NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas
Rush yards were at a surplus when the New England Patriots defense faced the Denver Broncos ground game in Week 12.
Quarterback Peyton Manning handed the football off to his running backs 47 times, and 280 yards were the byproduct. Fifth-year back Knowshon Moreno had a career day, compiling 224 rushing yards and a touchdown on 37 attempts, while rookies Montee Ball and C.J. Anderson combined for 56 yards on 10 attempts.
Whether it was by design or by accident, the Patriots front didn’t give the record-breaking Manning much of a reason to pass to his assortment of receivers – he totaled 150 pass yards. And while the absence of defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly certainly played a part in the Patriots’ failures there, the woes delved deeper than attrition for the then-31st run D.
Much of it came down to how the scheme approached the inside zone.
That approach has since been altered. It may, however, be fine-tuned once again for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at Mile High.