Bledsoe-Brady I: First Blood [9:35 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Can Bledsoe outplay Brady and lead the Bills past the defending Super Bowl champions? Can Bledsoe be a virus in the computer-like brain of Bill Belichick today and for the better part of the next five years? That's what we begin to find out in Bledsoe Bowl I at Ralph Wilson Stadium.'
As it comes to pass, winner will need to run [9:34 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"This is the time of the year when the weather changes and the running game becomes more important," said Henry, who gained 51 and 54 yards in two losses to the Patriots last year. "We've had some good games running the ball so far, but we've got to step up even more this week."'
Hype, hype, hooray: Long-awaited Bledsoe Bowl has arrived [9:33 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Opponents took a look at that K.C. film and designed their game plans for infantry attacks. The Pats haven't stopped anyone since.'
Stopping Bledsoe no joke to Belichick [9:32 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Say what you will about Belichick's wooden personality, or his dismissive approach with players, he is the top defensive football mind of his generation.'
Eminence front [9:31 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"I don't know that you're ever ahead of schedule, but we're doing some things that are positive," said Ronnie Vinklarek, the offensive line coach. "Our communication is better, our cohesiveness is better and our chemistry is enhancing every week."'
Q&A with Drew Bledsoe [9:29 AM]
Sacramento Bee reports: 'Q: This league often has been described as the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. Are you the ultimate example of that? A: When you play in this league, you're on trial every week. If you play for a long time, maybe you get a couple weeks before your job is on the line. Every player knows if he doesn't play well he can get yanked. Yeah, I was an example of it last year. I played a lot of years, did a lot of things for the organization, but got hurt. The other guy was playing well, and all of a sudden I can't get back on the field.'
No regrets in trading Bledsoe [9:28 AM]
Sacramento Bee reports: '"What I did was take a look at what the situation was and what the options were, and again, made the decisions I felt were in the best interest of the football team," Belichick said. "There's a million different scenarios we can always create, but in the end, there's certain options that were available, and there were certain options that weren't."'
The best matchup of the day: New England at Buffalo [9:27 AM]
Sacramento Bee reports: 'Despite Bledsoe's impressive passing statistics, Buffalo will run the ball early and often with its best ballcarrier, Travis Henry, because New England's run defense has been shredded regularly, giving up an average of 142.3 yards for a league ranking of 29th.'
A Heroes Hero: Hunter's Hope [9:08 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: When the Bills play the division rival New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium there will be more going on than just the battle at hand. Bills fans from far and wide will be there to honor the legendary quarterback Jim Kelly one more time.
Bledsoe trade looks brilliant for Bills through eight games [5:49 AM]
D and C reports: 'After winning the Super Bowl with unheralded Tom Brady, it was clear they needed to move Bledsoe and avert what would’ve been a debilitating team controversy. But to an AFC East division rival they would have to face twice a year?'
Q&A with Marques Sullivan [5:48 AM]
D and C reports: '[Q:] What is the pain like on Monday mornings after an NFL game? [A:] ’’It can be pretty bad. Of course you’re going to come away with bumps and bruises, so you have to take care of your body. The worse part is your fingers because you’re constantly using them, and you have defensive players swatting at them all the time.’’'
Patriots' Brady goes from hero to questioned QB [5:47 AM]
D and C reports: 'The real quarterback with something to prove is Brady. He may have made Bledsoe expendable in New England and become the youngest player ever to win Super Bowl MVP honors. But a scant nine months after holding the Lombardi Trophy aloft, Brady is walking around with a target on his back as big as the Green Monster.'
Butler, Donahoe are top execs [5:46 AM]
D and C reports: 'The Chargers will play the Bills in Buffalo on Dec. 15, and the way these two young teams are improving, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them meet in the AFC playoffs in the near future -- perhaps as soon as January 2003.'
Bledsoe, Brady together again today [5:45 AM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'Their fates are inexorably tied and have been since last April 21.'
Spotlight belongs to Bledsoe today [5:44 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'With a win, the Bills would not only continue their rise to playoff contention, they could land a near fatal blow on the defending Super Bowl champions, who have lost their past four. "Beware the wounded bear," said Bills defensive end Chidi Ahanatou. "It's a dangerous thing."'
Master plans [5:43 AM]
Boston Globe reports: '''I would guess he would roll some coverage to protect Otis Smith [if he plays] out there,'' said Zolak. ''I'm not sure whether Bill would stick to what he's done against Drew or change it up. In the days when Bill was successful against Drew, Drew didn't have receivers like Peerless Price and Eric Moulds. Those guys can get free down the field. I would think the Patriots would play a Cover-2 defense and probably mix a few other things in."'
