Devin McCourty: Pats' D on the cusp

BOSTON -- When New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty was asked for his Super Bowl prediction in the days leading up to the game, he went with the Seattle Seahawks. He talked about how defense wins championships, and since he's a defender himself, that was the easy selection.

With that, McCourty showed the ability to make the decisive pick on and off the field (he has 15 career interceptions).

After watching how decisively the Seahawks clamped down on the Denver Broncos, McCourty was asked Tuesday during an appearance at Boston Children's Hospital if he envisions the Patriots elevating to a similar defensive level.

"I think we can," said McCourty, a team captain who enters his fifth NFL season. "Those guys had a great game plan and they went out there and executed it on the biggest stage of the year. That's what it really comes down to in games like that."

McCourty relayed his viewpoint that the Patriots' defense did "great things" in 2013, while noting future success comes down to consistency. Asked what gives him the confidence that the Patriots' defense could consistently impact a game like the Seahawks did in the Super Bowl, McCourty pointed to his teammates.

"Just last year, we went through a lot defensively and as a team, and to see guys continue to work hard and try to get better and go out there to win as many games as we did -- to fall a little short, but it gives you the confidence going forward we know we have the right guys to build something," he said.

Two key players in that building process are McCourty himself and free-agent cornerback Aqib Talib.

McCourty naturally voiced his support for Talib, saying he hopes he returns in 2014 and beyond. Then there's McCourty's own contract status, as he enters the final year of the rookie deal he signed in 2010 and is scheduled to earn a base salary of $3.92 million.

McCourty is a strong candidate for a contract extension at some point.

"I don't even think about it," he said. "I go out, play football, and I truly believe the rest will take care of itself ... There's nothing else I can control. I like to not drive myself crazy and by doing that, it's focusing on what you can control."

McCourty spent part of the morning at Boston Children's Hospital serving pancakes from International House of Pancakes after meeting with doctors about sickle cell disease, as part of his "Tackle Sickle Cell" campaign.

As for the pancakes, McCourty joked about his flavor of choice, "I'm more just buttermilk. Just give me some hot syrup and I'm ready to go."