FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ defense has rounded into form following a less-than-stellar start to the 2018 season.
After struggling in early-season losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions and turning in uneven efforts in wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts, the Patriots have impressed defensively in each of their last two games.
They held the offensively anemic Buffalo Bills to two field goals in a 25-6 road victory in Week 8, then bottled up Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in a 31-17 win last Sunday night. New England forced three turnovers in those two games — including a game-sealing pick-six against Buffalo — and limited Green Bay just 21 total yards in the fourth quarter of the latter.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday in the Patriots’ locker room, linebacker Kyle Van Noy had a simple explanation for his team’s strong defensive play of late.
“It’s just guys knowing what to do and playing fast,” Van Noy said. “You’re working through some kinks at the beginning of the season, but it’s go time. The season’s ticking down, and we know what time it is.”
Through nine weeks, the Patriots rank 11th in the NFL in scoring defense (22.4 points allowed per game) and 13th in defensive DVOA. This week, they’ll face a Tennessee Titans team that’s averaging just 16.8 points per game this season — tied for third-worst in the NFL.
“We’re hungry,” Van Noy said. “We’re hungry to get back on the field and keep proving people wrong.”
Van Noy tallied two sacks, including a strip sack, in the win over the Bills. One week earlier, he returned a blocked punt for a touchdown in a victory over the Chicago Bears.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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