After Mike Reiss detailed the troubling trend of the Patriots defense breaking down in the fourth quarter of recent games, we asked ESPN Stats and Information to break down why it was happening. Here’s what they dug up:
The Patriots have entered the fourth quarter of the last two games with a plus-34 point differential, and as a result have used extra defensive backs on 39 of the 42 dropbacks against them in the last two fourth quarters. However, the extra secondary help didn’t slow Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning, who combined for 21 passing first downs in the last two fourth quarters.
The Patriots have actually been worse in sub small packages (at least 5 defensive backs) in non-4th quarter situations then they have in the 4th quarter this season.
Numbers compiled by John Parolin.