Patriots - Buccaneers: Statistically Speaking
Dillon: Key to the Patriots success
Dillon: Key to the Patriots success

Posted Dec 14, 2005


For perhaps the first time this season, the Patriots are starting to look like a team with direction. The Pats have won two in a row and four of their last five. The roster is coming together at the right time. But there is one alarming statistic. New England is just 2-5 against teams with a winning record, and the Buccaneers come into Foxboro on Saturday at 9-4. Patriots Insider Ricky Popolizio takes a look at the numbers and shares some keys to the game.

New England (8-5) can now clinch the AFC East division title and a playoff spot with a win or a Miami loss in any of the final three regular season games. The Pats are almost certainly in the playoffs. But the key to postseason success still lies in the team’s ability to build momentum as the season winds down.

The 52-man roster is as healthy as it has been all year. Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour are playing better. Cornerback Ellis Hobbs has transformed from a questionable fill-in to among the teams most reliable. While New England is 2-5 against teams with winning records, the Bucs are 4-2 against the league’s elite, and 5-2 on the road. The matchup will be a good measuring stick to see just how far the Pats have come now in week 15.

The Corey Dillon Effect:

New England gained 494 total yards last Sunday against the Bills. Of those yards, 154 were on the ground, and 102 were made up by Corey Dillon. It was only the second time this season Dillon reached the century mark. However, Dillon has averaged over four yards per carry the past two games and has scored one touchdown in each outing.

Dillon was given 16 carries against the New York Jets two weeks ago and 22 carries against the Bills last week. His effectiveness against Buffalo allowed New England to maintain ball possession for almost 42 minutes of the game. Dillon appears to be getting better every week. He has shown no signs of wear and tear late in the season. Dillon and Kevin Faulk will be particularly important in bad weather on Sunday

Corey Dillon’s numbers, game by game:

Wk

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

1

Oakland

23

63

2.7

2

2

Carolina

14

36

2.6

0

3

Pittsburgh

22

61

2.8

2

4

San Diego

14

63

4.5

1

5

Atlanta

23

106

4.6

0

6

Denver

DNP

-

-

-

7

Bye

-

-

-

-

8

Buffalo

21

72

4.0

2

9

Indianapolis

13

40

3.3

0

10

Miami

DNP

-

-

-

11

New Orleans

DNP

-

-

-

12

Kansas City

DNP

-

-

-

13

NY Jets

16

65

4.1

1

14

Buffalo

22

102

4.6

1

TOTALS

164

608

3.7

9

Corey Dillon started the season slow, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry in the first three games. Since coming back from a high ankle sprain and hurt calf, he has averaged 4.35 yards per carry and now is averaging 3.7 this season (T-31st in NFL). His 83.5 yards per game over the last two outings is also much improved over his season average of 60.8 (26th in NFL).

Buccaneers Rush Defense:

Tampa Bay has the fifth ranked rush defense in the league, as they are giving up 92.8 yards per game this season. However, the rush defense has been less impressive in the second half of the year. Through weeks 1-6, the Buccaneers allowed no 100 yard rushers, and primary running backs averaged just 38 yards a game.

Since week eight, the Bucs have allowed three 100 yard rushers and an average of 84.7 yards per game. Despite the slide in production, Tampa Bay has been stellar against the run the past three weeks. They have allowed zero rushing touchdowns and just 167 rushing yards in the last three games.

How the Buccaneers have fared against opposing runners:

Wk

RB

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

1

Moe Williams

MIN

6

15

2.5

0

2

Willis McGahee

BUF

13

34

2.6

0

3

Ahman Green

GB

19

58

3.1

0

4

Kevin Jones

DET

12

38

3.2

1

5

Curtis Martin

NYJ

23

59

2.6

2

6

Ronnie Brown

MIA

9

24

2.2

1

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

-

8

Kevan Barlow

SF

26

101

3.9

0

9

Stephen Davis

CAR

12

48

4.0

2

10

Clinton Portis

WAS

23

144

6.3

1

11

Dunn/Duckett

ATL

32

133

4.2

1

12

Thomas Jones

CHI

25

72

2.9

0

13

Antowain Smith

NO

18

49

2.7

0

14

DeShaun Foster

CAR

14

46

3.3

0

Avg. per game (primary RB)

17.85

63.15

3.5

0.62

Brady’s Impact:

Tom Brady was the man against Buffalo. He threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns. All that happened after Brady hurt his left leg on a three yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Brady also improved on many impressive records: 11-1 when passing for over 300 yards, 19-0 when the temperature is less than 40 degrees, 29-4 in games played after Thanksgiving. Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year even made a block (although he was penalized) on a reverse. He has completed over 70% of his passes and earned QB ratings above 90 in his last two outings. The Buccaneers have not allowed an opposing QB to reach either of Brady’s recent marks over the last three games.

