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
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…