FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Much was said after the New England Patriots' 34-9 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, but it was hard to find a more decisive statement than what was delivered by cornerback Darrelle Revis.
"This is probably the best group of guys I've been around, secondary-wise, where everyone is just talented," he said. "We can do so many versatile things in our defense."
Revis, now in his eighth NFL season, is the centerpiece of it all, with Sunday's victory another reminder of this.
With the Patriots mostly matching him up against Lions leading receiver Golden Tate, which left fellow cornerback Brandon Browner to check Calvin Johnson with safety help often over the top, the Patriots blanketed the Lions as quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 39.1 percent of his passes, the lowest mark of his six-year career.
Revis had four pass breakups, two coming on third down, as Stafford completed just one pass on him. Unlike some other teams, the Lions didn't shy away from throwing at Revis, but they paid a price in doing so.
Revis Island, in case anyone was wondering, is alive and well.
What stands out is how Revis gives coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia such flexibility with their game plans. He's the queen piece on the Patriots' chessboard, a player who sometimes seems to be effortlessly running the route before the receiver himself because his anticipation is simply elite.
Revis lined up across from Tate on 59 of his snaps Sunday, as charted by Kyle Brasseur of ESPNBoston.com.
"He's still, in my mind, one of the best to play the game," Tate said. "They had a great game plan to limit myself and CJ."
One example of how the Patriots utilized Revis as their queen piece came early in the second quarter when the Lions were at the Patriots' 2-yard line. That was one of just two plays all game that Revis switched his assignment to cover Johnson, and he broke up a pass intended to him in the corner of the end zone.
The play highlighted part of what impresses Belichick about the five-time Pro Bowler.
"Revis is really good at his focus, concentration, technique, playing the ball -- with his back to the ball or his back not to the ball," Belichick said. "He has a real good sense of timing and does a good job of keeping his hands off the receivers even though he's really very close to them. When he's making a play on the ball, he does a good job of not getting very many penalties because he's good with that off-hand and doesn't use it to grab or pull or tug on the receiver. He's very disciplined, very focused and has great concentration."
But as is the case in football, it takes more than one player to produce a strong defense, and Revis and Browner give the Patriots a potent one-two punch on the outside.
"I don't know if there's a group of corners playing better than our group right now," marveled safety Devin McCourty.
"I feel our coaches do a great job using the talent we have and to match up with other offenses, and match up with them well," he said, adding that the Patriots were motivated by the Lions referring to themselves as the best defense in the NFL during the days leading into the game. "If you look at our roster, we have talent across the board everywhere. I think Bill and them really dial in -- if it is matchups, what guy is the best for that matchup, I think we really do a great job of that."
Belichick explained after the game how the Patriots go through the process of putting together game plans, and how sometimes there are multiple scenarios they work through before coming to a final decision. Then there are other situations where, "it's obvious, we all look at it and it takes about five minutes to all say, 'OK, this is how we want to play this game.'"
The plan against the Lions seemed to fall into the first category, and it turned out to be another winner, highlighted by Revis' work on Tate.
"It's a different plan every week," Revis said. "It's a tough job but at the same time I'm the man they call for to do it sometimes -- to play inside, to play outside, to do whatever, to help the team. The big goal is to help the team. I call us hybrids. We're all interchangeable."
Revis is right, but there's only one player in the group who's also irreplaceable.
That's the one who called this the best group he's been around, secondary-wise, in his career.