Brady, backs helping Patriots to turnover record

Posted Dec. 27, 2010 @ 3:29 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Missing four starters against a Bills team that scored 30 points against them in Week Three, most people expected a close game in Buffalo. When you consider that the Bills had won four of their last six games and that the Patriots almost lost to a Matt Flynn-led Packers team the previous week, there was more reason to expect a New England letdown.

When Buffalo's first six plays, all runs, got them 59 yards, setting up a first down at the New England 13-yard line, you had to believe the Patriots were going to have a game on their hands.

By halftime, the Patriots led 24-3.

As we have seen so often this season, the Patriots took advantage of another team's mistakes and attacked an opponent's weakness. In this instance, they ran the ball down the throat of the league's worst run defense in a 34-3 win. New England dominated without starters ORG Dan Connolly, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, DE Brandon Deaderick and TE Aaron Hernandez and they now have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

QB Tom Brady stole the headlines by breaking Bernie Kosar's NFL record for most consecutive pass attempts without an interception. He sits at 318 and has not thrown a pick since Week Six. In fact, he has thrown interceptions in only two of 15 games this season — two apiece in Week Two and Week Six.

Brady is not the only reason the Patriots are on record-setting pace when it comes to taking the ball away. Their ball-hawking on defense continued Sunday and they also showed they could get the offense rolling with the ground game.

The PFW Spin

Turnovers have been the story on Monday morning. For the Patriots, it's the lack of turnovers they have made on offense and the takeaways on defense. They have a whopping plus-27 turnover margin, 13 more than the next-best team. The Patriots have turned the ball over just nine times and made 36 takeaways, leading the NFL with 24 interceptions.

They already set an NFL record for going seven consecutive games without turning the ball over and will likely set the record for fewest turnovers in a season.

So when you ask how the team with the league's 27th ranked defense and a host of rookies and undrafted players ends up with the best record in the league, turnovers is one place you can examine, and the Bills padded those stats on Sunday. Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed three interceptions while the Patriots forced four fumbles. The front seven was depleted by injury, and it showed on the first drive, but they made big plays to create turnovers and give the offense a short field.

Lost in the shuffle of the Patriots' excellence has been the running backs, who also deserve credit for their turnover records.

Undrafted RBs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead have combined for 1,456 rushing yards and 17 rushing scores on 304 carries. After rushing the ball a season-low 16 times against a weak Packers run defense, the Pats ran it a season-high 41 times for 217 yards, setting up easy red-zone touchdown throws for Brady. Behind a veteran offensive line, Green-Ellis and Woodhead are thriving with the Pats, and giving the offense another dynamic for teams to stop.

And now the turnovers. Neither Green-Ellis nor Woodhead has lost a fumble this season. Not only that, neither back has even coughed it up, period.

Want more? In their career, the two have combined for 419 carries without a single fumble. The Patriots will continue to win as long as they dominate the turnover battle, and they have the best in the business at protecting the football.