Patriots pass rush worse when it adds heat

September, 10, 2010
9/10/10
10:22
AM ET
I'm not delivering any news bulletins when I write the New England Patriots need to figure out how to manufacture a pass rush this year.

They tied for 23rd in sacks last year. Outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain led them with 10, good enough to tie for 11th in the league. But half of his sacks were against the Buffalo Bills and seven came in three games. The Patriots released Derrick Burgess last week.

ESPN Stats & Information, which breaks down film of every NFL play, passed along some stats that underscore New England's problem.

Over the past two seasons, the Patriots have recorded only 26 sacks with four-man pressure. That's tied for 26th.

Their effectiveness wasn't better when Bill Belichick decided to send more defenders after the quarterback.

When the Patriots rushed five or more defenders the past two years, they have surrendered 12 more touchdowns than they've forced interceptions (tied for 28th in that situation), allowed an 89.8 passer rating (25th) and permitted a touchdown pass to be thrown per an average of 14.3 pass attempts (31st).

The Patriots open their season Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals with the NFL's most inexperienced cornerback tandem. Darius Butler has five NFL starts, and Devin McCourty is a rookie.

Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens have to be excited about this matchup.

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