It would have been easy for the Patriots to curl up into a ball and hide when the Ravens were threatening to go up 24-10 in the fourth quarter Sunday.
But the Pats’ relatively young defense has been growing up in front of our eyes this season. And it took a big step forward this weekend, holding Baltimore to just a field goal during New England’s climactic rally.
A performance like that can give the team’s youngsters the confidence they need to succeed on the NFL’s big stage.
“Mental toughness hasn’t particularly been our strong suit in recent games and everything, but I think this team is trying to separate ourselves from last year’s team,” cornerback Kyle Arrington said. “You know, different players. You’re trying to have a different mentality.
“Mental toughness is definitely one of the goals that Alge [Crumpler] has been preaching a lot, and our leaders have been preaching. I think it paid dividends yesterday.”
Arrington wasn’t the only one signing Crumpler’s praises yesterday. His stats?(one catch, four yards) are far from impressive, but he’s the team’s newest captain for what he offers off the field.
“He’s very professional,” coach Bill Belichick said. “I mean, Alge is very smart. He’s into football. He works at it. He has a great presence.
“I guess the best way I could put it is it seems like he always does the right thing, no matter what the situation is.”
Crumpler’s veteran leadership and attitude appears to be rubbing off.
“We have a core group of guys that are optimistic that, regardless of what the situations are, regardless of what happened last year, we can continue to play together and stay together and win ball games,” Crumpler said after Sunday’s win.