Pats have risen, Bills flop [4:56 AM]
ESPN reports: 'The Patriots have been low-key this week regarding the first game against Buffalo. The players won't say it publicly, but they can't wait for an opportunity to pay back those Bills. Mostly, it's because head coach Bill Belichick has been using that loss all season long as an example of the Patriots' supposed vulnerability.'
Bills OG Brown excused from season finale [4:55 AM]
AP reports: 'Brown has three years left on a seven-year, $32 million contract, and is due to count $4 million against the salary cap next season whether or not he's on the roster.'
Brown Excused From Game, Not In NE [4:54 AM]
WGR-AM reports: 'Brown did not practice with the team all week and did not make the trip with the team to Boston on Friday. Bills Head Coach Gregg Williams is quoted as saying that Brown is, "not playing for personal reasons." Williams was quick to point out that Brown was not suspended.'
Living on the Edge [6:14 PM]
Lawrence Eagle Tribune reports: 'New England's defense, in addition to racking up a whopping 37 takeaways, is holding opponents to just 90.1 yards rushing and just 15.9 points a game. The number that leaps off the page is 37 -- as in 37 sacks.'
Return trip [4:06 PM]
Quincy Patriot Ledger reports: 'The Bills' bookend visit to Foxboro for the season finale will be the sad final chapter in a season that began on center stage, but is ending in irrelevancy.'
Critics should run the Pats' numbers again [11:59 AM]
Portland Press Herald reports: '"It's what the team produces and what you do in situations to win or lose the game, that's what it comes down to," said Belichick. "If one guy has 1,300 yards, or two guys have 1,300 yards . . . the perception is in one case you have got a great running game and the other case that these guys can't run the ball because they each have half of that . . .I just can't buy into that."'
Patriots sneak out to 13-2 [11:58 AM]
Nashua Telegraph reports: 'I think the Bills are going to be smeared like a bug on a windshield.'
Deeper than desire [11:57 AM]
Nashua Telegraph reports: '“It’s the same thing through the course of a football season. Sixteen regular season games is a long time – that’s a lot of snaps. Sooner or later, you’re going to need more than what it looks like you have in September when the season starts. You don’t always know where or what combinations, but sooner or later you’re going to need them, so you just try to prepare your team as best you can and react to the situations as they come.”'
Bledsoe takes stock of a season gone awry [9:20 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Bills need to determine whether they want to pay him $6 million in base salary next season and whether they want to pick up the final three years on his contract. If they decide he's not worth the money, he can become a free agent. They also could restructure the deal. One way or another, Bledsoe expects to be back next season.'
Last call [5:55 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: 'If you’re a loyal Bills fan, you’ll turn down the sound on the boob tube and jack up the volume on the radio broadcast because we will not hear his likes again.'
His first game near end of Ike's term [5:54 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: 'The top song in the country for the second straight week was I’m Sorry by Brenda Lee.'
Miller seeks Murphy as his successor [5:53 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: '“I think it makes all the sense in the world,” Miller said. “You’d replace one familiar voice with another familiar voice, and I know that Murph will do a fantastic job."'
Calls of the wild [5:52 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: '"It is bedlam. It is pandemonium. It is fandemonium."'
Team was able to right itself [5:51 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'How many people are surprised to learn that the Bills aren't going to the Super Bowl, Tom Donahoe is not the NFL's version of Red Auerbach, Drew Bledsoe is not a better quarterback than Tom Brady, and Bill Belichick is not an idiot? Come on, now. Honestly.'
Not much headway [5:50 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'The Bills said Bledsoe passed all neurological tests, including National Football League baseline testing. "The pros are paid incredible amounts of money to do what they do, and the quarterback is the team leader, but the brain is a bit unique compared to the knees and back," said Cantu. "There's just no question you should not be playing with a brain injury."'
Tough trade-off [5:49 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'Patriots fans frequently heard how Bledsoe's problems were the result of a shaky offensive line, or the loss of Curtis Martin, or the decline of Ben Coates, or the play-calling of Perkins/Kennan/Zampese. The excuse-making isn't nearly as pronounced in Buffalo, where the fans and media are mostly amazed at how long Bledsoe holds on to the ball and how much trouble he has against the blitz.'
A song in his lion heart [5:48 AM]
Providence Journal reports: '"He's a true professional," head coach Bill Belichick said. Nobody works harder or is more diligent or puts more into it than he does. He throws himself across the tracks and he does everything he possibly can for himself to be a good player."'
