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Ninkovich Living Up To His Own Accountability

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Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Following the New England Patriots’ Week 3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Rob Ninkovich knew he could be better.

Ninkovich was still getting used to his new role as a defensive end, but wasn’t giving any excuses for his lack of production.

“I knew I was capable of making some big plays and being a guy you could count on. The first couple weeks I didn’t feel like I was playing my style,” said Ninkovich. “The last couple weeks, I’ve been trying to change some things.”

“Sometimes moving to a new position, I was just trying to do my job; do my best for the team,” he continued. “As a defensive end, you can’t play the pass in a run situation, or play the run in a pass situation. Its something you get a feel for.”

Read: Welker Takes Playful Jab At Belichick

Whatever changed has worked for Ninkovich. He forced a fumble last week in Buffalo, and followed it up on Sunday by forcing two more in the Pats 31-21 win over the Broncos.

First, he knocked the ball out of Peyton Manning’s hands on a strip sack in the third quarter. Vince Wilfork fell on the loose ball at the Denver 14, which set up an 8-yard touchdown by Stevan Ridley to put the Pats up 31-7.

His second was even more important, sealing the win for the Patriots. With the Broncos threatening to pull within one score in the red zone, Ninkovich hit Willis McGahee, forcing the ball out at the 11-yard line. Jermaine Cunningham picked it up with 3:48 to go, and the Patriots were able to kill the clock and improve to 3-2 on the season.

“I just saw (McGahee) step inside so I followed him. I saw the ball in his right hand and threw a hook at it,” recalled Ninkovich.

“It’s just good defensive football, just being alert,” said head coach Bill Belichick after the game.

“[We] made some huge plays there down the stretch defensively. That fumble was a game saver,” said quarterback Tom Brady. “They’ve been getting turnovers all season.”

“It’s just good defensive football, just being alert,” said head coach Bill Belichick after the game.

Read: Ridley Not Making Excuses Following Late-Game Fumble

The Patriots defense has forced 14 turnovers over the first five weeks of the season, nine of which have come the last two weeks. And Ninkovich has been a big part of that.

“Its like riding a bike,” Ninkovich said after the win. “I’m happy to be back on it.”

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