Ninkovich talks ID of Pats' D

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots' defense has made strides in 2012, particularly since the November acquisition of cornerback Aqib Talib. But one thing that has been consistent from the group all season is its ability to force turnovers.

When considering the Patriots' defensive identity, that's where defensive end Rob Ninkovich began.

"I feel like we go out there and we work hard, we make big plays and turnovers at the right times in the game," he said on Thursday. "Obviously I think being second in the league in turnover ratio is going to help, especially us with the offense that we have. As long as we go out there and do our job, that's what our attitude is, going out there and doing what we have to do to create those turnovers and give our offense the best chance we can to be putting those points on the board."

Ninkovich has been critical to the team's turnover-forcing success, with five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and an interception to go along with his team-best eight sacks.

He said that he thinks about the opportunity to turn the football over before every snap.

"As a defensive player, you're always thinking the ball is a key," he said. "You're always looking at the ball. On the snap, you're trying to find the ball in pursuit and people around the ball making plays, you're always aware where it's at: it's fumbled, it's on the ground, something, you've got to get on it. Let everyone else decide what's going on -- as long as you get the ball it will all work itself out. As a defensive player, that's in your mind all the time, being prepared to get on top of it."