Beaten in their base defense

December, 17, 2012
12/17/12
3:10
PM ET
One of the staples of Bill Belichick's coaching tenure is a fundamentally sound base defense. It has been rare to see an opponent consistently choose to attack the Patriots in their base.

That's what made Sunday night's game against the 49ers so different.

In updating this week's "base vs. sub defense" statistics, it was eye-opening that the Patriots were only in sub (five or more defensive backs) on 11 of 67 snaps, which is easily a season low.

The 49ers loaded the field with backs and tight ends, and as ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi noted, the formation variation hurt the Patriots. The 49ers decided to run right at the Patriots and they were effective in totaling 39 rushes for 180 yards (4.6 avg.). Usually a Patriots base defense puts up greater resistance (as noted by some commenters, 31 of those yards did come on a fake punt).

The season breakdown:

vs. 49ers
Base: 51 of 67
Sub: 11 of 67
Short-yardage: 5 of 67

vs. Texans
Base:
47 of 70
Sub: 20 of 70
Short-yardage: 3 of 70

at Dolphins
Sub: 36 of 63
Base: 27 of 63
Short-yardage: 0 of 63

at Jets
Sub:
49 of 72
Base: 22 of 72
Short-yardage: 1 of 72

vs. Colts
Sub: 54 of 78
Base: 22 of 78
Short-yardage: 2 of 78

vs. Bills
Sub: 62 of 81
Base: 17 of 81
Short-yardage: 2 of 81

at Rams
Base: 39 of 63
Sub: 24 of 63
Short-yardage: 0 of 63

vs. Jets
Base: 50 of 84
Sub: 32 of 84
Short-yardage: 2 of 84

at Seahawks
Base: 40 of 56
Sub: 16 of 56
Short-yardage: 0 of 56

vs. Broncos
Sub: 60 of 66
Base: 5 of 66
Short-yardage: 1 of 66

at Bills
Sub: 58 of 71
Base: 13 of 71
Short-yardage: 0 of 71

at Ravens
Base: 37 of 73
Sub: 36 of 73
Short-yardage: 0 of 73

vs. Cardinals
Sub: 30 of 64
Base: 29 of 64
Short-yardage: 5 of 64

at Titans
Sub: 42 of 65
Base: 21 of 65
Short-yardage: 2 of 65

FINAL NUMBERS: This puts the 14-game total at 53.9 percent in sub packages (530 of 982, including penalties). That's lower than last year, which was in the 60 percent range.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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