Defending the pass is so critical in today's NFL with teams racking up historic numbers through the air, and the New England Patriots excelled in this area throughout the 2018 season.
The Patriots led the league in forced incompletions last season (including the playoffs). Here's how they compared with the other top teams, per Pro Football Focus:
Led mainly by Stephon Gilmore – the Patriots led the league as a team in forced incompletions pic.twitter.com/7gSpSGUWCu— PFF (@PFF) March 10, 2019
In the regular season, opposing quarterbacks had a 61.2 completion percentage against the Patriots, which was the second-lowest mark in the league. New England also surrendered the fifth-fewest yards per pass attempt (6.9) in the league.
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, as noted in the tweet above, played a huge part in the success of New England's pass defense. The leader of the Patriots' underrated secondary was named to the Pro Bowl, the NFL's All-Pro team and PFF's All-Pro team.
The Patriots saved arguably their best pass defense performance of the season for Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams. New England pressured Rams quarterback Jared Goff all night, forcing him into several bad throws and a fatal mistake late in the game when Gilmore intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots should have a strong pass defense again in 2019, especially with veteran safety Devin McCourty (and maybe his brother Jason, too) coming back for another season.
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