During the offseason, the Patriots’ offensive and defensive units will be able to get together and reminisce about their joint effort in wasting a 14-2 overall record, an 8-0 home record, an AFC East divsion title, a first-round playoff bye, and home field advantage by losing to the New York Jets in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Patriots may have lost, but at least they lost as a team, with each unit contributing its fair share to the defeat.
Compared to how the team performed in the 16 games previous, in the playoffs, each unit turned in an extremely disappointing effort.
Offensively, the Patriots experienced a 1.4% decline in completion percentage (from 65.3% to 64.4%), a 16.5% decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 7.9 to 6.6), a 26.9% decrease in adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 8.9 to 6.5), a 27.8% decrease in net yards per pass attempt (from 7.2 to 5.2), a 37.8% decrease in adjusted net yards per pass attempt (from 8.2 to 5.1), a 15.6% decrease in yards per completion (from 12.2 to 10.3), a 7.0% decrease in yards per rush (from 4.3 to 4.0), a 39.7% decrease in touchdown percentage (from 7.3% to 4.4%), a 120.0% increase in interception percentage (from 1.0% to 2.2%), a 112.8% increase in sack percentage (from 4.7% to 10.0%), and a 35.2% decrease in points per game (from 32.4 to 21.0).
As one can see, it was the Patriots’ passing offense that most let down the franchise and its fans. The decrease in yards per rush was minor compared to just how impotent the Jets made Tom Brady and his wide receivers look. The completion percentage was fine for Brady, but when compared to how the Patriots’ quarterbacks had performed during the regular season, the value per pass was simply not up to snuff, which kept the offense from moving the ball as well as they were used to.
Most damaging to the Patriots’ offense, in addition to the decrease in yards per pass attempt, were the decrease in touchdown percentage, increase in interception percentage, and increase in sack percentage.
During the regular season, Patriots’ quarterbacks, mostly Tom Brady, had done a wonderful job of throwing touchdown passes at a high rate while limiting interceptions and avoiding sacks. Against the Jets, they were unable to do any of those things and paid for it on the scoreboard.
The Patriots’ offense was robbed on every front of its efficiency by the Jets’ defense.
Defensively, the Patriots also were unable to live up to the standards they had set in the first 16 games, but came closer in more categories than did the offense. Compared to their defensive statistics in the regular season, the Patriots’ defense allowed a .8% increase in completion percentage (from 63.5% to 64.0%), a 9.9% increase in yards per pass attempt (from 7.1 to 7.8), a 67.2% increase in adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 6.1 to 10.2), a 21.9% increase in net yards per pass attempt (from 6.4 to 7.8), an 88.9% increase in adjusted net yards per pass attempt (from 5.4 to 10.2), an 8.0% increase in yards per completion (from 11.2 to 12.1), a 2.4% decrease in yards per rush (from 4.2 to 4.1), a 192.7% increase in touchdown percentage (from 4.1% to 12.0%), a 100.0% decrease in interception percentage (from 4.1% to 0.0%), a 100.0% decrease in sack percentage (from 5.7% to 0.0%), and a 42.9% increase in points per game (from 19.6 to 28.0).
It was not necessarily the yardage, by itself, that the defense gave up that hurt the Patriots the most. It was the fact that the Patriots’ defense was unable to offset the Jets’ yardage gains by sacking Mark Sanchez or intercepting any of his passes as they had done all season long. For only the third time in 17 games, the Patriots’ defense failed to intercept a pass; the defense also failed for only the third time in 17 games to sack the opposing quarterback.
The Patriots also allowed Mark Sanchez to throw an inordinate number of touchdown passes, both for him and for what the defense had allowed up until that point. The lack of big plays from the defense led directly to each of the Jets’ 28 points.
The offense should shoulder most of the blame for the playoff loss, but the defense certainly played an integral part in the team losing to the Jets.