FOXBOROUGH — There were a number of stops in the red zone in which the Patriots defense can be proud of.
When the game was on the line and the Patriots had their backs to the wall, facing the old gunslinger Brett Favre himself, good things happened — for the Patriots, that is.
In the second quarter, as Adrian Peterson was piling up a large portion of his 92 yards, on the day, the Patriots made sure to stuff the heralded running back for a loss of two yards on the goal line on fourth down. Both linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes made their presence felt in the back field.
In the third quarter, as the Vikings drove 68 yards down the field to the Patriots’ 5-yard line, the defensive line provide just enough pressure to get Favre to overthrow Vikings receiver Greg Lewis as he raced across the back of the end zone.
And in the fourth quarter, when Favre was getting into a rhythym and the Vikings were driving down the field again, this time 77 yards to the 3-yard line, the Patriots defense did what Brad Childress couldn’t do — take the 41-year-old quarterback out of the game. Myron Pryor hit the Vikings quarterback as his helmet caught Favre under the chin strip, causing a laceration. He came out of the game immediately. Backup QB Tarvaris Jackson came in the game and immediately threw a touchdown to fullback Naufahu Tahi, but the message was already sent. The defense had come to play.
“Guys stepped up when we had to,” said LB Jerod Mayo of the goal line defense. “They had to make plays and keep our offense in striking distance. I think we did that and a had a good turnout.”
Said NT Vince Wilfork on the team’s fourth down stop in the first half: “We knew they like to run the all coming into the game, especially in the red area. With a back like (Adrian) Peterson, who wouldn’t want to run the ball? I think everybody was just tuned in on that play. We got the formation they love to run in. They got the blockers in they like to run behind. I think everybody was just alert. We took advantage of it. That’s something big for us. As a defense, that’s one of our goals — short yards and red area and goal line this year. SO to come up with a play like that on fourth and goal down there — basically they walked away with no points — that was big for us.
“I think so far this season,” Wilfork continued, “we’ve done a great job in short yardage and goal line areas.”
Mike Wright added a sack for a 10-yard loss for New England.