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McCourty: Deep thoughts vs. Ravens

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After watching the Ravens’ impressive work in the deep passing game against the Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs, Patriots defensive backs are entering the AFC Championship Game with a clear-cut mentality.

“I think all of us, as secondary players, we have to realize that it’s our job to kind of take away those deep passes and we can’t allow them to just throw the ball over our heads. I think all of us have to have that mentality and understand what they’re trying to do,” relayed defensive back Devin McCourty, one of the team’s captains.

“I think the biggest thing is understanding how strong [Joe] Flacco’s arm is. We already know how fast some of the receivers are, but just being aware and making plays down the field.”

McCourty played cornerback in the teams’ Sept. 23 game, and was called for a costly pass interference penalty on the Ravens’ final scoring drive. But a lot has changed in the Patriots’ secondary since then, as the acquisition of cornerback Aqib Talib and emergence of rookie Alfonzo Dennard has moved McCourty to safety.

McCourty has settled in nicely to the new role.

“Playing safety, you kind of have to be accountable for the whole defense and the coverage as a whole,” he said. “So much of the communication between the two safeties is letting the corners know and letting the linebackers know what we’re doing, what coverage we’re playing.”

McCourty, who noted his mentality has changed as the "head communication guy" in the secondary, was asked if he likes assuming that type of role.

“Yeah, it’s good, you have to put the work in studying, and knowing what different guys are doing, what the offense is doing, what your guys need to do,” he said. “That’s always key when you can get guys on the same page. I think that’s when we play at our best.”