The New England Patriots defense has thrived on takeaways. Their +25 turnover ratio towers over the +12 ratio of the Houston Texans. It's amazing really, considering that the Pats D is often criticized yet they come up big. To this day they still embody the "bend but don't break" defense that they have for years. Boston.com's Zuri Berry recently wrote an article about what Texans Coach Gary Kubiak had to say on the topic; "The most important thing is to win the turnover battle." He then went on to talk about Tom Brady and his lack of turnovers...
"(Brady) gets rid of the ball extremely quick, which can frustrate a defense from that standpoint," Kubiak said. "They’ll just sit there and nitpick you and make you pay for every little mistake you make. He’s exceptional."Reducing turnovers on offense and then forcing them on defense and special teams dictates a game. It's a process of limiting mistakes, then jumping when an opportunity rises. Throughout the 2012 regular season, the Patriots have won the turnover battle 12 times, tied 3 times, and lost it only once. In the games that they won the turnover battle, their record is 10-2. In games that they tied in turnovers, their record is 2-1. The one game that they lost the turnover battle, they lost.
The game in which the Patriots lost the turnover battle was against the San Francisco 49ers. Before the remarkable comeback, two interceptions and two fumbles helped dig the Patriots into a 28-point deficit. These mistakes not only prevented the offense from getting into a groove, but it put the defense in bad positions. After the last of 4 turnovers (Brady's second interception) the offense sparked a huge comeback while the defense stood their ground. Although it was a valiant effort, the Patriots fell just short and lost 41-34. If the offense didn't have so many turnovers, or even if the defense could've come up with more takeaways, maybe the game would have panned out differently.
As Kubiak said, the turnover battle will be crucial in Sunday's game. It should be noted that in the previous match-up against the Texans, the teams tied in turnovers with 1. Will takeaways prove to be as important as they are being hyped up to be? I think so.... but we will find out on Sunday.
Stats via ESPN.com and NFL.com