Tuesday, October 29, 2013

'Execution' key to Pats' third-quarter turnaround


Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have become infamous for their locker room adjustments midway through games the past decade or so. The problem this season has been turning those changes into points.

Going into Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, New England had managed only nine total points in third quarters of their first seven games, with Miami averaging four times more points in the third stanza.

The Pats proceeded to nearly double their running total in the third quarter Sunday and erase a 14-point lead in process, eventually tallying their sixth win in the 27-17 victory.

"I just think our overall execution was a lot better this time," Belichick told reporters after the game Sunday. "We made plays in all three phases and we didn’t do some of the things that we’ve done in the past, like get penalties and turn the ball over and give up big plays on defense and things like that. [We] eliminated some of those things and we had some success."

Defense may have been the biggest difference-maker Sunday for New England coming out at halftime, as the Patriots' forced three punts (two three-and-outs), recovered a fumble and forced Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis into a long field goal try, which he popped off the upright.

Much of that defensive success was tied to the play of defensive tackle Rob Ninkovich, who tallied a couple tackles and recovered the fumble.

"He’s a good all-around football player for us," Belichick said of his veteran defensive end after the game. "He does a lot of things well. I don’t think there’s any big weakness to his game. He just does a lot of things well for us and he has good versatility and that’s really valuable for your defense."

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