He forced a more critical fumble when Denver had a second-and-10 at the New England 14 yard-line with 3:48 left and the score 31-21. McGahee got the ball on a draw play and Ninkovich jarred the ball out again.
“He’s been playing well all year,” middle linebacker Jerod Mayo said, “even though those big plays just started showing up.”
Ninkovich played end in college at Purdue, but his role in the Patriots system is much different.
He’s playing better now that he’s focusing on defeating his blocker and going after the player with the ball.
“Defensive end is a position where everything happens pretty fast,” Ninkovich said. “I’ve been able to change a couple of style techniques in my game.”
And if he’s ever needed at another position, he should be prepared.
“In a Bill Belichick defense, you never know what position you may be in,” Wilfork said, “so it’s good to know multiple positions, and Ninkovich is one of the guys that moves around a lot, from linebacker to sometimes inside, sometimes end, but he does a very good job of knowing his role. Any given Sunday, Bill may say, ‘we want to move you here.’
“You’ve got to be ready for it and he’s answered the challenge every week.”