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Patriots vs. Jets: Can New England Continue to Thrive off Turnovers?

Nov. 22, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots strong safety Steve Gregory (28) celebrates after intercepting a pass against the New York Jets during the first half on Thanksgiving at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
Erik FrenzSenior Writer INovember 23, 2012

The New England Patriots have the most interesting defense in the NFL.

They don't always get stops, but when they do, they prefer turnovers.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

The Patriots picked up five turnovers off the New York Jets on Thanksgiving, turning all five into touchdowns on their way to a blowout 49-19 win at MetLife Stadium.

It was a string of miscues which led directly to the Patriots scoring 35 points in the second quarter, including 21 points in 52 seconds off three combined fumbles from running back Shonn Greene, quarterback Mark Sanchez and kick returner Joe McKnight, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

This is nothing new for New England. The Patriots have lived and died by turnovers for years. The question is whether they'll end up on the wrong side of the double-edged sword in January.

That's not a question we can possibly answer just yet, but the Patriots are getting their practice in now. They are now up to 31 turnovers on the season, including 12 in the past three games. They are an astounding plus-24 in turnover margin.

How will they fare when they struggle to create turnovers?

The Patriots can't get stops on third downs, they can't get stops in the red zone and they certainly can't get stops through the air.

This is the same recipe the Patriots rode to regular-season success in 2010, only to see their strategy come crumbling down around them in their first postseason game against the Jets. Their defense was predicated off turnovers once again in 2011, averaging over two turnovers per game that season before getting just two total turnovers in three postseason games and zero in Super Bowl XLVI.

It's a risky strategy, to be sure, because if it bottoms out at the wrong time, it could cost them their chance at a Lombardi Trophy, regardless of how effective it is in the regular season.

Unless they find other ways to get stops, their ticket to New Orleans will be paid for in forced fumbles and interceptions in the two or three games they play in January.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained via team press releases.

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