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Defense becomes a key for Patriots

Improvements correlate with team's success over final eight games

Updated: January 6, 2011, 1:02 AM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said the thing that stood out to him most when comparing the New England Patriots from September/October to the team he saw in December was their cornerbacks. He saw great growth from Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington.

When defensive lineman Vince Wilfork reflected on the 2010 regular season, he saw a different Patriots team after the Nov. 7 road loss to the Cleveland Browns, one that demonstrated more trust and played better together. ...

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