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Sports

November 29, 2012

Patriots truly displaying 'special' teams of late

FOXBOROUGH — Derrick Martin has built a championship career out of playing on special teams.

The seven-year veteran earned Super Bowl rings the past two seasons — first with the Green Bay Packers and then with the New York Giants. Now he has a shot at a third straight title with the New England Patriots.

He offers no apologies for making his mark on special teams rather than on the higher profile offensive or defensive units.

“You look for guys to step in and contribute,” Martin said Wednesday of special teams. “Don’t be out there just because you have to, but take it as a serious job, make sure you’re making the plays that you’re supposed to make.”

The Patriots (8-3) have made some big ones during their five-game winning streak with touchdowns on a 104-yard kickoff return by Devin McCourty, a 68-yard punt return by Julian Edelman and a 22-yard fumble return by Edelman after McCourty jarred the ball loose on a kickoff return.

Plays like that can energize the Patriots and deflate their opponents.

“You feed off of it,” Martin said. “When you see somebody else making a play, you’re like, ‘Man, it’s probably my turn to make that play,’ and everybody’s competing to make that play, but they’re all doing their job. So everybody’s working well as a team.”

His next chance comes Sunday in Miami where a win would give the Patriots their fourth straight AFC East title. The Dolphins (5-6) also have made some big plays on special teams with Marcus Thigpen scoring on a 72-yard punt return and a 96-yard kickoff return this season.

“It’s not going to be an easy task going against them, and it’s not going to be easy for them going against us,” said Marlon Moore, Miami’s second-leading tackler on special teams. “It’s going to be a long day on both sides of the ball for special teams, and that’s going to be a big difference in the game.”

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