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Buffalo Bills News - December 16, 2001

Marker Veteran Patriots face youthful Bills [6:46 AM]
D and C reports: 'The New England Patriots are streaking and the Buffalo Bills are reeking.'

Marker Bills Experience is free for today's game [6:45 AM]
D and C reports: 'The Bills Experience, which takes place in the Bills Fieldhouse prior to every home game, will be free to attend prior to today's game against the New England Patriots.'

Marker Q & A with Leif Larsen [6:44 AM]
D and C reports: '[Q:] Where is it colder, Buffalo or Norway? [A:] ''Oh, Norway. I lived in the warmest part of Norway and it's still colder than it is here. There's a lot of snow. When I lived in the north we'd have 10 feet of snow and it could be minus-40 there. This is summer for me right now.'''

Marker Smerlas hasn't mellowed, not one bit [6:43 AM]
D and C reports: 'Of course, Smerlas' strong views aren't what made him one of the most popular Bills of all time. It was his play -- he gobbled up blockers as if they were buckets of chicken wings -- and his regular Joe, lunch-bucket approach that endeared him to Buffaloanians. Though raised in the Boston 'burbs, Smerlas was and is a Buffalo guy. There has always been a mutual empathy between player and town. A feeling that they've both had to scratch and claw to receive their just due.'

Marker Scouting report [6:42 AM]
D and C reports: 'The Patriots are clearly the better team, but it would not be a shock if the Bills pulled off an upset.'

Marker Patriots will need to be close-minded [6:41 AM]
Boston Globe reports: '''It doesn't matter whether the quarterback was [Drew] Bledsoe, [John] Friesz, [Tom] Brady,'' Belichick said Monday. ''It didn't matter whether their quarterback was [Doug] Flutie, [Rob] Johnson. It doesn't matter who the coach was. I mean, Buffalo and New England have played tight, competitive games whether they were early in the season [or] late in the season. Whether the weather was sunny, snowy, windy, in between. They have been tight games; they have come down to the wire. They have been tough, physical, hard-hitting games."'

Marker On the go, he's back for more [6:40 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'When Vrabel was paying his dues as a backup in Pittsburgh for four seasons, the Patriots saw enough to take a chance - and give him one. Thirteen games into his second career, the Patriots aren't second-guessing themselves.'

Marker Tedy Bruschi is the Patriots' do-it-all player [6:39 AM]
Boston Herald reports: '...Bruschi is slated to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, and is having what many experts consider the best football season of his life while playing a variety of positions.'

Marker Buffalo also plays better with backup [6:38 AM]
Providence Journal reports: 'Whatever problems Buffalo has had this season, the change in quarterbacks is not one of them.'

Marker Pats fans missing out thanks to distractions [6:36 AM]
Providence Journal reports: 'This is the classic example of what Bill Parcells used to call a "trap" game.'

Marker QB Brady finds mental challenges can be a grind [6:35 AM]
Providence Journal reports: '"People have talked a lot about Kendrick Bell from Pittsburgh as a potential rookie-of-the-year, but Nate Clements' stats can rank against any defensive rookie," said Bills coach Gregg Williams . "He has had a very good season. He was thrown into heavy duty maybe a little bit sooner than we were ready for him to do, but he has played very well."'

Marker Pushing the right buttons [6:34 AM]
Metro West Daily News reports: 'So far this season, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has used anchors, shovels, movies, horse races, newspaper clippings, poems and handouts to get his weekly point across to his team.'

Marker Smerlas' number is up [6:32 AM]
Metro West Daily News reports: 'Then in Buffalo he gained notoriety for both his personality and his prowess on the defensive line. Known as one of the NFL's great characters in an era when the homogenization of the league was starting to filter out many of those true characters, Smerlas carved a niche in upstate New York that he still occupies to this day.'

Marker Crunch time [6:31 AM]
Metro West Daily News reports: 'In 11 weeks, Brady appears to have supplanted Drew Bledsoe - an in-his-prime, franchise quarterback - while the ink was still wet on Bledsoe's 10-year contract extension. Has that ever happened before?'

Marker Playoff road hazardous [6:29 AM]
Springfield Union News reports: '"Buffalo and New England have played tight, competitive games whether they were early in the season or late in the season. Whether the weather was sunny, windy or in between, they have been tight games. They have come down to the wire."'

