January 6, 2013

Patriots won't be caught defenseless

Bolstered by the acquisition of cornerback Aqib Talib, New England's secondary gets sounder by the game.

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Aqib Talib
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Aqib Talib, acquired in a midseason deal with Tampa Bay, has figured in an improving pass defense.

The Associated Press

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Devin McCourty, formerly a cornerback, was moved to safety following Aqib Talib’s arrival, and the veteran led the team with five interceptions during the regular season.

The Associated Press

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It didn't always look that way, but the results were better. McCourty, who finished with a team-high five interceptions, said it was really a matter of coming together.

"It was something we knew we had to keep working on," he said. "We would have a game where we'd play well, and then we'd have a game where we didn't. We understood it was a long season and we had to keep working at it.

"And now we're at the point where it's all about consistency. We know we can do it, it's just a matter of going out there and doing it."

Talib, who will be making his first postseason appearance, said the defense might have gotten a bad rap.

"In this secondary, you're going to get a lot of balls thrown on you," he said. "Tom and those guys are scoring about 50 points a game so teams are always trying to come back. As a secondary, you're going to get a lot of balls thrown at you. That's not an excuse or anything."

Hoomanawanui could see just how hard everyone on defense was working.

"I think maybe it goes back to having some new faces back there, and working each and every day about getting that camaraderie down," he said. "You could see it getting better every day."

Belichick hesitates to single out any one unit in the defense for its improvement.

"Defense is team defense," he said. "Part of it is coaching and scheme, and putting the players in the best chance they have to be successful. It's pass defense, it's pass rush, it's run defense to create longer yardage situations, it's pressure coverage, it's a little bit of everything.

"I think when you look at all the plays in whatever situation you want to look at, whether it's defending long passes, red area, third down, fringe plays, whatever they happen to be, that you'll find that there are a lot of different it's not one thing, it's not all one guy or one play or one call or one anything. It's a combination of a lot of things. I would say quite a few of them are better than what they were so that's good."

And now they have to get even better.

As rookie defensive end Chandler Jones said last week, "This time of season, if you're still playing, then you're a pretty good team."

And that's why there's no rest this week, even though the team has a playoff bye.

"We've got to keep moving forward," said Jones. "There's very little time to rest. You've got to continue to get stronger and tougher as a team, and sharpen everything up.

"You've got to take it as if it's the last game of season. Because it could be."

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

mlowe@pressherald.com

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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