FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Another game, another forced fumble for Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich, who tied a team record for the most forced fumbles in a season on Sunday with his fifth in the Patriots' convincing 59-24 thrashing over the Indianapolis Colts.
The play was something of a trifecta for Ninkovich, as he forced a fumble on a sack of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, while also recovering the fumble and giving the ball back to his offense.
Ninkovich is developing a reputation for making big plays on a weekly basis, and that's plenty fine by him.
"Having the team get a lot of turnovers is one of the best things we do," he said in the locker room after the game. "Obviously there’s some things that you don’t want to give up in yardage and things like that, but when you can lead the league in turnovers, that speaks a lot for what we do on defense."
The sack was set up by a series of bull-rushes by Ninkovich throughout the game.
"All game I was kind of just bull-rush, bull-rush, just trying to get him back into the quarterback, make him uncomfortable, get him back into his face," Ninkovich said. "And on that one I was able to give him a little bull-rush and then grab his arm, pull his arm up and get underneath him around the corner."
As it turns out, the subsequent recovery by Ninkovich was a stroke of good fortune.
"I didn’t really see the ball until it was at my feet," he said. "I didn't know if he threw it or what because I knew I had just hit him. I didn’t know where the ball was until I saw it.
"That one I just fell down, I saw the ball, I was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to grab it,’” he said.
The forced fumble was one of four turnovers induced by the Patriots on Sunday, and they continue to be the best team in football in turnover differential. Ninkovich noted that while his defense has been prone to giving up big yardage totals, they've also made the necessary big plays.
"We might give up a little yard here or there, but when you turn the ball over, especially to our offense that’s going to score every time they get the ball, it just sets you up to be good in the fourth quarter," Ninkovich said.