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Buffalo Bills News - December 16, 2001

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.'

Marker Road to AFC East title goes through Buffalo [6:29 AM]
Quincy Patriot Ledger reports: 'The Bills face all three contenders for the division title, starting Sunday against the New England Patriots, who are 11/2 games behind the division-leading Miami Dolphins.'

Marker Patriots' Antowain Smith Succeeding in Second Chance as Starter [6:29 AM]
Bloomberg reports: '"It'll be kind of strange coming back in a different uniform, but at the same time, I look forward to the challenge," Smith said. "I always knew I could do it. It was just a matter of getting with a team that has faith in me."'

December 14, 2001

Marker Hey sport! [4:21 PM]
Blue Dog Press reports: 'The bottom line in all of this? Sports fans in the region are getting royally screwed by owners who raise ticket prices, but fail to put winners on the ice and on the field. It's time for Ralph Wilson (the Bills) and John Rigas (the Sabres) to put their mouths where their money is. Fans deserve more than the smell of victory, they need to see it.'

Marker Patriots poised to exploit Buffalo's problems [4:18 PM]
Niagara Falls Reporter reports: 'Things couldn't have changed much more over the past year for the Buffalo Bills or the New England Patriots. Almost a year to the day after their last visit to Orchard Park, the Patriots come into Sunday's renewal of a rivalry that dates to 1960 as one of the National Football League's hottest teams. The Bills, meanwhile, are just trying to salvage something, anything from one of the worst seasons in franchise history (and if you count last week's crawl-back against equally pitiful Carolina as 'something,' may you find a "Best of Joe Dufek" videotape under your tree). Last year, Buffalo hosted New England just one week removed from playoff contention, while the Patriots were hoping to tack their fifth win on to a season nearly as dreadful as this one has turned out for the Bills. That game turned into the Snow Globe Bowl, a 13-10 New England win in overtime played under conditions better suited for an Antarctic expedition. Coming into this year, few predicted the speed and angle of Buffalo's demise. Even fewer expected New England to compete for anything higher than fourth place in the AFC East. And that was before Drew Bledsoe got hurt.'

Marker Smerlas Ceremony Moved [11:30 AM]
Bills Daily reports: The Bills have changed their minds and have decided to move the Fred Smerlas ceremony to halftime instead of before the game. The Marv Levy and Jim Kelly ceremonies earlier this year were also at halftime.

Marker Irvin handles adversity [8:56 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'A starter since 1998, Irvin has made a sudden and stunning drop on the Bills' depth chart.'

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09/13 Indianapolis Colts 1:00 pm
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