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January 6, 2013

New Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib may have saved a great Patriots team from an early dismissal

New Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib may have saved a great Patriots team from an early dismissal

(Continued)

Talib was not here the first 12 weeks when the Patriots pass defense looked more Bad New Bears reruns than paradise. ]

The Patriots led the NFL in allowing 42 completions over 20 yards, more than any they’ve allowed an entire season under Bill Belichick.

He was not there when the pass defense allowed identical long touchdown passes to Seattle (a 46-yarder to Sidney Rice, which beat the Patriots with 1:18 remaining, and to St. Louis, which scored (a 50-yarder to Chris Givens) on its first possession on the same exact play two weeks later.

While the Patriots won the game over the Rams, 45-7, he apparently had seen enough. Five days later, Belichick and the Patriots announced the deal for Talib.

Over the last five games, the Patriots have played better on defense, particularly against the pass. Through 11 games, the Patriots allowed 293 yard passing per game. With Talib in place and understanding the defense, over the last five games the team allowed only 221 yards per game, and that includes a misleading 343-yard day from Jacksonville’s Chad Henne, who also threw three interceptions.

Over that same span, the Patriots run defense allowed only 93 yards per game, and that includes a 180-yard whopper against the 49ers, which would rank the Patriots fourth overall.

Which brings us back to Talib.

To call his addition a stabilizing force would be an understatement.

”I love him. Everybody here loves him,” said Patriots safety Patrick Chung. “He has fit in really well. He has a lot of confidence. He can cover. He can tackle. I couldn’t say enough good things about Aqib. He’s the real deal.”

Apparently, the feelings are more than mutual.

”As soon as you walk in the building you notice it,” said Talib. “It’s all about team here. Everybody is a professional. I have never experienced anything like this. I see the owner, Mr. (Robert) Kraft every day. That’s amazing, man. Coach Belichick treats everybody like a man, with respect. He’s a cool guy.”

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