Are Rivera and Del Rio being misled by a statistic?

Their DBs seem to be playing in soft zones almost full-time. This is characteristic of a "bend-but-don't-break" defense which can be justified only when holding a two-score lead.

Nearly all NFL statistics are deceptive. The "points against stat" used to rank defenses is an example. A team can lower that statistic by playing a "bend-but-don't break" defensive strategy regardless of the score or the opponent since defending deep isn't a problem 30 yards from your own end zone.

Although the points against stat is lowered, it's not a winning strategy because it allows the opponent to play ball control which keeps your own offense off the field. In the Zorn era, Greg Blache had a fourth-ranked defense playing bend-but-don't break which allowed the opponent to play ball control and keep Zorn's offense off the field.

The third-down efficiency defensive statistic is meaningless without context. Belichick's Patriots' built a lead with a pass-and-run ball control offense and then played bend but don't break defense to hold the lead. The Patriot's third-down stat looked bad as a result.

The bottom line: Bend-but-don't break is a good strategy for holding onto a two-score lead. Used full-time, it will give a defense a higher ranking than it deserves while doing nothing to help the offense win games.