Tampa Bay is the only team that Brady has never played against. Brady is 24-6 when facing a team for the first time.

Brady’s numbers week by week:

Wk

Opponent

Att/comp

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

1

Oakland

24/48

306

63.2%

2

0

105.8

2

Carolina

23/44

270

52.3%

1

1

69.3

3

Pittsburgh

31/41

372

75.6%

0

1

92.7

4

San Diego

19/32

224

59.4%

1

1

78.1

5

Atlanta

22/27

350

81.5%

3

1

140.4

6

Denver

24/46

299

52.2%

1

0

79.9

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

-

-

8

Buffalo

14/21

199

66.7%

1

0

113.0

9

Indianapolis

22/33

265

66.7%

3

0

121.4

10

Miami

21/36

275

58.3%

2

2

77.9

11

New Orleans

15/29

222

51.7%

3

0

111.6

12

Kansas City

22/40

248

55.0%

1

4

42.5

13

NY Jets

27/37

271

73.0%

0

0

93.4

14

Buffalo

29/38

329

76.3%

2

2

97.4

If Corey Dillon has trouble running the ball, Brady will have to throw more and that could play into the hands of Tampa Bay. Brady has thrown six interceptions in his last three games, and the Bucs have been very opportunistic when it comes to creating turnovers. However, Tom Brady is gaining a lot of yards through the air. His 3,630 passing yards leads the NFL.

Buccaneers Pass Defense:

Tampa Bay is allowing 178 passing yards per game, the fifth best mark in the NFL. New England’s passing offense is averaging 268.7 yards per game, the second most productive passing unit in the league. Something will have to give on Saturday. While Brady has been extremely productive lately, he has also thrown several interceptions. The Bucs have made eight picks in the last six games and will capitalize if Brady makes mistakes.

Tampa Bay has several big time playmakers on defense. Simeon Rice is having an outstanding year and currently has nine sacks and one interception. Ronde Barber, who had three interceptions two weeks ago against New Orleans, has five total picks. Fellow cornerback Brian Kelly has four interceptions. Shelton Quarles and Derrick Brooks have combined for 204 tackles. All of these playmakers make the up league’s third best defense (5th best pass defense). It will be a battle between the Bucs’ excellent pass defense and the Patriots’ second ranked passing offense.

How opposing QB’s have faired vs. the Buccaneers this season:

Wk

QB

Opp

Att/comp

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

1

Daunte Culpepper

MIN

22/33

233

66.7 %

0

3

49.2

2

J.P. Losman

BUF

11/28

113

39.3%

0

0

51.6

3

Brett Favre

GB

14/24

195

58.3%

2

3

72.7

4

Joey Harrington

DET

15/27

137

55.6%

0

0

69.5

5

Vinny Testaverde

NYJ

13/19

163

68.4%

0

1

72.9

6

Gus Frerotte

MIA

21/43

267

48.8%

0

0

68.7

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

8

Ken Dorsey

SF

7/18

40

38.9%

0

0

47.0

9

Jake Delhomme

CAR

11/18

216

61.1%

1

0

121.5

10

Mark Brunell

WAS

23/35

226

65.7%

2

2

79.0

11

Michael Vick

ATL

21/38

306

55.3%

2

0

99.2

12

Kyle Orton

CHI

14/28

134

50.0%

1

1

60.7

13

Aaron Brooks

NO

18/34

215

52.9%

0

4

33.0

14

Jake Delhomme

CAR

21/33

220

63.6%

1

1

80.4

Tom Brady completed 73% of his passes two weeks ago against the Jets and 76.3% last week against Buffalo. Tampa Bay has not allowed an opposing quarterback to complete over 70% of their passes all season long. Also, the Bucs have only allowed two QB’s to reach a rating of 90 or above. Brady has surpassed that mark in eight of 13 games.

Buccaneers Cadillac Williams :

When Cadillac Williams is sufficiently handed the ball, he runs all over opposing defenses. Only twice this year has Williams not reached the century mark when given 18 carries or more. His 924 rushing yards this season is 14th in the NFL and his 84 yards per game is 12th.

