ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Fickle New England Patriots fans and pundits were ready to give up on safety Devin McCourty two short weeks ago.
After giving up four touchdowns in two weeks against the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs in man coverage, he had “lost a step” in their eyes.
“Oh, he did?” linebacker Kyle Van Noy asked Monday night after the Patriots toppled the Bills 25-6 in Buffalo. “Who said that?”
“OK, I was about to say you’re an idiot,” Van Noy said.
“You see those high knees?” Van Noy asked. “He had perfect form. I mean, what a ballplayer he is. I think a lot of people don’t understand what he does for a team, his leadership on and off the field. And just as a player, his being able to do so much and take on so much volume that’s thrown at him is pretty insane. To be able to have a player like that and a leader like that, I’m humbled to play with him. I hope he gets that (Patriots Hall of Fame) red coat. I call him Red Coat all the time. He deserves it.”
McCourty has now put together two stellar performances in a row. He let up two catches for 18 yards with the interception Monday night. Last week, he was targeted just once and didn’t allow a catch.
“I guess I gained a step back tonight,” McCourty said. “That was just cool because once I got back to the sideline, all the guys were all over it, telling me about it. I’m not really worried about me losing a step, just go out there and play. Today I got to showcase a little bit of the speed. So, 31, hopefully, I can hold on to my speed a little bit longer.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said McCourty “looked fast to me” and that “Devin can run.”
Safety Duron Harmon was a bit more expansive.
“As soon as something doesn’t go perfect up here, then people are always going to say, ‘Oh, he lost a step. He’s slow,'” Harmon said. “People who said Dev has lost a step obviously haven’t really been watching the tape. Each and every week, he’s running down somebody, and he’s usually looking like the fastest man on the field. So, they can take that.”
McCourty’s twin, Jason, is convinced he was running even faster than 22.05 mph as he sprinted to celebrate with his brother.
“I want to see what they got my time because I was chasing him to celebrate so I might have been 22-point-something,” Jason McCourty said. “I want to get our strength coach Moses (Cabrera) and find out what I was running on that.”
Devin engaged in the friendly banter between brothers.
“I highly doubt it,” he said. “We’ll check. Moses will have that for us tomorrow.”
Then Jason got serious.
“If I wasn’t behind him, then I might have beat him into the end zone, but man, that was a huge play,” he said. “At that point in the game, to get a pick and then to take it a distance, I think that’s what we rely on him for. Obviously, some of the games, giving up some plays then he’s just been steady. Continuing to be a leader, hasn’t flinched, hasn’t got down on himself. Just continued to work, continued to push everybody, so for him to make that play obviously I’m excited for him, but the whole team, that’s what we expect out of him in the game like that in prime time, so that was a huge, I think, dagger for them.”
After Devin scored, he made Jason take his spot on the kickoff team. Harmon said that was Devin throwing his weight around as the older brother (by 27 minutes).