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Patriots' struggles on third down lead to season-low total of offensive plays

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In the New England Patriots' first 14 games of the season, they averaged 71.6 offensive snaps per contest.

In Sunday’s 26-20 overtime loss to the Jets, they totaled just 56.

The offensive struggles contributed to coach Bill Belichick’s decision to kick off at the start of overtime.

“When Coach makes decisions like that, he takes everything into consideration, and everything that’s happened over the course of the afternoon,” quarterback Tom Brady said on WEEI on Monday morning. “As far as an offense goes, I said after the game that it wasn’t like we were tracking the ball up and down the field. It’s hard to inspire your coach when you don’t do much offensively all day.”

The 56 offensive snaps were a season low, as the previous low mark was 59 against the Cowboys, and then 61 in the season opener against the Steelers.

The low snap total is reflected in the team’s struggles on third down, as the Patriots were 1-for-10 in the game, which provides a springboard for this week's snap-count analysis:

Total offensive snaps: 56

Total defensive snaps: 71

OFFENSIVE LINE

RT Marcus Cannon -- 56

C Bryan Stork -- 56

RG Tre' Jackson -- 56

LG Shaq Mason -- 44

LT LaAdrian Waddle -- 37

LT/TE Cameron Fleming -- 15

C David Andrews -- 12

LT Sebastian Vollmer -- 5

NOTES: On the Patriots’ game-tying touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter, Stork switched to left guard in place of Mason and then Andrews was inserted at center. It was unclear if that was a result of an injury to Mason or a coaching decision. ... Vollmer was carted off after remaining down on his fifth play, with the Boston Herald and Pro Football Talk noting that the initial diagnosis is believed to be a sprain. ... Waddle, who replaced Vollmer, also left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.

TIGHT END

Rob Gronkowski -- -55

Michael Williams -- 37

Scott Chandler -- 4

NOTES: The one snap that Gronklowski didn’t play was the kneel-down at the end of the fourth quarter. ... Chandler’s role continues to diminish, as he didn’t play until the second half. He is also managing a knee injury.

WIDE RECEIVER

Brandon LaFell -- 54

Keshawn Martin -- 50

Chris Harper -- 17

Matthew Slater -- 1

NOTES: Harper was the third receiver and this was a game where the Patriots favored their two-TE package a bit more. ... Slater’s lone snap came on the kneel-down at the end of the fourth quarter. ... Martin was one of the team's most consistent performers.

RUNNING BACK

Brandon Bolden -- 27

James White -- 22

Steven Jackson -- 9

Joey Iosefa -- 3

NOTES: For the second straight week, Bolden didn’t play on any special teams units because of his expanded role at running back. As Jackson gets more into the mix, that could change. ... All three of Iosefa’s snaps were as a fullback.

QUARTERBACK

Tom Brady -- 56

NOTES: His preference is to be in the 70-80 snap range, which reflects the overall struggles of the offense.

CORNERBACK

Malcolm Butler -- 71

Logan Ryan -- 71

Leonard Johnson -- 51

Justin Coleman -- 25

NOTES: The Patriots spent most of the game in their nickel package, with the fifth defensive back either Johnson or Coleman. Before leaving in the fourth quarter with a head injury, Coleman had made a few plays of note as he works to build momentum that was stunted by his previously injured right hand.

SAFETY

Duron Harmon -- 71

Jordan Richards -- 64

Tavon Wilson -- 4

NOTES: Without starters Devin McCourty (ankle) and Patrick Chung (foot/hip), this group had some struggles. ... Wilson came on for overtime after Richards was injured, and was involved in the coverage struggles on Quincy Enunwa’s 48-yard catch-and-run that set up the winning score.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Malcom Brown -- 43

Alan Branch -- 34

Akiem Hicks -- 26

Sealver Siliga -- 20

NOTES: This group has been an area of strength for most of the season, but struggled in this game, as evidenced by the Jets’ strong rushing day (143 yards, 27 carries, 5.3 yards per carry).

DEFENSIVE END

Chandler Jones -- 62

Rob Ninkovich -- 46

Jabaal Sheard -- 46

NOTES: Ninkovich was hobbling in the locker room after the game, as he appeared to have a lower leg injury of some sort. ... Sheard’s strip-sack in the third quarter was one of the best plays of the game.

LINEBACKER

Jamie Collins -- 71

Dont’a Hightower -- 48

Jerod Mayo -- 28

NOTES: Playing through a left knee injury, Hightower was managed at times in the game, as he is usually closer to an every-down player.