Bills vs. Patriots 2012: New England front 7 an unexpected weakness on defense?

Jim Rogash

The Patriots improved to 6-3 in Week 10, but some problems on the defensive side of the ball will need to be addressed going forward.

The New England Patriots held on to defeat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, but it didn't come easily down the stretch.

The Pats had to hold off the Bills on two separate occasions as the Buffalo offense attempted to close the deficit in the final 15 minutes of the game. A Fred Jackson fumble in red zone and Ryan Fitzpatrick interception in the end zone preserved the New England win and boosted their record to 6-3 for the season.

Bill Belichick's defense struggled again, as the Bills made it too close for comfort and were able to consistently put together sustained drives. The weakness of the secondary and its inability to stop opponents from racking up gaudy numbers in the passing game was already well-known. But after the narrow 6-point win, Tony Santorsa from Pats Pulpit also examined the front seven and their ability to stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback:

Could New England's front seven just have been a mirage thus far in 2012? It very well could have.

The Patriots run defense and pass rush did not look impressive at all Sunday against the Bills. New England's run defense couldn't stop a nose bleed as they let C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson absolutely shred them apart for a whopping 150 yards. Spiller averaged 7.8 yards per-carry while Jackson averaged 5.0 yards per-carry.

This is an obvious problem that needs to be addressed.

As for the pass-rush, where was it? It was a non-factor as Fitzpatrick nearly had all day to throw the ball.

These are just some of the hard questions Santorsa is asking the day after the win. New England is in firm control of the AFC East now, after their three divisional cohorts lost in Week 10. But there are clear issues that need to be addressed as the playoff push approaches.

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