Patriots defense unfazed by high-flying Falcons

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Something has got to give on Super Bowl Sunday when the National Football League's top-scoring Atlanta Falcons face a New England Patriots defense that allowed the fewest points in the league.

The Patriots would lose in the glamor department, but count on their know-how and synchronicity to get the job done in U.S. sport's biggest event.

SEE ALSO: Patriots' Brady, Belichick bask in another Super Bowl trip

"There's not a lot of flash to us," said linebacker Dont'a Hightower. "We're a very competitive team. What we do is make it hard for the other team to score, and we do a great job of that."

"The biggest thing for us is that we kind of gelled together. That chemistry, that brotherhood and accountability really grew and took off.

"We're not just a good football team, we're a smart football team."

Safety Devin McCourty said the Pats' defense built momentum as the season progressed.

"We got off to a slow start, but you do not want to peak during Week 1 or Week 5. You want to peak towards the end of the season," said McCourty.

"We just play as a team. That is what it is all about, playing as a team. The numbers show it."'

New England Patriots 2016 season (14-2 record)
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New England Patriots 2016 season (14-2 record)

Week 1: Patriots 23, Cardinals 21

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Week 2: Dolphins 24, Patriots 31

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Week 3: Texans 0, Patriots 27

(Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Week 4: Bills 16, Patriots 0

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Week 5: Patriots 33, Browns 13

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Week 6: Bengals 17, Patriots 35

(Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Week 7: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Week 8: Patriots 41, Bills 25

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Week 9: Bye

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Week 10: Seahawks 31, Patriots 24

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Week 11: Patriots 30, 49ers 17

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Week 12: Patriots 22, Jets 17

(Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

Week 13: Rams 10, Patriots 26

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Week 14: Ravens 23, Patriots 30

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Week 15: Patriots 16, Broncos 3

(Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Week 16: Jets 3, Patriots 41

(Photo by David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

Week 17: Patriots 35, Dolphins 14

(Photo by Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

AFC Divisional Round: Texans 16, Patriots 34

(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

AFC Championship: Steelers 17, Patriots 36

(Photo by James Lang-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)


In the seven prior instances where the NFL's top offense faced the stingiest defense in the Super Bowl the defense has prevailed six times.

While Atlanta averaged nearly 40 points a game, New England allowed less than 17 points a game on average, getting extra stingy once opponents closed in on the end zone.

"That chemistry we built, we're able to know where guys are going to be," said Hightower. "We're able to just kind of look at each other and just know, 'Hey bro, I'm rushing. 'Hey, I'm dropping.'"

Hightower also said having the luxury of practicing against prolific passer Tom Brady helped their cause.

"We feel that we go against one of the best if not the best offense every day in practice with Tom and that outstanding pass team that we have," said Hightower. "It's good we get that test every day."

McCourty said the defensive secondary had the same knack of knowing how their colleagues would react.

"It starts with us hanging out in the locker room, us hanging out off the field, going to dinners together, building that bond and that trust it takes to play together," said McCourty.

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