|Andre Carter gives Patriots D something to jump about||10.17.11 at 10:15 am ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots defense has been much maligned all season for its inability to stop opposing offenses from marching up and down the field, and specifically for its inability to get to the opposing quarterback.
Defensive end Andre Carter was brought to New England in the offseason to do just that — get to the quarterback.
Playing a lot of right defensive end on Sunday, Carter kept the pressure on and it finally paid off in two quarterback sacks, with one potentially saving the Patriots four points, the difference in New England’s 20-16 win over the Cowboys.
With the Cowboys looking like they had finally rediscovered their offense on their first possession of the third quarter, Tony Romo had his team first-and-goal at the Patriots 7, with New England clinging to a 13-10 lead.
Following an incompletion, it was second-and-goal and Carter lined up opposite Cowboys right tackle Tyron Smith. Romo dropped back and Carter blew past Smith and made a beeline for Romo. Carter didn’t miss and dumped him for an 11-yard loss. Carter got up and performed his version of the sack dance — the “Quincy Jump,” named for his son.
“Yeah, a high long jump,” Carter said with his trademark bellowing laugh. “I don’t know what it was, it just kind of sprouted up. That’s my son, the ‘Quincy Jump.’ I don’t know how it happened, it just kind of happened, one of those things. Sacks are hard to come by, especially now that the league has changed so much. So the more you can get, the better.”
Thanks to Carter’s second sack of the game, the Cowboys watched second-and-goal at the 7 turn into third-and-goal at the 18. Romo settled for a 14-yard screen on the next play to Tashard Choice and a subsequent 22-yard field goal from Dan Bailey.
Instead of Dallas getting the go-ahead TD, Carter and the Patriots held the Cowboys to a field goal.
Those four points were the difference in the game. Reason enough for Carter and the Patriots D to celebrate.
But there’s something bigger at work here, bigger even than the ups that Carter showed on Sunday. The Patriots, even in their win in Miami, had been sharply criticized for allowing the opposition to go on drives of 70-plus yards, eating up clock and keep the ball out of Tom Brady‘s hands. The Patriots allowed a 93-yarder to Romo and the Cowboys on the final drive of the first half, the last possession before the Cowboys opened the third with a 77-yarder. The Patriots finally found a way to slow the other team down — and they did it through quarterback pressure.
“I think usually just those long drives,” Carter said. “The long drives have been a sometimes killer for us. It’s starting to show more in the second half, toward the end of the second half. And maybe a little bit toward the end of the third quarter. So that’s just something we’ve got to keep working on and continue to get better and we’ll be in the right direction.”
In addition to his two sacks on Sunday, Carter had four solo tackles, one assisted, two tackles for losses while hitting the quarterback twice. That’s the pressure the Patriots will need the rest of the season if they are to rise to the level they and their following are expecting come January.
“It felt great,” Carter added. “One thing that people don’t understand, especially when it comes to sacks — sacks and coverage, everything else, it just comes hand in hand. So it’s just something that we always talk about and discuss. It was just a blessing and I thank God and I just thank the 10 guys who were around to do their job. When the opportunity presented itself to make a play, we made a play.”
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