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Dave D'Onofrio's Patriots Notebook: Patriots' defense stands up
In each of the first two weeks, New England has faced a team that starts a rookie quarterback, that is integrating a new offensive coordinator and that is generally not expected to be very good this season. All three are legitimate considerations when looking at what the Pats have really achieved thus far on that side of the football.
The winning plays Thursday were three fourth-quarter interceptions of rookie Geno Smith, two of which were caught by cornerback Aqib Talib, who also forced a fumble in the first quarter. Through two games the Pats have prompted six turnovers, suggesting what's typically the unit's greatest strength is again among its traits.
"Over the years our offense has bailed us out so many times," linebacker Jerod Mayo said Thursday. "It's good to get a win like this."
As the Patriots' level of competition stiffens, and the caliber of quarterback they're up against improves, it will be interesting to watch how the Patriots use their personnel - particularly considering that even against Smith and Bills' E.J. Manuel the club has relied heavily on the nickel defensive set.
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On three of the Patriots' 11 punts Thursday, the Jets opted to not have anyone deep to return the kick. Rex Ryan explained after that each time he was looking to try and block the punt, partially thinking the wet weather and the inexperience of Pats' rookie punter Ryan Allen might create an opportunity - but also partially in deference to the tremendous coverage ability of New England special teams ace Matthew Slater.
"We weren't getting a whole lot in the return game," Ryan said. "That Slater kid is a heck of a football player, and so I was like, 'Hey, might as well go for it.'"
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