November 21, 2012

Patriots' defense has hope

New England is showing signs of stabilizing on pass defense, which has had its share of problems for three seasons.

By Howard Ulman / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

COMING SOON

WHO: Patriots (7-3) at N.Y. Jets (4-6)

WHEN: 8:25 p.m. Thursday

TELEVISION: NBC

Gregory expects the secondary to get better as Talib gets more experience in it.

"It was good to get out there with him, get the communication things going on with him, understand how he plays in a game atmosphere," Gregory said.

"Practice is one thing, but when you get out there in live action you kind of get a feel for each other. So that was a great experience for us."

The Patriots have allowed 47 completions of more than 20 yards this season, nearly five per game. Seventeen came in their three losses And they lost to Baltimore 31-30 on Justin Tucker's 27-yard field goal on the last play after a 27-yard pass interference call against McCourty gave the Ravens new life.

But two weeks ago, McCourty made the big play in the final minute. He intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick's pass in the end zone with 23 seconds left when receiver T.J. Graham ran to the wrong spot, allowing the Patriots to hang on for a 37-31 victory against Buffalo.

"If the offense doesn't score," McCourty said, "and the (opponent) comes back out and they're trying to punch another one in, that's the time when someone really has to step up."

A week later, Talib did that with his interception for a touchdown. That gave the Patriots the lead for good, 21-14, and they outscored the Colts 38-10 the rest of the way.

It was the start of something big on defense.

In that game and, perhaps, for the rest of the season.

"There's a lot of, hopefully, room for growth and more consistency and better execution on all levels," Belichick said. "When you add a new player in there, hopefully that will get better."

 

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