Despite their struggles over the first quarter of the 2014 season, the offensive line has slowly become one of the key strength of the New England Patriots.
Before the game the Lions were 10th in the league with 26 sacks over the season, 2.6 per game. However, the Patriots did not allow a single sack to Lions despite the fact that quarterback Tom Brady dropped back to pass 53 times, an incredibly large number.
Bill Belichick emphasized in his postgame press conference how important it was to limit Detroit defensive tackle Ndamokung Suh’s impact on the game.
“You have to limit him. That guy can ruin a game. You have to know where he is on every play. You have to try to put – look, you can’t not block him. He’s right there in the middle of the defense so somebody has to block him.”
Due in large part to the offensive line’s work, Brady was able to throw for 349 yards and two touchdowns against the No. 1 defense in the league.
“That’s just what we got to do, it’s kind of our job description and we take pride in that” offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer told Inside Handoff after the game about maintaining a clean pocket for Brady.
“It was not perfect by any means, but it was good enough for today. We need to watch film to see what we need to do better and that is what the focus is got to be.”
This performance came despite the fact that starting guard Dan Connolly had to leave the game with an ankle injury and backup Josh Kline had to come in the game and perform in his place.
“It doesn’t change anything when someone goes down. We are all just a collective unit, we just pick up the guns and keep going” rookie center Bryan Stork told me after the game.
Stork also emphasized how much training means to the next-man-up approach.
“We just all try to prepare like we are all going to play, you just never know.”
Although, New England ran for only five yards on six carries in the first half, it is not something that worries the team right now due to how they planned the game and the win, of course.
“We won, we do whatever it takes” Vollmer summarized perfectly after the game.
It has to feel nice for the Patriots that after the terrible outing in Kansas City they were able to put together a solid unit that is actually improving by the week and giving enough time to their quarterback to do his job. Now they must hope that Connolly does not have miss an extended period of time.