BY NICK ST. DENIS
The New England Patriots' defense looked much-improved Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. Field position helped.
The Patriots' special teams unit, particularly the punt group, was successful in putting their defenders in situations where they weren't playing on their heels.
"The field position was exceptional," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told the media Tuesday via conference call. "They were always going 80 yards-plus to the goal line. Defensively you can’t ask for more than that – to be playing on a long field all day. It’s a team thing."
New England punter Zoltan Mesko punted four times. None of the boots were returned, three ended up inside the 20, one was fair caught and one resulted in a touchback.
"Our specialists did a good job and our kicking coverage units did a good job but also our offense did a good job of at times when we didn’t have good field position of being able to move the ball into the midfield area so when we did punt it, we were able to keep Tennessee on a long field," Belichick said.
The Patriots' offense never found itself pinned back near its own end zone when drives stalled, making things easier on the special teams group to reverse field position.
"It’s hard to have good field position when you’re punting from your 10-yard line, nobody can kick and cover it that far consistently but when you’re punting from midfield or in that area and you have a chance to get the ball up in the air and cover it and pin them up," Belichick said.
"Part of that is the offense putting the special teams in a position where they can create that field positions and then the other part of it is the special teams doing their job and maintaining the field position. That was a big factor in the game."
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