As dominant as it gets: Patriots defense allows just three points in three games


FOXBORO -- The Patriots came close to making history on Sunday, becoming the first team since the merger to allow fewer than 13 points through their first three games. 

They allowed three points in their opener against the Steelers, zero in a Week 2 shutout over the Dolphins, and 14 against the Jets on Sunday during a 30-14 victory. That gave them 17 total points allowed over three games, meaning they were unable to eclipse the previous record set by the 2001 Packers and 2004 Seahawks (13 points). 

Don't blame the Patriots defense for letting a record slip through the team's fingers, though. 

The Patriots defense wasn't responsible for any of the points allowed Sunday. A muffed punt by Gunner Olszewski in the third quarter bounced around into the Patriots end zone. When it was recovered, a Patriots opponent had put points on the board for the first time since the third quarter of Week 1. Then in the fourth quarter, in his first regular-season drive as a pro, rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham overthrew Brandon Bolden and was picked by Jamal Adams. The Jets safety took it all the way back for a touchdown. 

The special teams score was the first touchdown a Patriots opponent had scored since the Chiefs scored in the fourth quarter of the AFC title game back in January. By holding the Jets scoreless through the first half, the Patriots have now allowed 10 first-half points in their last eight games combined.

Bill Belichick's defense -- with Stephen Belichick apparently calling the majority of, if not all of, the plays -- has been a certifiable wrecking crew through three weeks, both with their pressure schemes and with their sticky coverage in the secondary. Their Week 3 performance was every bit as impressive as what they did the previous week against the Dolphins as they racked up four sacks and an interception. 

Luke Falk had the misfortune of having to see the Patriots defense in his first career start. Falk completed just 12 of 22 passes for 98 yards -- a 4.5 yards per attempt average. The Jets offense crossed midfield for the first time with just a few minutes remaining in the third quarter. 

In coverage, Devin McCourty picked off his third pass in as many games. Duron Harmon also defended a pass coming from the deep safety spot. Stephon Gilmore was barely targeted. Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts batted down passes to force incompletions for the linebacker group. 

Up front, Collins, Dont'a Hightower, Adam Butler, Michael Bennett, Chase Winovich and Van Noy were all in on sacks. Their twists and games at the line of scrimmage had Jets linemen scrambling for the majority of the afternoon. Even when Falk's protectors had their assignments locked down, they were overwhelmed by quickness and power. Falk was hit 10 times in all. 

The Jets were 0-for-13 on third and fourth down conversion attempts, they averaged only 2.2 yards per play, 1.8 yards per rush, and they barely broke the 100-yard mark as an offense, picking up 105 total. 

Bill Belichick's team may have had a record elude them Sunday afternoon. But don't look at the defense. There's not much more they could've done through three weeks.

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