2 big concerns that arose from the New England Patriots Week 12 win

Dontrell Hilliard #40 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Dontrell Hilliard #40 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Dontrell Hilliard #40 of the Tennessee Titans runs for a touchdown in the second quarter against the New England Patriots (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots area for concern No. 2: The run defense

The main reason for New England’s turnaround this season has been their defense. Opponents haven’t been able to get anything going against them recently, whether it be through the ground or the air, and it’s resulted in lopsided scores. While a 23 point margin of victory typically implies a lopsided game, that wasn’t exactly the case yesterday.

For much of the first three quarters, the Titans kept this game close thanks to their ground game. Ryan Tannehill had virtually no success passing the ball (11/21, 93 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT), as the secondary did their job. But Tennessee managed to continually move the ball up and down the field thanks to a pair of 100 yard rushing performances from Dontrell Hilliard (12 CAR, 131 YDS, 1 TD) and D’Onta Foreman (19 CAR, 109 YDS).

In total, Tennessee finished with 270 yards on 39 carries (good for nearly seven yards per carry) and a score. Typically when you give up that much yardage on the ground, you are going to lose. But an opportunistic Patriots defense managed to force four turnovers, which ended up putting most of those yards to waste for the AFC South leaders.

It’s one thing if Titans star running back Derrick Henry is bulldozing his was to a huge day against your defense, but there is really no reason that Tennessee should have been able to gash this defense all day long.

Neither Hilliard or Foreman had amassed 100 total rushing yards on the season before this game, yet they managed to surpass that against one of the best defenses in the league in one game. It’s not as if New England was missing any key players either, making things all the more confusing.

Hopefully this is just a one off performance from the Pats, because they have some much more difficult challenges coming ahead of them. While the Bills don’t have a top tier running back, Josh Allen always poses a threat on the ground, which can help open things up. And after their Week 14 bye, the Patriots have a meeting with Jonathan Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts, and with the way Taylor has been running recently, you can bet New England will need to be on their A game there.

Maybe it’s because the Patriots have been playing from ahead a lot recently, forcing teams to abandon the run game, but the run defenses’ struggles were a very large concern that arose from a seemingly dominant win. If the defense doesn’t force some timely turnovers, it’s probably getting more attention right now. Hopefully the coaching staff can make some quick fixes, because they are going to need to be at their best over their next few games.