Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/30/12
The Patriots' secondary has been the biggest liability on one of the NFL's most complete teams. But that glaring weakness may slowly be transforming before our very eyes. As Sam Bradford took advantage of the Patriots' tragic flaw with a 50-yard touchdown pass during the Rams' first offensive series on Sunday, thoughts of another letdown were abound. But changes in the secondary saw one of the league's worst pass defenses shut out Bradford and the St. Louis offense the rest of the afternoon. The Patriots held the Rams to just 219 passing yards and intercepted two passes, one from Bradford and the other from backup Kellen Clemens, something they had done just once prior in the season. The secondary wasn't just active picking passes off, though. They also tied a season-high with nine passes defended, accounting for all of the Rams' incompletions on the afternoon. So, as Ice Cube might say, 'it was a good day.' Much of the credit for the shift in secondary success can be bestowed on the impressive play of Devin McCourty and Alfonzo Dennard. With injuries sidelining key members of the Patriots' defensive backfield, including both starting safeties, McCourty and Dennard have stepped up to make key contributions. With both Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory still ailing from injuries, McCourty, who was heavily criticized for his early-season play, has moved over to fill the void at safety. His play deep over the top has been eye opening, as he's been able to contain a lot of the deep passes -- the Rams' touchdown was Tavon Wilson's blown coverage -- that have killed the Patriots this season. His strong play could even see the move become a more permanent solution to the secondary issues. McCourty's absence on the corner hasn't been of great concern though, not with the rookie Dennard filling in. A should be second-round pick who fell all the way into the seventh round because of an off-field arrest, Dennard has proven more than capable as a cover corner. Dennard's a big, physical cornerback at more than 200 pounds, and he's been a very strong tackler on the outside and in the run game. His ball skills are also noteworthy as he's been active in attacking the ball in coverage -- something not many Patriots have shown capable of -- and has now pulled down interceptions in back-to-back games. He might not have been the most ideal starter on a hodgepodge defense coming into the season, but he's certainly established himself a firm place at this point. Sterling Moore looked much better on the outside against the Rams, playing nearly all of the defensive snaps. Before suffering a hamstring injury later in the game, Marquice Cole was the Patriots' best slot corner. If the pair can continue improving in coverage, alongside Dennard, and Kyle Arrington can ever return to the player who led the NFL in interceptions last season, then the Patriots secondary will be much better off. With McCourty at safety, alongside Chung, Dennard and Moore on the outside and contributions from guys like Cole, Arrington and rookie Tavon Wilson, we should see a lot more of what was on display Sunday. The 45-7 romping of the Rams in London was a good sign for a Patriots offense under something of an identity crisis in recent weeks. But it was the emergence of a much-improved secondary that should be the Patriots' biggest win heading into the bye week. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rockies-Diamondbacks game included a broken-bat homer and the longest homer of 2017

Report: Texans wouldn’t take Jay Cutler’s calls

Albert Pujols mocks Rangers pitcher after beef

Top 10 takeaways from the 2017 NFL Draft

Mitchell Trubisky booed at Celtics-Bulls game, for some reason

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Larry Bird's sudden exit adds to uncertainty surrounding Paul George, Pacers

Nationals Adam Eaton out for season with torn ACL

WATCH: Isaiah Thomas talks trash about Bulls on court during Game 6

Jets WR Devin Smith to miss all of 2017 with torn ACL

WATCH: Seahawks use scuba diver to announce 2017 NFL Draft pick

Marshawn Lynch takes out full-page ad in newspaper to thank Seahawks fans

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

Box Score 4/28: NFL Draft gets younger every year

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Marshawn Lynch gives an already-spurned city hometown appeal

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker