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Ihedigbo: Pats should be intimidated by Lions' defense

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park —The New England Patriots have won at least 12 games each season since 2010. Dating back to 2009, they've lost just three games at home, and since 2002, they are 21-4 at home against the NFC.

With Tom Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as coach, New England has won three Super Bowls since 2001, lost two others and won 11 division titles.

But when the Lions (7-3) travel to Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, they won't be intimidated. In fact, strong safety James Ihedigbo said the Patriots and other opponents should be scared of the Lions.

"Man, look at the names, and guys we've got on this team. You should be intimidated by the people we've got on this team," Ihedigbo said Wednesday. "We got (Ndamukong) Suh; we got guys that are beasts in this league, not even just on this team. So why should we take a backseat to anybody? Why should we?"

After 11 weeks, the Lions still have the No. 1 defense in the NFL. Led by Suh, linebacker DeAndre Levy and the safety tandem of Ihedigbo and Glover Quin, the Lions are allowing just 15.6 points per game and just 290.3 yards per game. They also rank No. 1 against the run, allowing 68.8 yards, and fifth against the pass, allowing 221.5 yards.

But does Ihedigbo think the Lions have put fear into their opponents yet?

"Play us on Sundays. If you ain't, we will (and) you'll see by the end of it."

The Lions' offense has struggled most of the season as the team ranks 26th in the NFL with 18.8 points per game and 21st with 332.3 yards per game. But with Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Matthew Stafford, the Lions do have some intimidating names on that side, too.

From coach Jim Caldwell's perspective, though, fear doesn't play a role for most teams in the NFL because players are "afraid of nothing." With how performances change from week to week, any team can win at any time anywhere, which could help the Lions remain confident for the upcoming task. The Patriots rank second in the NFL with 32.3 points per game and have scored at least 42 points each of the past three games.

"There's not a whole lot of guys that read and fear someone's reputation from a buildup of what they've received maybe through some other vehicles," Caldwell said.

And even though the Lions defense continues to impress, the identity remains exactly as Caldwell projected during the offseason.

"Smart, fast and physical," he said. "That's it."

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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