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Patriots secondary rises to occasion, forces four Jets turnovers

09.13.13 at 2:31 am ET
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Alfonzo Dennard picks off a Geno Smith pass in the second half of Thursday's win. (AP)

Alfonzo Dennard picks off a Geno Smith pass in the second half of Thursday’s win. (AP)

FOXBORO — With the Patriots offense having one of its worst games since 2009, the defense needed to pick up the slack in the second game of the season. That is just what it did, forcing four turnovers in the Patriots’ 13-10 win over the Jets on a warm, humid and wet night at Gillette Stadium in the home opener.

The secondary in particular stepped up in the fourth quarter, intercepting Jets quarterback Geno Smith three times with the Jets threatening to tie or take the lead, including ending three of the final four Jets drives with picks.

“I thought we did a good job, especially out there on defense, coming up with huge turnovers, especially off a short week,” cornerback Kyle Arrington said. “But in the fourth quarter and a tight game on the line, it was terrific and we’re happy with the outcome.”

Leading the way was cornerback Aqib Talib, who was in on three of the four turnovers, including intercepting Smith twice in the fourth quarter, one with 48 seconds remaining in the game to clinch the win for the Patriots. The first one in the quarter came at the Patriots’ 27-yard line when the Jets were in a good position to either tie or take the lead, but following an Arrington tip, Talib was able to haul it in, abruptly ending the scoring threat. Talib also forced a fumble of Jets receiver Stephen Hill to give the Patriots the ball at the Jets’ 11-yard line setting up a field goal in the opening quarter.

“Yeah, and that’s big,” safety Devin McCourty said when asked about the defense’s ability to make timely plays. “We’ve made winning plays, and we have to continue to do that. When we went out on the field for the last drive, all we kept saying was, it didn’t matter what we had done throughout the game, it was all about getting one last stop. Aqib [Talib] made a great play to finish the game off, so we just have to keep stepping up each week.”

Cornerback Alfonso Dennard also had an interception in the fourth quarter. It was the most turnovers forced in a game for the Patriots since last Thanksgiving when they took the ball away from the same Jets five times.

For the Patriots it was their 29th straight regular-season game causing a turnover, dating back to 2011. The last time the defense failed to cause a turnover was Oct. 9, 2011, against the Jets.

“Yeah, it’s always good to turn the ball over,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “Again, I thought we competed well as a football team. Everything we did wasn’t perfect that’s for sure. But we played hard, we fought hard, we made them earn everything they got. They made us earn everything. It was just one of those games. I thought the team really competed well for 60 minutes. I’m proud of them for that. They did a good job there.”

The front seven also played a role in forcing the turnovers, as they were able to put pressure on Smith, sacking him four times, forcing poor throws and him into making bad decisions. For the defense to continue to have success, it’s a matter of the whole unit staying consistent, not just individually the secondary or the front seven.

“It’s big, we have to do our part,” McCourty said. “Up front they did their part, so it was just a total defensive effort.”

Read More: Alfonso Dennard, Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty
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