“They’re all big, strong, ferocious players,” Patriots wideout Julian Edelman said. “They play in their scheme. They’re well coached. They play hard.”
The New England Patriots don’t have a name for their secondary (Legion of Whom?), but the unit is every bit as good as the one you will find in Seattle, starting with Darrelle Revis.
Revis allowed just 41 catches on 79 targets for 557 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions during the regular season, for a 72.6 passer rating against. In the playoffs that has dropped to 53.8. Revis, unlike Sherman, follows a receiver around the field — and that necessitates going inside for slot coverage. On those snaps he has allowed just seven catches on 22 targets for a minuscule 24.6 passer rating against, which includes the playoffs.
“Revis is a guy that can take on any guy any week,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re short, quick or a big guy with a long stride.”
On the other side is Browner, who played well during the regular season (89.7 passer rating against) but has been more of a “bend-don’t-break” corner in the playoffs (four catches on five targets for 67 yards with just three of those yards after the catch).
Kyle Arrington often gets overlooked, but he did a tremendous job shutting down Colts’ deep threat T.Y. Hilton and has allowed just one touchdown against all season (Week 6 against Buffalo).
Safety Devin McCourty don’t get nearly enough recognition, but he has allowed just 0.29 yards per snap in coverage to receivers and has three interceptions over the regular season and playoffs. Patrick Chung finished the regular season with 61 tackles and assisted on 33 others, plus defended seven passes. The 27-year-old also made 34 stops against the run.
But if you were looking at which team has the edge, it’s almost too close to call.
According to the game charters at Pro Football Focus, the Seahawks and Patriots are in almost a dead heat in pass coverage and passer rating against.
Here is how Pro Football Focus rated each of the corners, with Sherman and Revis leading their respective teams in terms of overall ability.
Collectively, the Patriots have the edge in overall performance of the safeties.
“Everybody’s important. I think everybody who plays will be important,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said. “Each person will have a role to play in this game – every coach, every player on offense, defense, and special teams. We’ll need everybody to be at their best.”