Commentary

Patriots win in face of formula

New England keeps losing key statistical battles but managing wins; is it a concern?

Originally Published: January 25, 2012
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Patriots CelebrateJim Rogash/Getty ImagesTom Brady and the New England Patriots are headed back to the Super Bowl -- again.

The 1967 Green Bay Packers were Vince Lombardi's last championship team, and they were very much unlike their title-winning predecessors.

The earlier Green and Gold champions were dominant powerhouses both on the scoreboard and stat sheet, but these Packers saw such a huge comparative drop-off in many important stat areas that one might wonder how in the world they managed to win as often as they did (a division-leading 9-4-1 mark).

Green Bay quarterbacks threw 27 interceptions that season. The Packers also gave up the third-highest sack rate (11 percent), were tied for next-to-last in the league in rush yards allowed per carry (4.2), scored 17 or fewer points in seven of their 14 regular-season games and gave up 21 or more points five times. They did not top the 100-yard rushing mark on offense in five games and did not reach the 150-yard passing mark eight times.

The secret of Green Bay's success in pulling off a championship run under these circumstances is that it had tremendous strengths (lowest passer rating allowed, highest passing YPA on offense) that allowed it to overcome what looked to be insurmountable statistical obstacles.

This year's New England Patriots look in many ways to be a carbon copy of that club, as they're winning despite having huge weaknesses on the stat sheet.

For proof, consider the AFC Championship Game against the Ravens, in which Baltimore outgained New England on the ground and in the air.