After a quick start where Williams ran for 434 yards in the first three games of the season, he was slowed by foot and hamstring injuries. He missed weeks 5 and 6 and received only 45 carries in weeks 4, 8, 9 and 10 combined. Since week 11, Williams has gotten back on track with 408 yards (4.65 avg per carry) and three touchdowns in the last four games. However, the young back will be challenged by a revamped Patriots rush defense that has allowed an incredible 55 total rushing yards in the last two games.

Here are Williams’ numbers, game by game:

Wk

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

1

Minnesota

27

148

5.5

1

2

Buffalo

24

128

5.3

1

3

Green Bay

37

158

4.3

0

4

Detroit

11

13

1.2

0

5

New York Jets

DNP

-

-

-

6

Miami

DNP

-

-

-

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

8

San Francisco

13

20

1.5

0

9

Carolina

11

29

2.6

0

10

Washington

10

20

2.0

0

11

Atlanta

19

116

6.1

1

12

Chicago

20

84

4.2

0

13

New Orleans

22

96

4.4

0

14

Carolina

29

112

3.9

2

TOTALS

223

924

4.1

5

Patriots Rush Defense:

The New England Patriots have excelled in stopping the run the past two weeks. The Bills gained only 14 yards on 12 carries (1.2 avg) against the Pats in week 14. The 14 yards on the ground were the second fewest allowed in the history of the franchise. The previous week against the Jets, the Patriots allowed Curtis Martin and Co. only 41 yards.

The recent success in stopping the run can be attributed to a number of recent improvements. Richard Seymour and Rosevelt Colvin are together becoming a force on defense. They each had a sack against the Bills last Sunday. Colvin, who looks as explosive as he ever has in the NFL, has recorded a sack in three straight games. Tedy Bruschi has provided increased stability each week in the middle. Against the Bills, Bruschi deflected a Losman pass in the final quarter that led to a James Sanders interception for a touchdown. The Patriots defensive line has been stingy and is making plays.

How opponent RB’s have done vs. the Pats:

Wk

RB

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

1

Lamont Jordan

OAK

18

70

3.9

0

2

Stephen Davis

CAR

25

77

3.1

3

3

Willie Parker

PIT

17

55

3.2

0

4

LaDainian Tomlinson

SD

25

134

5.4

2

5

Warrick Dunn

ATL

19

83

4.4

0

6

Anderson/Bell

DEN

28

171

6.1

2

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

-

8

Willis McGahee

BUF

31

136

4.4

0

9

Edgerrin James

IND

34

104

3.1

1

10

Ronnie Brown

MIA

14

64

4.6

0

11

Antowain Smith

NO

11

32

2.9

0

12

Larry Johnson

KC

31

119

3.8

1

13

Curtis Martin

NYJ

15

29

1.9

0

14

Willis McGahee

BUF

8

3

0.4

0

Avg. per game (only primary RB)

21.23

82.85

3.9

.69

The 32 rushing yards allowed to primary running backs (55 rushing yards total) Curtis Martin and Willis McGahee in two games combined is the same number of rushing yards the Pats allowed in their third best showing against New Orleans’ Antowain Smith.

Although the Pats have allowed more carries, yards, yards per carry, and rushing touchdowns than the Bucs this season, they have showed improvement. New England has allowed a primary back to rush for over 65 yards only once in their last five outings. This is significant, as the Pats were run all over by four 100 yard rushers in five games between weeks 4-9. Cadillac Williams, who has averaged 102 yards over the last four games, will be a real challenge for New England.

Chris Simms as the Buccaneers starter:

The Buccaneers have won four of their last five games because Chris Simms has been solid at quarterback (Williams has also run well). During that stretch, Simms has thrown only one interception and has a QB rating of 86.42. The two previous games against San Francisco and Carolina, Simms had a rating of 71.2 and 65.5. The Bucs lost both games.

Although Simms has only thrown for over 200 yards twice in his last five outings, it is evident that the Bucs are most successful with a good mix of run and pass. Against Carolina last Sunday, Simms had a career high 74.1% of his passes completed.  

Wide receiver Joey Galloway is having a tremendous season. He currently is fifth in the NFL in receiving yards (1114). Since Simms became the Bucs starter in week 8, he has found Galloway for 615 of his 1383 total passing yards (44.32%). Galloway is clearly Simms’ go-to-guy.

