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Bill Belichick: Aqib Talib has ‘stepped up in every game’

09.30.13 at 12:21 am ET
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There is no cornerback in the NFL playing better than Aqib Talib. He is the shutdown corner the Patriots have been searching for since Ty Law.

And the move in March to re-sign him to a one-year, $4.86 million contract certainly is paying huge dividends for the Patriots right now.

The 27-year-old broke up a Matt Ryan pass to Roddy White in the end zone with his left hand at the last moment to preserve New England’s 30-23 win over the Falcons on Sunday night. The play with 40 seconds left on fourth-and-7 from the New England 10 was the icing on the cake of one of the most dominant performances by a Patriots cornerback in recent history.

“Coach [Matt Patricia] dialed it up,” Talib said. “I was on Roddy. He just ran a straight over route, a crossing route [from] Matt Ryan, and I just had to get to it to break it up.”

The national television audience got to see what everyone in New England will attest to right now: No one is playing better cornerback in the NFL right now than Talib. Not Richard Sherman, not Darrelle Revis. No one is making bigger plays with the spotlight on him than the defensive back around which the Patriots have built their secondary.

“They did some pushing and we did some pulling and we came out with the victory,” Talib said. “We just switched it up on them. Sometimes we doubled them, sometimes we singled covered them, we just tried to do a good job of switching it up on them and kept them off balance a little bit.

“Being up 17 and letting them come back and having to stop them on the last play, you can always grow on that. Definitely feels good. You’ve got the whole league watching, the whole world watching. Everybody picked us to lose. It don’t get no better than that.”

What made it more impressive is that Talib was asked to contain superstar Julio Jones for most of the night and White at other key moments in the second half, like the game-saving pass attempt in the end zone at the end. With the Patriots up 27-13, a frustrated Ryan heaved it up deep down the right sideline for Jones, and Talib sealed off Jones from the ball and recorded his NFL-leading fourth interception.

“Matt Ryan threw it up and got my head around quick and tried to go get it,” Talib said.

He’s not only picking off passes, he drawing the top receiver on the other team.

“Aqib has played great for us all year, all the way back to the spring training camp,” Bill Belichick said. “He’s stepped up in every game and played well, played the ball well and played against good receivers. He’s tackled well. He’s done a good job for us.”

The Patriots had four passes defended Sunday night. Talib accounted for all four, with the breakup of the pass for White in the end zone counting as the most important.

“I thought we competed well with their receivers. In the end, they made a few big plays, a few plays in the fourth quarter,” Belichick said. “We had a lot of trouble with their tight end and their back in the first half. We didn’t do a good job on that. We tightened that up a little bit and their receivers made some plays, but that’s a good skill team over there. Good receivers, good tight ends, good receivers, good quarterback, so it’s hard to get them all stopped, but I thought our guys competed hard against them. In the end, we made enough plays.”

Read More: Aqib Talib, Atlanta Falcons, Julio Jones, New England Patriots
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