Team unity drives Pats' remarkable run [5:47 AM]
Providence Journal reports: '"We all show leadership in one way or another every single day," Belichick said earlier this week, while getting his 13-2 team ready for the regular-season finale against Buffalo. "You don't just stand in front of the team and be a leader. The way you go about your job and the way you contribute to the team provides some degree of leadership. I think every single person falls into that category."'
Patriots Vs. Patriots [5:46 AM]
Hartford Courant reports: 'But with the final game of the regular season and the postseason still ahead, having the NFL's best record is small comfort unless they can do what the 2001 team did.'
'D' truly teamwork [5:45 AM]
Springfield Republican reports: '"When I say team defense, it is that confidence both by the players and the coaching staff of knowing that pretty much everything is under control. I am not saying every play is a 5-yard loss, but every play is relatively under control, and you are not just holding on by your fingernails."'
Happy trails for Bills' classy voice [5:44 AM]
USA Today reports: 'Most lasting memory: "You'd have to go back to the '64-65 AFL championship teams," he says. "That's the last time a major league team from Western New York or Buffalo ever won the last game of the season."'
Brady faces old friend Milloy again [5:43 AM]
AP reports: '"I knew that they were going to be a good team," he said. "They are putting a lot of responsibilities on the corners, and the corners are really stepping up this year."'
Drew looks for two over Pats [5:42 AM]
The Sports Network reports: '"I don't have any prediction with that, really," Williams said of the chances of being back in Buffalo for the 2004 season. "Next week is next week. We'll sit down as soon as possible. We'll talk. We do that every year. We'll start two days after the season, tearing everything down. We'll go through every phase of it. [GM Tom Donahoe] and I have done that every year."'
Eleven heaven [5:41 AM]
The Sports Network reports: '"I think the depth on your team is important," New England head coach Bill Belichick said. "You never know when you are going to need it. It is kind of like when you buy insurance, you never know if you are going to have to use it or not, but if you have it and you need it, it is a good thing to have."'
Milloy expects emotional return to Foxboro [9:04 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"I'm envious of anybody that has a chance to go and win a Super Bowl," he said. "It's not because the New England Patriots are my ex-buddies. It's just because they are winning ball games. That's what it's all about for me."'
All Brady does is win, baby [9:03 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Brady is even more popular now than he was after leading the Pats to an unlikely Super Bowl win two years ago. He is Boston's most celebrated bachelor. He has a part in "Stuck on You," the new comedy by the Farrelly brothers. A national magazine recently compared him to Jimmy Stewart in "It's A Wonderful Life." He is the offensive leader for a team that takes an 11-game winning streak and 13-2 record into Saturday's regular-season finale against the Bills.'
Ruben Brown excused again; Williams practices [9:02 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'McGahee also is looking forward to teaming with Travis Henry in what could be one of the NFL's most formidable backfields. "It will be exciting," McGahee said. "We have a great team. We feel we can make a run."'
Travis Henry is forgotten man in Bills' passing attack [9:01 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Still, the Bills should have dumped off to Henry a lot more and found more ways to get him one-on-one in space. Even if defenses keyed on him and he averaged 3 yards a catch it would help Bledsoe and be better than the negative plays the Bills have had in the pass offense. The fact is Kevin Gilbride's offense is a wideout-oriented attack. Take this to the bank: Passes to the backs will figure much more prominently in the offense next year.'
Brown gives back to Salvation Army [5:15 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: 'Brown is undeniably one of the organization’s finest reclamation projects because as he was barreling through puberty, the Salvation Army literally provided salvation for an impressionable teenager who could have easily strayed down a dangerous path littered with trouble every step of the way.'
Bledsoe: pockets of trouble [5:14 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'His teammates are even losing patience. Moulds called Bledsoe's 12-for-24, 114-yard, no-touchdown, two-turnover performance Sunday "the worst I've seen him play." After one sack late in the first half, one on which Bledsoe pump-faked and took an elongated stride, Ruben Brown went ballistic and shouted toward the sideline, though it was unclear whether his frustration was directed at Bledsoe. Brown went off again on the sideline. The bottom line: Bledsoe has been sacked 100 times in two seasons as a Bill (the same number of times he was brought down in 1999 and 2000, his last full seasons as a starter for the Patriots) and they weren't all on the line.'
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