Guyton takes away plenty in win
CHICAGO — One thing that can’t be taken away from the Patriots’ defense is its ability to cause turnovers.
In a game complicated by swirling snow and wind gusts up to 53 miles per hour, the Patriots made yesterday’s contest miserable for the Bears in their own stadium. New England snagged two interceptions and recovered a pair of fumbles in a 36-7 victory at Soldier Field.
Right in the middle of the turnover frenzy was linebacker Gary Guyton, who returned a fumble for a touchdown and collected an interception. Guyton returned the fumble, forced by cornerback Devin McCourty, 35 yards for 6 points in the second quarter, helping the visitors to a 21-0 lead. Guyton’s interception came in the third quarter when he stepped in front of intended target Matt Forte and gave the Patriots the ball on their 29-yard line.
“It felt really good to come in and they asked me to step up and make some plays and I was happy to do that,’’ Guyton said.
Guyton, who has been in the rotation throughout the season, held even more responsibility yesterday with rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes missing the first game of his four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
“What [Spikes] is going through, that’s his own thing, but we try to be here as teammates and as a friend to him,’’ Guyton said.
Without Spikes, Guyton knew his workload would increase. Guyton arrived in New England as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech in 2008. While Guyton watched his playing time decrease this season, he has worked his way back into the lineup and made impact plays yesterday.
Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo isn’t surprised by Guyton’s success.
“Gary’s just that utility guy who can do it all and any time the coaches call on him, he steps up and makes great plays,’’ Mayo said.
Bill Belichick had similar praise.
“Gary did a great job for us,’’ Belichick said. “He has played well for three years and he does a lot of things for us. It’s always good to have him in the game. He makes a lot of plays, and he has all year.’’
Along with Guyton’s interception and fumble recovery, Mayo recovered a fumble forced by Eric Moore, and safety Brandon Meriweather grabbed an interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter. The plays prevented Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler from finding any rhythm. Cutler completed 12 of 26 passes for 152 yards and was sacked twice. The running game also was stifled with 47 yards on 14 carries.
“We’re growing,’’ safety James Sanders said. “We have a young team, but we’re growing week to week and right now it feels like we’re putting it all together. This is the time of year you want to be playing your best football and hopefully, these last couple of weeks, that’s what we’ve been doing.
“Hopefully, we continue to grow and continue to get better.’’
The Patriots entered yesterday’s game with 23 takeaways that have resulted in 95 points. When the defense gives the offense the ball, the Patriots make the most of it. The offense scored 17 times after a turnover before yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Patriots went another game without giving up the ball.
“Whoever wins the turnover battle has a pretty good chance to win the game,’’ Mayo said. “We’ve given up a lot of yards along the way, but the turnovers have kept us in the games.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.