Patriots defense unfazed by high-flying Falcons

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 31, 2017 7:42 PM

By Larry Fine

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Something has got to give on Super Bowl Sunday when the National Football League's top-scoring Atlanta Falcons face a New England Patriots defense that allowed the fewest points in the league.

The Patriots would lose in the glamor department, but count on their know-how and synchronicity to get the job done in U.S. sport's biggest event.

"There's not a lot of flash to us," said linebacker Dont'a Hightower. "We're a very competitive team. What we do is make it hard for the other team to score, and we do a great job of that."

"The biggest thing for us is that we kind of gelled together. That chemistry, that brotherhood and accountability really grew and took off.

"We're not just a good football team, we're a smart football team."

Safety Devin McCourty said the Pats' defense built momentum as the season progressed.

“We got off to a slow start, but you do not want to peak during Week 1 or Week 5. You want to peak towards the end of the season," said McCourty.

"We just play as a team. That is what it is all about, playing as a team. The numbers show it.”

In the seven prior instances where the NFL's top offense faced the stingiest defense in the Super Bowl the defense has prevailed six times.

While Atlanta averaged nearly 40 points a game, New England allowed less than 17 points a game on average, getting extra stingy once opponents closed in on the end zone.

"That chemistry we built, we're able to know where guys are going to be," said Hightower. "We're able to just kind of look at each other and just know, 'Hey bro, I'm rushing. 'Hey, I'm dropping.'"

Hightower also said having the luxury of practicing against prolific passer Tom Brady helped their cause.

"We feel that we go against one of the best if not the best offense every day in practice with Tom and that outstanding pass team that we have," said Hightower. "It's good we get that test every day."

McCourty said the defensive secondary had the same knack of knowing how their colleagues would react.

"It starts with us hanging out in the locker room, us hanging out off the field, going to dinners together, building that bond and that trust it takes to play together," said McCourty.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)