After amassing nearly 500 yards on the ground in the previous two weeks, the Patriots were held to just 86 yards on 27 carries on Sunday in Seattle. It stood in stark contrast to the relative ease -- and overall dependence -- the team showed in running the football against the Bills and Broncos.
On a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels explained the decision to favor the pass and deviate from the run-heavy attack was a counter to the scheme that Seattle runs on defense.
"We usually try to make a good choice of what we end up trying or how we end up trying to play the game, and we knew Seattle was a really good, talented defense," he said. "We knew that there's certainly some challenges playing there, in that stadium. And then couple that with their scheme, where they really play with a safety down, either in the box or at the line of scrimmage on almost every play, we knew we were going to rely a little bit more heavily on our passing game as kind of an extension of our running game yesterday."
Specifically, McDaniels noted the incorporation of the short passing game to control the clock and matriculate down the field against Seattle's aggressive front.
"We mixed the running game in there, I think it was 27 runs, whatever it may be, and then used a lot of short passes to kind of go hand-in-hand with that, to try to overall control the clock and really try to effectively move the ball against the scheme that they have, which is a good one," he added. "And they have a lot of good players. Going into the game, we kind of knew we would be a little heavier throwing the football than we were in the past few weeks."
Quarterback Tom Brady set a new career-high with 58 pass attempts on Sunday, marking the eighth time in his career that he has attempted 50 or more passes during a regular season game.
The Patriots have been able to successfully strike a balance throughout much of the regular season, with a passing attack that checks in third in yards per game, and a rushing attack that ranks fourth league-wide in yards per game.
Of note, however, is that the Patriots have won each of the three games in which they have run the football more times than they have passed the football, and lost each of the three games that they have thrown it more than they have run it.
The offense has been at its best when weaving runs and passes at an even clip during the course of a game, and might be able to do so this weekend against the Jets, who have allowed the second-most rushing yards in all of football.