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Red zone play is silver lining for pass D

The Patriots have allowed 1,910 yards through four games. That's the most in NFL history through a team's first four games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, breaking a mark of 1,894 allowed by the 2005 San Francisco 49ers.

The good news? They've managed to minimize the damage on the scoreboard.

The Patriots 32nd-ranked defense is allowing 24.5 points per game, tied for 20th in the NFL. That puts them just ahead of the Dallas Cowboys, who are allowing 25.3 PPG. The Cowboys have the NFL's fourth-ranked defense, allowing 291.8 yards per game (or almost 200 fewer than New England).

So how have the Patriots succeeded despite all of the yards accumulated by opponents?

New England has forced three red zone turnovers, which leads the NFL. The Patriots could be in a far different place had those drives ended in touchdowns.

The much-maligned pass defense has excelled in the red zone. Total QBR provides a comprehensive measure of a quarterback's effectiveness on a scale of 0 to 100. Outside the red zone, quarterbacks have combined for an 82.8 QBR against the Patriots, highest in the NFL. But in the red zone, they've thrown three interceptions and been sacked twice against New England. That's led to a 3.0 QBR against the Patriots in the red zone, the lowest of any pass defense.

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