Don't tell Bill Belichick that ball-security is something that only running backs, receivers and tight ends have to worry about.
In his Patriots.com breakdown of some of the top plays from his team's win over the Jets last weekend, Belichick pointed out that one of the key plays of the game hinged on defensive end Trey Flowers holding onto the football.
The play began with good, physical coverage in the secondary, which helped lead to Chris Long's game-changing strip-sack. Then came Flowers' big moment.
"[Long] powers into [left tackle Ben Ijalana] and then works to the edge. One of the things that helps us here is jamming the receivers initially at the line of scrimmage," Belichick explained. "That just -- if you watch [Ryan] Fitzpatrick -- just forces him to hang onto the the ball just for that second clutch, and that's where Chris gets him and Trey makes the fumble recovery."
Belichick added: "Trey does a good job of securing it . . . We've talked about ball-security and taking care of the ball. You don't think you're going to be talking about that with a defensive lineman, but it ended up being one of the most important plays of the game."
Belichick also highlighted a pair of offensive plays late in the game.
The first was Malcolm Mitchell's go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Patriots deployed Mitchell and Julian Edelman on the same side of the formation. With the Jets in man-to-man coverage, Tom Brady's receivers could have crossed and used a pick or "rub" action. Instead, with both Jets defenders playing inside leverage, both receivers broke outside.
"One of the things they could do, if they combo this, we could go one in, one out, and run right into 'em," Belichick said. "If we send both guys in the same direction, then it makes it a little bit tougher for them to cover, unless they happen to have that leverage. In this case, they were both inside, and we ran both players outside."
Belichick also gave credit to Cam Fleming -- often subbing in at tight end with Rob Gronkowski out -- as well as pulling right guard Shaq Mason and fullback James Develin as those three helped pave the way for LeGarrette Blount's game-sealing run. The 23-yard scamper allowed the Patriots to drain the clock and pick up their second straight win on the road.