Michael Turner believes that Sunderland's defensive performance against Stoke was evidence of the strides taken forward by the back four.
Victory at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday gave manager Martin O'Neill his fifth win in the last six Premier League games and the match was the side's third consecutive clean sheet.
Sunderland have only conceded three goals since the turn of the year and hold the fourth-best defensive record in the Premier League.
After closing out another game without conceding O'Neill's men beat Stoke City 1-0 and Turner has praised the defence he featured in for the progress which has been made under the new manager.
"Sometimes, you can't win every ball and you just need to try to get in the way of someone or block them off," he said.
"Credit to the lads, everyone defended for their lives in that penalty area. It was a great result.
"We kept them to opportunities from long distance and we defended their set plays tremendously well."
Conditions on the ground for the weekend's fixture troubled both sides as snow fell but Turner believes his side got the upper hand when Robert Huth was dismissed for the home team following a challenge on David Meyler.
"The snow was pounding down for the whole game and only got worse as it went on," he added.
"It was always going to be an untidy game with the conditions. But with them going down to 10 men, we knew at half-time we had a chance to get a tremendous result."
However with Stoke continuing to attack despite the red card Turner, who joined the club in 2009 when he left Hull City, admits his side did not get carried away and proceeded to concentrate on their own goals.
"Because of the way they play, with the long throws and free-kicks into your box, it doesn't matter if they've got 10 or 11 players," he said. "They're still going to play the same way.
"We knew if we got to half-time and did exactly what we did in the first half, then we'd get that chance to win the game and we managed to do that."