After another impressive outing, optimism continues to build around Patriots’ defense

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(Adam Richins/Boston Sports Journal)

Sunday’s win over the Bills was another good sign the Patriots’ defense is trending in the right direction.

In a year where they have struggled to slow mobile quarterbacks, the New England run defense was able to turn in an impressive performance, holding Josh Allen to 30 yards on five carries and the Bills to 72 yards on the ground as a whole — their least-productive day in more than a month. The 24-12 win also marked the third consecutive week where the Patriots yielded fewer points than they did the week before.

Looking at the numbers, it has been building to this point the last few weeks with the defense. The low point? Likely the 34-10 loss to the Titans in November, a defeat that capped a five-game stretch where the Patriots allowed 30 or more points in three games. At that point in the season, 10 games in, New England was allowing 23.6 points per game, 14th in the league.

In the five games since, the Patriots have allowed 17.2 points per game. Overall, New England has allowed 86 points in that run, with more than half of them in one contest (34 vs. Miami). The Patriots have allowed one touchdown over the last six quarters — a garbage-time score by the Bills on Sunday.

It hasn’t been perfect, but for a New England team that has struggled in the passing game the last couple of week, it was good enough on Sunday, allowing the Patriots to come away with a 12-point win and clinch the AFC East.

There are plenty of ways to measure defensive success, but defensive lineman Trey Flowers boiled things down to a simple formula for us after Sunday's win.