Defense puts big play behind

LONDON -- Sunday's game couldn't have started much worse for the Patriots' defense.

Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork was penalized for encroachment on the first play. The Rams then earned an easy first down on the next play -- a 14-yard pass from quarterback Sam Bradford to running back Steven Jackson.

Four plays later, Bradford was exploiting the Patriots where others have all season, lofting a 50-yard touchdown bomb to receiver Chris Givens.

At that point, it looked like the "same old" Patriots defense. Can't stop anyone.

Who would have thought it would be the last time the Rams scored all day?

"I think early in the season, that kills us, giving up a big play and then we put our heads down and give up another one," defensive back Devin McCourty said following the Patriots' dominating 45-7 victory. "I thought we did a good job today of putting that play past us, then playing great defense after that."

It was a perfect storm, the defense coming up with three solid series to close out the first half, and the Patriots' offense simply unstoppable with four touchdowns on four first-half drives.

It was 28-7 at the half. It was over.

McCourty was at safety alongside rookie Tavon Wilson for the second straight game, a result of starters Steve Gregory and Patrick Chung missing the game with injury.

That left rookie Alfonzo Dennard (left) and four-year veteran Kyle Arrington (right) at cornerback, and when Arrington left the game in the first quarter with a head injury, Sterling Moore stepped into the starting unit, with Marquice Cole coming on in the nickel.

"There were some moving parts back there," said McCourty, the captain who was charged with keeping everyone on the same page. "I think one thing we understand in this league, each game anything can happen. A lot of guys are just staying ready."