By Gregory Hunt
The recent injury woes of the playoff-bound New England Patriots have been well-documented this season, but thanks to a blog known as Man Games Lost, there is some empirical data to show how strongly the team has been impacted. According to the blog, the Patriots led the NFL this season with 245 games lost to injury among the players on the team’s roster. The New York Giants were second in the league with 236 games lost, while the Baltimore Ravens were third with 245. Neither the Giants nor the Ravens qualified for the playoffs.
Patriots adept at overcoming injuries
Following the Patriots, the team that lost the most man-games but still qualified for the playoffs are the Washington Redskins with 215 games lost, fourth-most in the league. The Redskins finished 9-7 and won the NFC East. The least-injured teams were the Denver Broncos (91), Miami Dolphins (87) and Cincinnati Bengals (85). The Broncos and Bengals both qualified for the playoffs, but the Dolphins finished last in the AFC East with a 6-10 record.
The blog defines man-games lost as “the cumulative loss of players (primarily due to injury) for a sports team.” Nathan Currier, the founder and operator of the blog, regularly publishes charts that are based on the following lists that are released by all NFL teams: the weekly injury report (players listed as “out” for any given game), the injured reserve list, and the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
According to the biography on his blog, Currier lives in Montreal, Québec and holds a Ph.D in anatomy and cell biology from McGill University. He tracks man-games lost for all four major North American professional sports leagues. Currier’s data on the NFL goes back to 2009. Since that season, he calculates that the Patriots are the second-most injured team in the NFL with 1436 man-games lost. Only the Indianapolis Colts have more man-games lost with 1534. Despite the injuries, the Patriots have qualified for the playoffs every season dating back to 2009.
Hightower ready to return to action
One key New England player who missed several games due to injury is linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who is assigned to call the defensive signals whenever he’s on the field. He sat out four games due to three different injuries over the course of the season, and he also missed parts of three other games. He missed the regular season finale against Miami with a knee injury, but he has been at practice this week and is expected to start in New England’s Division Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16.
“I’m all right,” Hightower told the media on Friday. I’m just looking forward to getting back on the field. Last couple games I was not there, so I’m just looking forward to getting back out there. It’s tough [being on the sidelines]. To know how hard those guys are working out there. And being in the classroom with them and being on the practice field [but not] being out there on the playing field hurts and it’s tough. I just try to do what little I can to help those guys.”
Other players who missed the Miami game but are expected back for the playoffs include wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot), linebacker Jonathan Freeny (hand), defensive end Chandler Jones (abdomen/toe), and tackle Sebastian Vollmer (ankle).
Gregory Hunt is a Boston native and a life-long fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. He’s also particularly fond of lacrosse, IndyCar racing and women’s college basketball. He currently works for Examiner.com where he serves as the Senior Manager of Content and Media Access. He also writes for Examiner.com as the New England Patriots Examiner. His work can be found on aExaminer.com.