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
News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

News

Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

NHL

Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.