Patriots

Patriots defense gaining confidence in recent weeks

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Patriots defense gaining confidence in recent weeks

FOXBORO -- In the Patriots' last three games, they've allowed 19 points to the Jets, 16 points to the Dolphins, and 14 points to the Texans -- all wins.

With each week, the scores have dropped, and with each week the defense is gaining more self-assuredness. Vince Wilfork said on Thursday that the Patriots defense has been on a roll that has turned out to be a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy: The better the defense plays, the more fun it has, and the more fun it has, the better it plays.

"One thing I see is confidence," Wilfork said. "Guys playing and having fun. That's the one thing, when you play with confidence, you can have fun. When you play stuck up, it's not fun because you scared to make a mistake. You're not sure if you're doing the right things or not."

After Monday night's game, Wilfork credited cornerback Aqib Talib with bringing a certain swagger to the defense that may contribute to its playing more loosely.

"He's brought an attitude," Wilfork said. "He don't say much, he just practice his tail off. He fit right in with everybody else. He's a physical player. Big, strong, physical player. I don't know if he brought anything to the secondary or not, but I can tell you what he bring on the practice field and what he bring in the game. He's a special player, and I'm glad we got him."

As the defense has gelled as a unit in the last month since Talib's arrival, positions in the secondary have solidified as well -- Talib and Alfonzo Dennard man the corners, with Kyle Arrington in the slot, and Steve Gregory and Devin McCourty at the safety positions. Whether that has helped contribute to an air of confidence or not, Wilfork says that he hasn't seen teammates getting disappointed after allowing big plays during this recent stretch of success.

"Other teams, they get paid, too," he said. "They play good football, too. Every once in a while they make plays, and it's not the end of the world. I think the guys do a really good job of understanding that, not getting down on themselves, trying to go out and make another play. It's gonna be like that again this week."

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Wentz tosses 4 TDs, Eagles beat Redskins, 34-24

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Wentz tosses 4 TDs, Eagles beat Redskins, 34-24

PHILADELPHIA - Carson Wentz tossed four touchdown passes, and the Philadelphia Eagles overcame losing nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters in a 34-24 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday night.

Wentz threw for 268 yards and ran for a career-best 63 after a shaky start to lead the NFL-best Eagles (6-1) to their fifth straight win. But the victory was costly because Peters was carted off the field with a knee injury in the third quarter.

Kirk Cousins had 303 yards passing and three TDs for the Redskins (3-3).

The Eagles went three-and-out three times in their first four drives and had only 57 total yards before Wentz hit Mack Hollins in stride with a perfect 64-yard TD pass to tie it at 10.

That got the offense rolling.

Wentz connected with Zach Ertz for 46 yards on the next series and found him again for a 4-yard TD pass to make it 17-10.

After getting the second-half kickoff, the Eagles drove 86 yards for another touchdown. Peters was injured during the series, and fans chanted his name while teammates surrounded the cart.

Wentz finished the drive off with a play that Peters would appreciate.

While being hit by two defenders and falling forward, Wentz lofted a 9-yard TD pass to Corey Clement.

Wentz fired a 10-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor to expand the lead to 31-17. Wentz kept that drive alive by escaping a sack and running 17 yards on third-and-8.

Cousins tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Chris Thompson to give the Redskins a 10-3 lead. He connected with Jordan Reed on a 5-yard TD to cut the deficit to 24-17 and threw a 12-yard pass to Reed to cap the scoring.

The Eagles were penalized on four straight plays to start their first possession before Wentz was intercepted by Quinton Dunbar on a deep pass to Torrey Smith on second-and-31.

Philadelphia swept Washington for the first time since 2013 and has a commanding lead in the NFC East. The Cowboys and Redskins are tied for second place.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Are Patriots' defensive problems solved?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Are Patriots' defensive problems solved?

0:41 - Tom Giles, Michael Holley, and Tom Curran react to the Patriots’ 23-7 win over the Falcons on Sunday night and whether the Patriots deserve to be considered Super Bowl favorites.

6:09 - Is Johnson Bademosi an upgrade over Stephon Gilmore at cornerback for the Patriots? Michael Hurley joins BST to debate with Tom Curran, Michael Holley, and Kayce Smith. They also discuss the defense’s overall improvement in Sunday night’s win.

14:37 - NBC Sports Boston’s Red Sox insider Evan Drellich joins the show to talk about the Red Sox hiring Alex Cora to be their new manager, whether it was the right choice, and how his presence will affect the Red Sox clubhouse.

22:14 - Kayce Smith and Tom Curran discuss Kyrie Irving’s vulgar response to a Philadelphia fan yelling “Where’s LeBron?” at him on Friday night.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE