Defense, stand up.
With a 25-0 victory over the Falcons on Thursday night, the Patriots extended their winning streak to five games, and the defense has continued its tear. Over the last three games, the Patriots have only let up 13 points. With four sacks and then four interceptions on the final four Atlanta possessions of the game, there was a lot to be happy about defensively.
"I feel like we played great defensively. We allowed no touchdowns and no points allowed," J.C. Jackson said after the game. "I mean you can't get any better than that."
Devin McCourty got the fourth-quarter pick party started with his 30th career interception. Jackson was next up, living up to his nickname, "Mr. INT." Kyle Van Noy took a Josh Rosen throw to the end zone, and finally, Adrian Phillips picked off the Falcons' third quarterback of the game, Feleipe Franks, to seal the deal.
"It's fun to play a game like that. Those are kind of games you dream about as a kid," Van Noy said.
Not for nothing, it's fun to watch games like that, too. Take it from the Patriots players like James White, Jonathan Jones and Raekwon McMillan, who are injured, watching from home and tweeting every time a teammate made a huge play.
While those four guys came up with the picks, McCourty made it clear that it is a credit to the defense as a whole.
"I think that's been the story for us in the passing game. Interceptions have come from great pressure," he said. "Almost every interception we've had when you look back through it, somebody is hitting a quarterback. Somebody's causing pressure. I think that's how we need to play as a defense."
Despite the winning streak the Patriots are currently riding, this is a team that started out 2-4. There are significant challenges in the final leg of the season, including two games against AFC East foe, the Bills. Matthew Judon said that even though the defense is really figuring itself out in the latter half of the season, having a "2-4 mentality" will keep them from getting complacent.
"We're catching our stride. We had a lot of new pieces, a lot of pieces coming back, and now we're just in a rhythm," Judon said. "I think we're just all playing with a lot of confidence ... We didn't want to get off to a bad start, but right now, we're in a groove. We're going to continue to prepare and work like our backs are against the wall."
Though the defense was the story of Thursday, Damien Harris summed it up best. This Patriots team wants to see each other succeed. They are playing for each other. Patriots fans saw it when Jakobi Meyers scored his first career touchdown on Sunday, and they saw it again when Patriots players celebrated the defense's performance.
"I think it's very evident to [the media], to everybody that watches us play, how much we care about one another, how hard we play for each other. No guy goes out there and plays hard for themselves," Harris said. "Everybody's playing for each other. We're playing for this team."