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Sports

November 21, 2012

Talib, Pats secondary seek consistency, stability

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots’ pass defense has been very consistent.

It’s one of the worst in the NFL for the third straight year.

But now the secondary is striving to develop a different kind of consistency — a better kind. And, with the shuffling of starters apparently at its conclusion, it appears that the Patriots are headed that way.

“The more you play, the more you mesh,” cornerback Aqib Talib said Tuesday. “The more time you get together, it definitely helps.”

Talib is the newest, and possibly final, piece of a puzzle that finally seems to be fitting well after 10 games in which New England has allowed the third most yards passing in the NFL. That’s an improvement over last season, when the Patriots gave up the second most. And in 2010, they permitted the third most.

Not that big a deal, safety Steve Gregory said.

It didn’t keep the Patriots from reaching the Super Bowl last season, losing 21-17 to the New York Giants on a last-minute touchdown. And it hasn’t stopped them this season from leading the AFC East by three games with a 7-3 record heading into Thursday night’s visit to the New York Jets.

“Figures lie,” Gregory said after the Patriots allowed 329 yards passing but routed the Indianapolis Colts 59-24 on Sunday.

“We don’t pay attention to too many stats. We just focus in on playing good, hard-nosed football and winning football games. At the end of the day, when that clock strikes zero, if we’re on the winning edge, we’re happy.”

Against the Colts, they capitalized on two overthrown passes by Andrew Luck and returned both for touchdowns — 87 yards by rookie Alonzo Dennard and 59 yards by Talib.

“You talk about going out and trying to stop an offense and getting turnovers and all those good things,” Devin McCourty said, “but when you score points, that really lifts your team up.”

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