Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/21/12
FOXBORO, Mass. -- Devin McCourty nearly fumbled away a win on Sunday night, literally. But without McCourty in the lineup, the Patriots would have never been in a position to win anyway. McCourty had as eventful a day as you could expect from nearly any player in the NFL on Sunday, both good and bad. But in the end, it was the good that outweighed all else as McCourty played a major role in the Patriots' 29-26 overtime win. After the Jets kicked a field goal with just over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 23-23, the onus turned to Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense to pull out a win. But the ball would never even reach Brady. On the ensuing kickoff, McCourty had the ball stripped from his arms giving New York a great field position and a prime opportunity to throw the knockout punch. Fortunately, a field goal would be all the Jets could manage. But it still left the Patriots down three points with less than two minutes to play. The offense bailed McCourty out as the Patriots were able to counter the adversity with one of Brady's classic late game drives to tie the game as time expired. McCourty was devastated by the turnover, but was relieved by the offense's ability to make up for his careless mistake. "My teammates saved my life today," McCourty said with a relieved smirk on his face after the game. "A bad mistake in the fourth quarter, I just have to do a better job holding onto the ball. This was just a total team win we just kept fighting." McCourty's blunder clearly leaves a stain, but without his play the Patriots also wouldn’t have even had the opportunity to win. McCourty rode quite an emotional rollercoaster on kickoffs on Sunday. The fumble obviously sticks out most as it came at such a crucial point in the game, but it was McCourty's elusive speed and elite return skills that also saw him take a kick 104 yards back to the house in the first quarter. The sensational return gave the Patriots a much-needed spark, but McCourty wouldn't take credit for the effort. "I'm a big part of that kickoff return team and I think my teammates did a great job," McCourty said. "Because on that touchdown no one touched me and I just have to work on my responsibility and that's holding onto the ball." That first quarter score is what first got the Patriots on the board and helped alleviate some of the pressure created by the Jets early lead. McCourty's impact was felt beyond the return game, though. His versatility and leadership on defense was even more important. McCourty, who normally is the Patriots top cover cornerback, filled in at safety in the absence of the injured Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory on Sunday. He played well in the role -- as he did at times in 2011 -- and was able contain some of the Jets' big pass plays over the top of the defense. Bill Belichick understood the importance of the return but also knew how vital his ability to change positions was for the defense. "The kickoff return was a big play; it got us going," Belichick said. "He’s a solid guy, he does a good job for us. Whatever he’s asked to do, he does a good job for us." The Patriots secondary struggled once again, even against Mark Sanchez and a hodgepodge of mediocre receivers. But McCourty was one of the lone exceptions, and his willingness to fill that void at safety proved important in the defense finding the little success they did. "With Chung and Gregory both out, we felt like we had to do something back there at safety. Devin has some experience back there. I thought he did a pretty solid job from what I could see," Belichick said. "I thought the deep part of the field was more secure than it's been." Belichick's praise doesn't come cheap, and McCourty's success both in the return game and on defense far outweighed the harm his fumble caused. The gaffed return may be what is remembered about McCourty's performance, but it shouldn't be. McCourty's leadership and unselfishness were what truly stuck out most in the win, and he once again proved just how valuable he is for this Patriots team. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Lakers would fire Byron Scott to hire Luke Walton

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Seahawks’ Frank Clark rips Cam Newton ‘that boy a b—‘

Report: Tom Thibodeau has 'always wanted' Knicks job

Report: Luke Walton will not consider coaching offers until offseason

Budweiser: Peyton Manning not paid for Super Bowl beer plug

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Archie Manning: 'I think Peyton's done in Denver'

Donald Trump: I told Tom Brady not to endorse me for President

Marshawn Lynch: Complicated and talented NFL anti-hero

Hue Jackson lets Manziel and ex know they aren’t alone

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

Tyronn Lue faces backlash for Cavs record since Blatt’s firing

Candidates for New York Knicks head coaching job

Attorney alleges Johnny Manziel ruptured ex-girlfriend's eardrum

Jeanie Buss may clean house in Lakers’ front office

Lisa Ann wants to reward Emmanuel Sanders for Super Bowl win

WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan to announce retirement

Nine best and worst players from 2015 NFL playoffs

Rodman wants Phil Jackson to know he’s ready to coach Knicks

Wade Phillips trolls Cam Newton with dabbing tweet

Top defensive performances in Super Bowl history

FBI questions Jeremy Shockey about drug and gambling ring

Coldplay drummer thought Johnny Football was real name

Ranking every game from 2015 NFL Playoffs

PHOTO: Panthers LB shows gruesome arm injury after SB

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

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

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