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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.

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.

‘€œThe 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. ‘€œAnd 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.

‘€œI think the young guys did a great job,’€ Ninkovich said. ‘€œChris 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.

‘€œAnytime you’€™re in that situation, you just want to make them make the decision,’€ Ninkovich said. ‘€œBecause 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
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