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Josh Uche continues strong stretch of play with 3-sack performance against Indianapolis

Related: Patriots get revenge over Colts with big special teams play

As Matthew Judon has already established himself as one of the top pass rushers in the NFL, Josh Uche’s play opposite of him has elevated the New England Patriots defense of late.

Against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Uche recorded three sacks on quarterback Sam Ehlinger, helping lead the Patriots’ dominant pass rush. All three of his sacks came on third down, where Uche is responsible for calling the pass rush plays.

“I don’t know if y’all know, but Josh actually calls the plays out there when we’re on third down,” Judon said postgame. “So our execution is from him. That’s hard for somebody that’s in year three, and hasn’t had that much success in the NFL, and it’s third and long and he has to make the right call, right?

“So, for him to come out there, and have a game like he had and play lights out like that, that just allows him to see what he can do in this league. He can be a premiere pass rusher.”

In three years in New England, Uche has never been able to fully put it together. Injuries have limited him to just 21 games in his first two seasons, with the former Michigan Wolverine piling up just four sacks in those games.

Uche has shown flashes of his ability in the past during training camp, but finally appears to be putting it together on the field as well. In the last two games, he has matched his career total with four sacks.

“I’m just being me,” Uche said. “You know I always have faith in myself and even when nobody else believes in me, I kind of always knew what I was capable of. My dad has been a big help for me as well, just keeping that confidence as well so it’s been great.”

Uche’s growth as a player was on display against Indianapolis. With Judon baring down on Ehlinger, he was waiting for the quarterback as he climbed the pocket. It’s a play he might not have made the past two seasons, but is now. He gave credit to defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington and assistant Joe Kim for that growth.

“Just the drills we work, each and every day, our coaches do a great job we have certain drills that we work on, so going out there is kind of reactionary. Big shout-out to those guys,” he said.

The Patriots entered Week 9 with one of the best pressure rates in football. After a nine sack game on Sunday, that number rate should only climb. And if Uche can continue his play across from Judon, the Patriots’ pass rush will be a force from here on out.

“It was awesome. It was great. He’s battled so much to get on the field,” team captain Deatrich Wise Jr. said of Uche’s performance. “I’m very, very happy for him. I hope he continues to have this same stretch for the whole season.”