Marker Patriots - Bills Preview [6:28 AM]
Springfield Union News reports: 'The Bills are a respectable seventh in the AFC in total defense, but they have allowed about 28 points per game — second worst in the conference. Simply put, they do not force any turnovers or make big plays.'

Marker Buffalo's gone in new direction [6:27 AM]
Springfield Union News reports: 'The result is a team in better salary cap shape, but one that is not ready to win consistently.'

Marker Veterans execute at the ends [6:25 AM]
Springfield Union News reports: 'Bobby Hamilton, who plays on the left side, and Anthony Pleasant, who plays on the right, have combined for 10 sacks this season with Pleasant throwing in a couple of interceptions.'

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December 15, 2001

Marker Patriots playing with poise, Bills playing [3:37 PM]
AP reports: 'Whereas the rebuilding and banged-up Bills have continually failed to overcome their deficiencies, the Patriots almost appear to revel in theirs.'

Marker A nose for the game [9:10 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"The guys on our team played together, fought together and drank together," Smerlas said. "It was kind of a "North Dallas Forty' lifestyle. We joked around, pulled pranks on people and did a lot of wild stuff. Most of them I can't tell you."'

Marker Fighting for fans [9:09 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'In fact, the last-place Bills (2-10) currently stand 17th in average home attendance in the 31-team league.'

Marker Criqui's on top of his game for Bills broadcasts [9:07 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"I haven't done this many Bills games since I was partnered with John Brodie in the early 1980s," said Criqui in a telephone interview from his New Jersey home.'

Marker Hansen just keeps working [6:41 AM]
D and C reports: '"You won't find a more down-to-earth, honest, hard-working guy than Phil Hansen. He's a credit to any team. He's from the old school."'

Marker Mental grind surprises Brady [6:40 AM]
D and C reports: '"There is a lot of stuff going on right now, needless to say," Brady said. "I mean it's easy to get distracted, but everyone owes it to the team and their teammates to prepare as best as possible."'

Marker Smith needed a change of scenery [6:38 AM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'Sometimes the only way a professional athlete is going to salvage his career is by moving on. And Smith is a perfect example.'

Marker Will Bills eat crow? [6:37 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: '"It was hard because I felt things were being blamed on me that I felt weren't my fault," Smith said. "This league is a business and it's all about what you have done for me lately. If you're not performing, teams give up on you."'

Marker Comic relief: Silence [6:34 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'For the first time in some time, there was no controversy, only comic relief at Foxboro Stadium.'

Marker Tactics are proof positive [6:33 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'Monday marks the one-year anniversary of the night Ty Law had ecstacy pills seized by US Customs in Niagara Falls, N.Y., following the Patriots' 13-10 overtime victory in Buffalo. Law and receivers Terry Glenn and Troy Brown skipped the team flight, which was delayed by snow, and spent the rest of the night at a strip club in Canada.'

Marker Footage gives Pats leg up [6:31 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'The Pats have come a long way, and Belichick deserves much of the credit for getting them there. A key part of his style has been the use of motivational tools.'

Marker Patriots newcomers give team an edge [6:30 AM]
Providence Journal reports: 'One of the other big reasons why the Pats are appreciably better than a year ago is they are tougher. A case can be made that virtually everyone Bill Belichick brought in has contributed to a degree of intensity that simply wasn't there last year.'

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09/13 Indianapolis Colts 1:00 pm
09/20 New England Patriots 1:00 pm
09/27 @ Miami Dolphins 4:25 pm
10/04 New York Giants 1:00 pm
10/11 @ Tennessee Titans 1:00 pm
10/18 Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 pm
10/25 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 9:30 am
11/08 Miami Dolphins 1:00 pm
11/12 @ New York Jets 8:25 pm
11/23 @ New England Patriots 8:30 pm
11/29 @ Kansas City Chiefs 1:00 pm
12/6 Houston Texans 1:00 pm
12/13 @ Philadelphia Eagles 1:00 pm
12/20 @ Washington Redskins 1:00 pm
12/27 Dallas Cowboys 1:00 pm
01/03 New York Jets 1:00 pm

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