As the Pittsburgh Steelers rallied against the New England Patriots on Sunday, coming within one point of the AFC leaders early in the third quarter, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia’s defense notably allowed quarterback Landry Jones several seconds to go through his read progressions before dumping down to Le’Veon Bell on numerous occasions.
According to NESN’s Doug Kyed, the Patriots rushed three or fewer pass rushers on 25 of Jones’ 47 drop backs.
It appeared as the though New England consistently preferred to drop back into coverage rather than blitz Jones, perhaps out of fear of allowing big plays to either of Pittsburgh’s pro bowl standouts, Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown.
“Between him and Brown, we tried to do as much as we could on those two all day,” Belichick said postgame. “They still were productive, but we put as much coverage and as much defense on them as we could. They’re hard to stop.”
"It's team defense. Red area was a huge difference in the game. We're not trying to sacrifice anything." BB on pass rush and team D
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) October 24, 2016
The Patriots’ lowest AFC ranking on defense happens to be sacks per pass play. New England ranks 13th out of the conference’s 16 teams in that category. Obviously, the Patriots have done a tremendous job limiting opponents’ scoring, ranking 4th in the league allowing just 15.3 points per game.
Still, the Patriots pass rushers inability to get to the quarterback is something to monitor moving forward.