Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO -- The play stood out to Devin McCourty not just because it was arguably the most important play of the game. No, Lawrence Guy's strip of Aaron Jones on the first play of the fourth quarter stood out to McCourty in part because of the effort it required.

"Guy running down field creating a strip play," McCourty said. "It wasn't behind the line of scrimmage. That type of stuff, we have to continue to do."

Guy is someone who, despite being 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, often gets forgotten in the middle of the Patriots defense. He's been the team's most consistent run defender week after week in 2018. He's the No. 3 run defender among interior defensive linemen, according to Pro Football Focus. 

But stops for two yards or less in the running game often hit the cutting room floor when highlight packages are assembled. 

Guy's good work may rarely get noticed, but when he chased Jones from behind and punched the ball loose for Stephon Gilmore to recover, he made a play that grabbed everyone in Gillette Stadium and all those watching Sunday Night Football on NBC.

Not that he cared about that part of it. 

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"I go out there and play for my brothers on the field," Guy said. "That's one thing: I play for them, play for my family, play for myself. It really doesn't concern me, all the hype. As long as my brothers next to me know I'm playing as hard as I can, and I'm leaving my heart out there, that's all I care for. That's how we play as a defense. We're not a selfish defense. We're a defense that wants to work together and have fun together. That's the mentality we have."

 

That's why, Guy said, he was chasing Jones down in the first place. Despite doing most of his work within two or three yards of the line of scrimmage, Jones had himself a good gain before Guy went horizontal to dive and get his paws on the football. 

That's what stood out to McCourty. 

"That's one thing that we challenge ourselves on and we practice on," Guy said. "We make sure that we continue to go after the ball and continue to rush down the field. There's not a down that we can just take off. Especially when you're down in the trenches. You're hitting somebody every single down. You want to make sure you go hit someone with the ball. 

"You give everything you can and make that effort because you never know when they might cut it back. You never know when they might just stop and get a push or get a good hit on them. We practice it. We make sure we pursue to the ball. We make sure we gang tackle . . . We're going to go out there together and play together and we're going to tackle as a team also."

The play came at a critical time in the game because Aaron Rodgers had just finished the third quarter with a pair of on-the-money throws for 50 yards combined. He seemed to be heating up with the score tired, 17-17. 

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"Let's be honest, plays like that are going to happen," Guy said. "We know they're going to happen. It's a good offense, there's good wide receivers and it's a good quarterback. We knew plays like that were going to happen. 

"It's not seeing the plays happen, it's how do you react after the plays happen? That's the best thing we can do. When he does make those plays, try to come back and make a bigger play."

On Sunday night, in front of the football-watching world, the guy who typically toils unnoticed did just that.

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