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Rob Ninkovich on M&M: Second-half turnaround ‘exactly what we wanted to do’

10.28.13 at 1:18 pm ET
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Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to discuss New England’s 27-17 comeback win over the Dolphins on Sunday.

Rob Ninkovich

Rob Ninkovich

The Patriots overcame a 17-3 first-half deficit and outscored Miami 24-0 in the second half. New England’s defense perplexed the Ryan Tannehill-led Dolphins attack, as the Patriots recorded six sacks, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal all in the second half.

“The first half was not the type of football we wanted to come out and play. We had a certain game plan that we wanted to go out there and execute, and we didn’t do it,” said Ninkovich, who had one of the sacks and the fumble recovery. “And the second half, it was a little different game, and I think we did a good job of doing exactly what we wanted to do.”

The youth portion of the defense excelled on Sunday. Second-year players Dont’a Hightower (10 tackles, one sack) and Alfonzo Dennard (nine tackles) were first and second on the team in tackles. Another second-year player, Logan Ryan, had a monster day, one week after recording a pick-six. Ryan made five tackles, sacked Tannehill twice and forced a fumble. Rookie defensive tackle Chris Jones made seven stops, with one sack, and a pair of tackles for loss.

Injuries to defensive mainstays Vince WilforkAqib Talib and Jerod Mayo have necessitated elevated play from a number of inexperienced defenders.

“I think the young guys did a great job,” Ninkovich said. “Chris Jones and Joe Vellano, I think they both played very well. … I’m happy how we’re playing, given that there’s been some ups and downs, and guys thrown into some positions that five, six weeks ago they weren’t in.”

Ninkovich’s fumble recovery came during Miami’s second series of the second half, with the Patriots trailing 17-10. Ryan sacked Tannehill on the second play of the drive and knocked the ball away from the quarterback. Ninkovich recovered the fumble at the 13-yard line and ran the ball into the end zone. However, the officials ruled Ninkovich down by contact.

“Anytime you’re in that situation, you just want to make them make the decision,” Ninkovich said. “Because if I had laid there and not been touched, it would have been like, ‘Man, I missed an opportunity to score.’ ”

Brandon Bolden capitalized on the turnover with a 2-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game at 17. New England came up with two more turnovers and a blocked punt, and Stevan Ridley punched in a touchdown run from three yards out to secure the win.

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib, Chris Jones, Dont'a Hightower Print  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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