A game’s worth of defensive pressure aided the Patriots in Thursday’s fourth-quarter smackdown of quarterback Geno Smith and the Jets.

Of course Smith’s three interceptions could be chalked up as self-inflicted wounds but as always more goes into it than a simple poor throw. There were actually three other passes in the final quarter that were batted by the defense so the Patriots’ ability to eventually finish the job seemed like a foregone conclusion.

In all the Pats forced four turnovers in their 13-10 victory and Rob Ninkovich also forced a fumble that the Jets recovered. The Patriots generated consistent pressure on Smith and mistakes followed at the most crucial time of the game.

As a result Bill Belichick’s Pats improved to 18-0 when amassing at least four takeaways against zero giveaways. However their margin of victory in the previous 17 games was 22.8 points and this was only the third time in those 18 games when they won by less than 10 points.

The lesson? The offense badly needed the defense to excel and that side of the ball believes it can do it more often this season whether or not Tom Brady and Co. need it to lock up another game.

“I’m very proud” cornerback Alfonzo Dennard said. “That’s the thing that coach always tells us about go out there try to pick the ball off try to cause fumbles and just get turnovers. That’s what we did.”
The interceptions by themselves were all different though not absent of the common denominator of pressure and confusion. On the first pick Chandler Jones created pressure off the edge to force Smith to slide to his left where Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly restricted his chance to escape. Smith’s ill-advised pass was tipped by Kyle Arrington and intercepted by Aqib Talib.

Jones lined up inside before the second interception and stunted behind Wilfork and Michael Buchanan to create late pressure to Smith’s blind side. Wilfork pushed through the middle into Smith’s face and his throw went short and was intercepted by Dennard.