The New England Patriots dedicated their 2011 season to the memory of Myra Kraft, the late, beloved wife of owner Robert Kraft who succumbed to cancer. If I had to venture a guess, I would say that the Pats did the Kraft family and all Patriots fans proud in 2011.
Even with a historically-bad defense, the New England Patriots were able to go on a vintage Patriot run en route to their fifth AFC title in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era. When I say that New England’s defense was historically bad in 2011, I’m not kidding.
According to the numbers, the Pats had the 31st-ranked defense in the league (behind the Packers) and gave up the second most yards per game in league history at 411.
Still, as they say, stats are for losers. The Patriots’ defense was the epitome of those famous bend-but-don’t-break defenses of New England past.
They gave up a ton of yards, but stiffened up more times than not in the red zone. That allowed Tom Brady and his electric passing offense (led by Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez) to light up opposing defenses on a weekly basis.
Then, lo and behold, the defense played its best in the playoffs, becoming a major contributing factor in playoff victories over the Broncos and Ravens. Unfortunately for Pats fans, their team came up just short in the Super Bowl rematch with Eli Manning and the Giants.
Despite the loss, you get the feeling that this New England team is one still rising. With a few tweaks (specifically on defense), the Patriots could be back on the Super stage in 2012. Maybe then, they’ll truly honor Myra Kraft’s legacy, albeit a year late.