FOXBORO -- Tommy Kelly said it earlier in the week. All great defenses start with a great defensive line.
Kelly didn't have any tackles in Friday night's 25-21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium, but the rest of his defensive front was able to create a ferocious attack that kept both Bucs quarterbacks -- Josh Freeman and Mike Glennon -- pressured in the first half.
"Guys were just making plays, flying around," said Chandler Jones after the win. "Not even calling it an attack mode. Guys were just making plays left and right. [Brandon] Spikes came in early. [Rob] Ninkovich had a sack. [Vince] Wilfork was doing a good job. Wilfork is always taking on those double teams, which just makes it easier for me, makes it easier for the rest of the line. Everyone was just going hard."
The Patriots recorded four sacks on the night. They were the only four sacks in the game. All of them coming in the first half. And all of them coming from Brandon Spikes, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.
Spikes had two of those four sacks. His first came on the Buccaneers' very first offensive play, as he took down Freeman for a loss of four yards.
His second sack came on Tampa's second possession. This time, Spikes took Freeman down for a loss of seven yards on third down, forcing a punt.
Earlier in that same Buccaneers possession, Jones found his way into the backfield and sacked Freeman for a loss of four yards. That was on first down.
And in Tampa Bay's third possession, Ninkovich was able to get his hands on backup quarterback Glennon for a loss of six yards on third down, forcing the Buccaneers to punt.
The Patriots defense has a long way to go in order to prove to be a "great" defense. But if the starting point is a dominant front seven, this group has given many early indications that it will be quite a dominant pass rush.