bills are next on the schedule for New England.  Buffalo has started the season at 2-0 being led by upstart quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and downhill runner, Fred Jackson.  The Patriots will need to find a way to win in Buffalo, if they want to keep pace with the New York Jets, who are also undefeated so far.

It will undoubtedly be a battle of offenses in Orchard Park. And regardless of the outcome, certainly the game has potential to be another Patriot thriller.

Talk About It In the Forums

For more Patriots news follow us via Twitter: @PatriotsInsider


Shane Leketa is a long time Patriots fan who bleeds red, white and blue. Leketa runs the site MyPatsSpace on MySpace. Follow him on Twitter: @MyPatsSpace


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Shane Leketa is a long time Patriots fan who bleeds red, white and blue. Leketa runs the site MyPatsSpace on MySpace. Follow him on Twitter: @MyPatsSpace\r\n

\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" Shane A. Leketa After a week one win for the New England Patriots against the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins, it was time for the defensive unit to be tested against the vaunted offense of the San Diego Chargers. New England's defensive gave up 488 yards of offense to Chad Henne and the Dolphins in the season opener. The group was on its heels, reeling from the Dolphins attack, allowing 416 yards in the air. Now, let's flip the scene to Gillette stadium on Sunday afternoon for the opening home game for the Patriots.  Would the Patriots secondary be able to contain Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson?  Would they show the sings of holes in the defense like they did against an above average offense in Miami? If you take a quick look at the box score from the game, you will see that the Patriots defense still gave up 470 total yards to this offense but they achieved the goal of winning the game in other ways. The defense held the Chargers in front of them for most of the night and if it weren't for a pair of spectacular catches by Malcolm Floyd early in the game and Vincent Jackson with a one handed grab in the endzone, the game would not have been close. The Patriots defensive unit did enough to give the team a chance to win. And that is all that can be expected from a group in a rebuilding year.  Their performance wasn't perfect, but it was effective in keeping the Chargers out of the end zone. The game was really decided by turnovers and the points that they produced.  The Patriots intercepted Philip Rivers twice, including one by Vince Wilfork to tip the ball in the air and then come down with it to record the first interception of his career. The Patriots also jumped on top of fumbles that the Chargers experienced. The biggest turnover came after the Patriots failed to deliver on 4th and 4. The Chargers had the ball and were driving into Patriots territory for another score. At the time it was only a 6-point lead. Jerod Mayo punched the ball out of Mike Tolbert's grasp and Rob Ninkovich recovered the fumble. These takeaways accounted for a large portion of the overall scoring by the New England Patriots specifically three times within the Patriots' 35 yard line.  These three turnovers lead to 17 of the total 35 points for the Patriots. One amazing piece of all of this offense and opportunistic defense is the performance of Tom Brady during the first two games of the year.  He has thrown for 940 yards with 7 TDs in these two games, completing 31 of 40 passes with no interceptions in Sunday's game.  In his past six regular season starts at home, Brady has thrown for 1,537 yards and has tallied 14 touchdowns with no interceptions. Brady was the unanimous MVP last year and he has kick started his 2011-12 season in the same fashion.  He spread the ball around, hitting 7 different receivers with 5 of them finishing with over 60 yards.   Patriots' fans have to take a moment to appreciate the quarterback under center in Foxboro.  In the middle of his prime, Brady is outperforming some the best quarterbacks in NFL history, and he's making it look easy. Each week the Patriots' defense gains experience, learning how to play as a unit.  The opportunistic plays through the air and on the ground deflated the Chargers' offense at key points in the game. The turnovers were momentum changers. Bill Belichick summed it up the performance – both good and bad – in his postgame press conference.   \"I'm really proud of our football team today. I'll tell you, we had a lot of guys battle through stuff - coming off a short week, getting ready for this football team,\" Belichick said. \"The Chargers are a good football team, but ultimately the turnovers and getting the ball in the end zone was big for us. We had a lot of guys step up.\" On a game where newly enshrined Patriots Hall of Famer, Drew Bledsoe, was honored at halftime at the stadium, the Patriots looked hungrier and more motivated than ever.  Now the test is to see if they can sustain that to next week. The Buffalo Bills are next on the schedule for New England.  Buffalo has started the season at 2-0 being led by upstart quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and downhill runner, Fred Jackson.  The Patriots will need to find a way to win in Buffalo, if they want to keep pace with the New York Jets, who are also undefeated so far. It will undoubtedly be a battle of offenses in Orchard Park. And regardless of the outcome, certainly the game has potential to be another Patriot thriller. Talk About It In the Forums For more Patriots news follow us via Twitter: @PatriotsInsider

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