Patriots defense has shut down top receivers this season

T.Y. HIlton Patriots Colts
The Colts were blasted in Foxboro last season, 59-24, but T.Y. Hilton impressed with a couple of touchdown grabs. Credit: Getty Images

It’s long been said about Bill Belichick and the Patriots that they like to take away what other teams do best.

In the pass-happy NFL, what most offenses do best these days involves getting the ball to big-time receivers. Not so surprisingly, the Patriots have done a tremendous job at shutting down opposing team’s “No. 1” wide outs this season.

The most notable example came in Week 5 against Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, as they held the three-time Pro Bowler to just five catches for 61 yards, without a touchdown. The most notable stumble came in Week 14 against the Browns when Josh Gordon ran roughshod over the New England defense to the tune of 151 yards on seven catches.

It’s obviously a lot easier to negate a team’s strength when you are something close to full-strength health-wise, which is why the statistics involving the Pats shutting down opposing No. 1s look much better earlier in the season than later. Through the first 11 games of the year, the Pats defense allowed just one 100-plus yard game to another team’s No. 1 wide out as Julio Jones caught six balls for 108 yards in Week 4.

Unquestionably, the health of Aqib Talib has factored into the Pats’ second slacking as the season has wore on. Talib was playing at an All-Pro level before tweaking his hip in the win over the Saints in mid-October. He has looked a step slow, at times, since.


Starting with Houston’s Andre Johnson in Week 13, the Pats let three No. 1 receivers burn them for 100-plus yards consecutively. Gordon, in Week 14, and Mike Wallace, in Week 15, also had touchdowns against New England. In the final two weeks of the regular season, they held Baltimore’s Torrey Smith to three catches for 69 yards and Buffalo’s Robert Woods (the Bills were without Stevie Johnson) to one catch for 27 yards.

Much has been made about Colts quarterback Andrew Luck not having many weapons on offense. But receiver T.Y. Hilton is coming off a career game in which he torched the Chiefs for 224 yards on 13 catches with a pair of touchdowns. Hilton had five 100-plus yard receiving days during the 2013 regular season.

“He’s pretty dangerous on everything,” Belichick said of Hilton. “He’s caught long passes, intermediate passes, short catch-and-run plays. He’s very quick, fast explosive, good with the ball in his hands. He runs good routes, he’s a hard guy to tackle, so he can beat you in a lot of different ways.”

Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.