PATS 30, FALCONS 23
-- Patriots hang on for win over Falcons
-- Wilfork tears Achilles, probably out for season
-- Talib comes out on top again
-- Key play: Blount's long TD run
-- Paoletti's game superlatives
TOM E. CURRAN
-- The Patriots are still Brady's bunch
-- WATCH: 'Remarkable performance' by defense
ATLANTA -- "We won the game," said Aqib Talib, "that's all that matters."
The Patriots did beat Atlanta, 30-23, at the Georgia Dome Sunday night. It was another narrow escape, another ugly win.
And another big night for Talib.
The cornerback broke up Matt Ryan's fourth-down pass to Roddy White, thrown into the end zone with 41 seconds left in regulation, to secure New England's win. Talib insists the defense didn't waver when the Falcons made that late swoop into the red zone.
"We practice it all the time," he explained. "We practice every situation; Bill does a good job of putting us in every situation. We did it in practice before, that's why we felt like we could do it in a game."
Talib also picked off a Ryan pass in the fourth quarter, a turnover the Patriots offense converted into three points. The interception was Talib's fourth, a league-best, in four games. His career-high? Six, which he grabbed with the Buccaneers in 2010.
He is currently on pace for 16.
"Aqib has played great for us all year, all the way back to the spring and training camp," head coach Bill Belichick said after the game. "He’s stepped up in every game and played well, played the ball well and played against good receivers. He’s tackled well. He’s done a good job for us."
The coaches trust Talib enough to assign him the oppositions' toughest targets, like Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson in Week 3. Sunday night was no different as Talib was took on star Falcons receiver Julio Jones. The Patriots mixed it up on Jones and fellow standout Roddy White, sometimes using double coverage, and sometimes using Talib as a single shadow.
Jones was shut down for three quarters, catching just three passes for 22 yards. The dam did break, however, and the NFL's leading receiver finished with 108 yards. Atlanta's quarterback finished with 34 completions for 421 yards.
"[They're] explosive, man," Aqib said. "They can come at you four, five different ways, from Harry Douglas to Tony [Gonzalez], Julio, to Roddy. And they've got a great quarterback, a first round guy who was good in college, good immediately in the league."
The Patriots knew how dangerous Ryan and his receivers could be. Luckily, Talib was better in the end.