Simms’ game-by-game breakdown:

Wk

Opponent

Att/comp

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

1

Minnesota

DNP

-

-

-

-

-

2

Buffalo

DNP

-

-

-

-

-

3

Green Bay

DNP

-

-

-

-

-

4

Detroit

DNP

-

-

-

-

-

5

New York Jets

DNP

-

-

-

-

-

6

Miami

6/10

69

60.0%

0

0

80.8

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

-

-

8

San Francisco

21/34

264

61.8%

1

2

71.2

9

Carolina

25/42

259

59.5%

1

2

65.5

10

Washington

15/29

279

51.7%

3

0

119.8

11

Atlanta

11/19

118

57.9%

0

1

54.3

12

Chicago

19/30

202

63.3%

0

0

82.9

13

New Orleans

12/21

123

57.1%

1

0

90.0

14

Carolina

20/27

138

74.1%

0

0

85.1

Patriots Pass Defense:

As cornerback Ellis Hobbs recently explained on WEEI, the Patriots’ pass defense has a symbiotic relationship with the run defense. When the D-line is successful not only in stopping the run, but also in pressuring the QB, the secondary is able to make more plays. This was evident against the Bills last week. A Tedy Bruschi deflection resulted in an interception returned for a touchdown by James Sanders. In the third quarter, Losman threw a bad pass that was picked off by Ellis Hobbs, who now leads the team with three interceptions this season. Asante Samuel also had a pick.

After picking off only one pass in the first six games of the season, New England has since made eight interceptions in seven games. These turnovers have been instrumental in the Patriots recent success.

The Pats have not faced the Bucs since Belichick’s first game as New England’s head coach in 2000. Chris Simms hasn’t thrown an interception in three games, but the Pats will look to reverse that trend by giving Tampa Bay some different looks. Rosevelt Colvin and Richard Seymour will need to put pressure on the young QB and improve a Patriots defense that is ranked 30th in the NFL in sacks per pass play.

Despite recent improvement, New England still has the 31st ranked pass defense in the NFL. But the Pats are giving up 248.8 yards a game now, as opposed to 267.5 prior to the win against the Jets.

Game-by-game break down of opposing QB’s vs. the Pats:

Wk

QB

Opp

Att/comp

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

1

Kerry Collins

OAK

18/39

265

46.2 %

3

0

94.5

2

Jake Delhomme

CAR

11/26

154

42.3%

0

1

46.0

3

Ben Roethlisberger

PIT

12/28

216

42.6%

2

0

93.7

4

Drew Brees

SD

19/24

248

79.2%

2

0

137.5

5

Matt Schaub

ATL

18/34

298

52.9%

3

0

112.1

6

Jake Plummer

DEN

17/24

262

70.8%

2

0

134.4

7

BYE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

Kelly Holcomb

BUF

20/33

263.

60.6%

1

1

83.3

9

Payton Manning

IND

28/37

321

75.7%

3

1

117.1

10

Gus Frerotte

MIA

25/47

360

53.2%

2

1

83.6

11

Aaron Brooks

NO

27/50

343

54.0%

2

1

80.7

12

Trent Green

KC

19/26

323

73.1%

1

0

127.6

13

Brooks Bollinger

NYJ

15/37

135

40.5%

0

1

39.8

14

J.P. Losman

BUF

10/27

181

37.0%

1

3

33.6

After allowing opposing QB’s to pass for 300+ yards in four consecutive games, New England has allowed just 316 passing yards in the last two contests. The Pats have also kept opposing quarterback completion percentages below 50 and QB ratings below 40 in the last two weeks. Tampa Bay has allowed 435 passing yards the last two games.

Injury Impact:

Ben Watson, who has taken on a bigger role lately with Daniel Graham sidelined with a shoulder injury, is listed as questionable. If Graham and Watson are both out, Christian Fauria, who caught a touchdown past last weekend at Buffalo, will start at TE. Tampa Bay currently has no major injuries reported.

Final Thoughts:

The New England Patriots are beginning to look like a team that could become dangerous in the playoffs. A few weeks ago, it looked as if the Pats were certainly no longer among the league’s elite, but the team is finally taking shape.

Ellis Hobbs has played exceptionally well at cornerback. Rosevelt Colvin looks quick and strong. Corey Dillon does not look like a 31 year old back entering week 15 of the season. Richard Seymour has recently commented on how he feels the team looks much better now than it did earlier this season. The team has recently put up all-time highs on offense and given up all-time lows on defense.

All that being said, the Patriots are still an 8-5 playoff-bound team that is only 2-5 against teams with winning records. New England needs to win this game. If the Pats can’t beat the Bucs, they have no chance against the Colts, or maybe even the Bengals. One final crucial factor for Saturday’s game at Gillette Stadium: the game-time temperature will likely favor New England in a big way.

 

Ricky Popolizio is a regular contributor to Patriots Insider. For more of his past articles search the archives. To contact Ricky visit his bio page


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