Defensive statistics in football should always be taken with a grain of salt.
For instance, the current leader in solo tackles in the NFL is Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David with 51. Cleveland’s Tashaun Gipson and Buffalo’s Leodis McKelvin are the current leaders in interceptions with four apiece. That’s not to say those players aren’t good, but your casual football fan wouldn’t recognize all three of those names and none are exactly locks for Defensive Player of the Year.
Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis, he with the meager 19 tackles on the year and just one interception, has not yet done enough to garner many votes for 2014 DPOY either.
The individual numbers for Revis in 2014 are certainly not there, and there have been several plays this season that have left more than a few Patriots fans scratching their heads and wondering, “Did we get damaged goods with this guy?”
In this past Thursday’s “too-close-for-comfort” win over the Jets, Revis was pedestrian against his old team. New York quarterback Geno Smith threw a perfect ball over the outstretched arms of Revis and into the hands of Eric Decker for a 24-yard gain that eventually led to a Jets field goal and Jets weren’t exactly frightened to throw to Revis’ side of the field.
“Great throw by Geno Smith,” Revis said. “I undercut it and if he had thrown it any other way it was going to be going the other way, because I was on it like a hawk. Great throw. I’ve got to give credit to them executing that play. Great throw. Great catch by Decker … I was there. Sometimes, it’s a game of inches. [Smith] threw it right at the out of bounds line, It was that close.”
With Revis as the Pats’ proverbial “shutdown corner,” however, the Patriots’ team pass defense numbers are there. The Pats rank No. 1 in the league in fewest passing yards allowed per game (208.0), a season after finishing 18th in the league (239.0) in that category.
And when the Patriots have faced teams with perceived “elite” receivers, Revis has earned the “shutdown” label. According to the Sporting News, the Bengals looked in the direction of A.J. Green six times in the first half of the Patriots 43-17 win over Cincy in Week 5, and it resulted in an interception (though offsetting penalties nullified the play), an incompletion, an incompletion, an incompletion and an incompletion. When Green finally did make a grab, Revis wrestled him to the ground and stripped the ball in the process, giving the Pats possession.
Bills receiver Sammy Watkins, who had 122 yards of receiving and two touchdowns against the Vikings this past Sunday, was similarly held in check by Revis and the Pats defense in Week 6. Watkins was targeted just three times by Kyle Orton and caught just two balls for 27 yards.
Revis vs. Talib
Revis is being compared to Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib on a game-by-game basis this season as Revis signed with the Patriots just three days after Talib bolted Foxboro for Denver. Talib’s individual numbers are slightly better than Revis’ this season as he has 20 tackles and two interceptions – one of which was returned 22 yards for a touchdown against the Jets. Denver has the best record in the AFC at 5-1, though the Patriots pass defense numbers are better as the Broncos rank 18th in yards allowed per game (242.5).
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS