Patriots defense tied for AFC interceptions lead

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Coach Bill Belichick has raved all season about McCourty. On film, prior to the draft, Belichick was impressed with McCourty’s ability to analyze what he saw. So Belichick took him with the 27th pick.

“He’s really intelligent, works hard. You would think he’s a five-year veteran,” Sanders said. “He’s a real intelligent guy. He picks up a lot of subtle things on film.”

And he doesn’t care what opponents say about him. Before the win over the Jets, Holmes advised the Patriots not to have a rookie cover him.

“I wouldn’t do it if I was them,” he said.

After the rout, McCourty said, “He said something about me in the paper. I’m not worried about that. You have to come out and play.”

Another rookie, linebacker Brandon Spikes, also intercepted a pass by Sanchez after the Jets had moved all the way to the Patriots 9-yard line. Credit defensive line coach Pepper Johnson with an assist.

“Pepper throws balls at all of those guys every week, fires it in there and makes them catch the ball,” Belichick said. “It was kind of like the be-on-the-line drill that the linebackers do with Pepper every Friday. So, it was a nice catch.”

More hard passes will be coming their way. Cutler is known for his powerful arm and receivers Johnny Knox and Devin Hester are extremely fast.

“They have speed all around, Cutler, definitely,” Page said. “We’ve seen him outrun cornerbacks trying to get to the edge and making plays.”

If the Patriots can keep him in the pocket, they should have a better chance of adding to their interception total.

“We’d like to get as many as possible,” Sanders said. “As many as the offenses are willing to give us, we’ll take it.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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