FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots didn’t have their finest outing against the Buffalo Bills in Week 10, allowing 481 yards of total offense and 35 first downs. But that doesn’t mean the team still doesn’t get respect for its body of work from opponents, especially for its front seven that has played incredibly well.
Indianapolis Colt Andrew Luck, who will visit Gillette Stadium for the first time on Sunday, lauded the Patriots defensive line in a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon.
“I think their front four is incredibly stout,” Luck said. “Obviously, Wilfork is one of the best nose tackles, interior guys in the league. And then two, they have very good pass, edge rushers on the side. So they do get to the quarterback and even if it’s not a sack, it’s a sort of harass, force an early throw, force the quarterback out of the pocket. So that’ll be a focus all week and I’m sure our line will do a great job and it’ll be a great job for them.”
At the same time, the Patriots’ secondary has struggled mightily. The team’s pass defense is ranked 29th in the NFL, allowing 285.3 yards per game. But Luck, when looking at the defense as a whole, doesn’t see that when he looks at the film.
“I think they do a great job of creating turnovers in opportune times for the offense and very opportunistic times for themselves,” he said. “Whether it’s in the red zone, backed up, or when teams are on big drives, so they do a great job of that. I think they’re just a solid defense all the way around.
On the Patriots secondary in particular, the rookie quarterback says there’s a bit of mystery to the unit.
“I think they do a great job of mixing up coverages and disguising coverages,” he said. “So it’s hard to get a beat on what they’re doing. They got obviously some [players] banged up here and there, but they do a great job I think of getting the job done. So it’ll be a very tough test for us.”
Luck has taken over a Colts team at quarterback that had been led by Peyton Manning since 1998. In those 14 years, Manning waged epic battles against Tom Brady and the Patriots with the rivalry only softening with Manning’s departure. But Luck was certainly tuned in to the rivalry at its zenith.
“As a young quarterback growing up, that’s the opportunity to watch the two sort of benchmarks of quarterback play,” he said. “Some great playoff games at both stadiums. I think Gillette had grass a while back, it’d get fairly muddy sometimes late in the year watching them play. Those were always fun for a lot of people, including me.”