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Defense comes up with big plays

Unit helps carry Patriots on a day their offense isn't its potent self

Updated: October 17, 2011, 2:11 AM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- If there was one defining theme that resonated throughout the New England Patriots' locker room after the team's 20-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys, it was that the collective confidence of the defense is rising.

The much-maligned unit, referred to by some as the worst in the NFL just a few weeks ago, came through in the clutch on a day when the normally potent offense struggled for long stretches.

"Games like that bring the best out of you as an individual and ...

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