Buffalo turned 2001 losses into 2002 gains [5:42 AM]
Boston Globe reports: '''I have tremendous respect for Bill [Belichick] and Scott [Pioli] for what they did there last year,'' said Gregg Williams, coach of the 5-3 Bills. ''[General manager] Tom [Donahoe] and I talked an awful lot about that during the season and toward the end of the season, about what was taking place down there. It was on my mind quite a bit when we were identifying the people that we were bringing in here to complement the people that were already here.'''
Gilbride plays a lead role in the QB drama [5:41 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'Belichick's plan and Bledsoe's response to it will certainly be key factors today, but so will the play selection of Bills offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.'
The completion of his life [5:40 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'So why DIDN'T other teams jump at a chance to trade for Bledsoe? ``No. 1, I was coming off an injury,'' said Bledsoe. ``No. 2, I was carrying a pretty heavy price tag. There weren't a lot of teams in the league that could afford, with the salary cap, to do the deal. Maybe there wasn't as much interest out there as I would have hoped, but I'm tremendously thankful that I ended up where I did. I look around the league and I can't imagine getting myself to a situation that would be any better -- personally or professionally -- than where I am right now.'''
Henry making gains [5:39 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'Running backs have been benched for less, but Bills coach Gregg Williams said Henry's job is safe. ``It was a huge hit, and I think we showed our confidence in Travis by handing it to him right when he came back in,'' said Wiliams. ``Travis is our running back, and will continue to be our running back.'''
Beware a jilted passer [5:38 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'One possible weakness is the sack total. Between the longer patterns and the new offensive line, Bledsoe has been sacked 30 times already, which puts them in 29th place in the league stats in protecting the quarterback.'
Time to ride the A-train [5:37 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'The Patriots like to design their weekly offense based on the opponent's weaknesses rather than their own strengths. For the next couple of games, it's logical to expect Antowain Smith, not Tom Brady, to be the focal point.'
Confidence men [5:36 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'Why such an even keel on what is perceived to be a sinking ship? Perhaps it's because the Patriots don't see themselves as going down for the count. There seems to be the feeling -- espoused by Bill Belichick and adopted by the players -- that they have just gone through as tough a stretch of games as any team in the league has faced. They've played four of the best teams in the NFL and players on all four of those teams remarked that they played their best games of the year against New England.'
Simms still believes in Brady [5:35 AM]
Boston Herald reports: '``Brady has all the qualities - poise, size, a terrific throwing arm, wonderful relationships with the players and he knows how to be a leader. And I don't think media criticism will affect him. It's the first time he's been involved with losing as an NFL starter and must learn to deal with it, but he doesn't bear all the responsibility for New England's struggles.'''
Gray, snowbound Buffalo thanks Patriots for Bledsoe [5:34 AM]
Providence Journal reports: '"This is a dying city. Poor management. Poor government. All we really have is football to look forward to."'
Belichick has history of rattling Bledsoe [5:33 AM]
Providence Journal reports: 'Once all the verbal bouquets are tossed, though, this matchup today comes down to one thing between coach and former player. Legitimizing. Bledsoe wants to prove Belichick made the worst mistake a coach could make when he turned his back on him. He wants to embarrass Belichick. Belichick would like his team to simply dismiss Bledsoe today and vindicate the coach for a decision Belichick saw as inevitable.'
Bledsoe has chance to do number on Belichick's head [5:32 AM]
Providence Journal reports: 'Belichick wants to get in my head? Fine. I want to kick his butt.'
Bledsoe Gets Top Billing [5:31 AM]
Hartford Courant reports: 'There should be a lot of Kodak moments today, but don't expect any of Bledsoe with Belichick. The Patriots are sinking, and Bledsoe hopes to drown them.'
Coach Vs. QB: The Big Picture [5:30 AM]
Hartford Courant reports: '"One of the things that hurt Drew's chances of greater longevity in New England was the fact he liked to go deep," [Chuck] Dickerson said. "Some coaches just don't want to throw that damn thing up there. But it's more than that. Belichick decided that he'd depend on the defensive genius that he is, special teams, a running game he started to develop. I see it as an overall plan. Whether he was right or not, who knows? But he did go to the Super Bowl, did win and that's pretty heady stuff."'
Brady bunch meets Bledsoe's Bills [5:29 AM]
Springfield Union News reports: 'A loss, and the Patriots might need seven wins in their last eight just to retain playoff hope.'
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