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The Boston Globe

Sports

Once again, the Patriots defense rules the day

FOXBOROUGH — Even though most of the starters already had been pulled in a lopsided game that was well in hand, anybody connected to the Patriots defense was focused on the field as Tampa Bay lined up for another fourth-down play late in Sunday’s game.

Which team would win had been determined — the Patriots rolled, 23-3 — so the anxiousness on the New England sideline wasn’t tied to the outcome. It had everything to do with keeping the Buccaneers out of the end zone.

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