Bill Belichick: Patriots emphasized punching out the ball in practice, got results Sunday

The Titans fumbled five times in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, and New England coach Bill Belichick said that was in part the result of a tactic his team has been emphasizing in practice recently: Punching out the football.

Belichick said after the game that forcing fumbles has been a major part of the Patriots’ practices for the last month, and it paid off against Tennessee.

“There’s great plays defensively to have the awareness to recognize it and use proper technique to get it out,” Belichick said. “We can talk about it, but ultimately it’s the players who have to make that split-second decision as they’re coming in on the ball, coming in on the tackle, to get that punch and get that pressure on the ball cleanly to get it out. Sometimes it comes out and sometimes it doesn’t, but if you don’t punch at it it’s not going to come out as much. Players have really worked hard at that, starting back in October, started putting a big emphasis on it.”

In his 22nd season as the Patriots’ head coach, Belichick has one of his best defenses, and the Patriots are increasingly looking like a Super Bowl team.