Kyle Arrington and the Patriots secondary earning a passing grade
|11.22.11 at 1:47 am ET|
FOXBORO — No segment of the Patriots defense – or team for that matter – has taken more heat than the secondary.
On Monday night at Gillette, Kyle Arrington continued a recent trend of firing back at the critics with two more interceptions in New England’s 34-3 romp over the hapless and hopeless Kansas City Chiefs.
Arrington’s two interceptions give him seven for the season and that is tops in the entire NFL.
The haters will say that’s because opponents are constantly throwing on the Pats because everyone can see that’s their weakness.
But still, the plays have to made and on Monday night, Arrington, with the help of Sterling Moore and Rob Ninkovich did exactly that.
With Chiefs driving down to the Patriots 34 after three consecutive completions by Tyler Palko, Ninkovich came in on a blindside blitz. Palko not only didn’t see him, he acted as if he couldn’t even feel him as the Patriots linebacker was breathing down his neck.
Palko got hit just as he released the ball. The ball was intended for Steve Breaston but Sterling Moore came over and hit the Chiefs receiver as hard as he hit Devin McCourty in the second quarter of the Jets game. The ball was jarred loose and fell into the hands of the attentive and opportunistic Arrington.
“It’s just being around the ball,” said Arrington, who added his second of the game on Kansas City’s second possession of the third quarter. “We try to be a very opportunistic defense. Plays like that present themselves, you just have to capitalize on them.”
Both of Arrington’s interceptions came as KC was driving in Patriots territory. The NFL lead in picks is great but there’s something that would make it even sweeter.
“If I can get into the end zone one of these times, that’d be good, too,” he said with a smile.
Bill Belichick has always made that a priority, going all the way back to the days of Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy. Make the interception and then take it to the house. Still, Belichick has to be pleased with what’s he’s seen from a secondary that had given up the most passing yards in the NFL heading into November. Two interceptions from Arrington and Phillip Adams with his first career interception.
“It looked like two of them were on tipped balls,” Belichick said. “Kyle has been very opportunistic this year being around the ball a lot. When you’re around it and close to it, those are the kind of plays you make. And then it looked like it was a throw there into coverage that Phil got. I thought that Kyle and our safeties there ‘ it looked like Sterling got a good hit on that first slim post route and batted it up in the air. Look, the more times you have guys around the ball, the better your chances are coming up with it, so we’re just trying to get close.”
Arrington has taken up the slack with McCourty out with a right shoulder injury. Arrington spoke after the game like the leader of secondary he’s suddenly become.
“We’re not satisfied but we like the direction we’re going,” Arrington said. “We just keep preparing, stay focused and come out just play for each other and hard for 60 minutes, we’ll be in good shape down the road.”
When Arrington went out of the game briefly in the fourth quarter, the Patriots had a secondary of Phillip Adams and Antwuan Molden and safties James Ihedigbo and Sterling Moore, with Ross Ventrone and Julian Edelman subbing in. Not exactly what the Patriots envisioned in August.
“With everybody getting more experience now, then when Devin comes back, we will have just have that much more depth and that will speak a lot for us,” Arrington said.
“I’m excited,” added Ninkovich. “The more plays everyone is making, it’s just like playing backyard football. We’re all having fun, flying around. So, the more fun you have, the more success you have.”
If he’s looking for affirmation of that belief, all Ninkovich has to do is ask Arrington and Arrington will no doubt be happy to oblige.