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Buffalo Bills News - December 15, 2001

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."'

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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.'

Marker Pat Williams dealing with sitting out [8:55 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'He will miss his first game in three years Sunday when the Bills host the New England Patriots.'

Marker ESPN's Take: Patriots won't look past Buffalo [8:26 AM]
ESPN reports: Simply, if the Patriots lose one game, they could miss out on the playoffs. The Patriots need to secure a playoff spot, something Bill Belichick will emphasize. The Bills will not roll over for the Patriots. Alex Van Pelt has upgraded the Bills' offense. He brings a Jim Kelly attitude and toughness to the team. He is pushing the ball down the field.

Marker John Clayton Report Card - Bills: D [8:06 AM]
ESPN reports: It's scary to think that Alex Van Pelt has done better running the West Coast offense than injured Johnson. Worse, the Bills didn't answer the question that RJ is the right QB for the franchise. In other words, because of the salary cap and questions about RJ, it has been a wasted year. The Bills are five games worse than a year ago at 2-10. The defense underwent a dramatic transition and is surrendering 43 yards more per game. Some players are grumbling about the offensive scheme. It has been a tough year for first-year coach Gregg Williams.

Marker Smith finds new life with revived Patriots [5:35 AM]
D and C reports: 'He was a good-looking first-round draft pick in 1997, a 1,000-yard rusher in 1998. Then he hit a wall. Splat.'

Marker No introductions are needed [5:34 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'You don't see the individual dances and gyrations of players as you would from opposing players during introductions. That's the way the Patriots want it.'

Marker Phifer vs. Centers [5:33 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'Roman Phifer is considered the Patriots' best cover linebacker, and he'll have his hands full against Larry Centers, one of the best receiving running backs ever.'

Marker When call came, Van Pelt was ready [5:32 AM]
Boston Globe reports: '''I think the biggest thing from '97, when I got three starts that year, is the offense we are running,'' he said. ''The `West Coast' is something I was very familiar with from college and I really enjoy running, and I think that's helped a lot in our success.'''

Marker Switch turns on Patriots' D-line [5:31 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'Because of a rash of injuries to the linebacker corps, coach Bill Belichick switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 alignment a month ago. After seeing the results, he's not likely to switch out of it anytime soon.'

Marker Ex-Bill braces for a reunion [5:31 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'So why didn't Buffalo, under new coach Gregg Williams, try to keep Smith? ''I don't know,'' he said. ``The last two years there I was getting weeded out a little bit. I wasn't really getting the chance to go out there and help the team. So I think the best thing for both of us was just to part ways and move on.'''

Marker Vrabel an outside influence [5:30 AM]
Boston Herald reports: '``Mike is a smart guy,'' said coach Bill Belichick, who scouted Vrabel out of Ohio State five years ago and kept tabs on him during his days in Pittsburgh. ``He is a hard-working guy. He trains well, he's in top condition and football is really important to him."'

Marker Patriots' quiet man makes presence felt [5:29 AM]
Providence Journal reports: 'Both on and off the field, Mike Vrabel is the Patriots' quiet linebacker.'

Marker Belichick's view: Focus on finish line [5:28 AM]
Providence Journal reports: '"The only thing that matters," the coach told his players, "is when they cross the finish line . . . Sometimes you are ahead and get further ahead, sometimes you are behind and you catch up. That is what it is about. It is about where we finish, not where we are in the middle of December. Right now, it is Buffalo. That's it. 9-5. That's all we can do anything about. There's where we want to be."'

Marker Compton is the glue on Pats' offensive line [5:27 AM]
Worcester Telegram and Gazette reports: 'The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Compton is New England's starting left guard. It's his first year in Foxboro, but his ninth in the NFL. So, while he's a new guy on the block, he has brought stability to an unstable situation.'

Marker Outside linebackers solid [5:26 AM]
Springfield Union News reports: 'With inside linebackers Bryan Cox and Ted Johnson hurting in recent weeks, the Patriots have played more 4-3 defensive fronts. Vrabel and Phifer have manned the outside spots with Tedy Bruschi, who is playing superbly of late, in the middle.'

Marker Holiday time to take break [5:26 AM]
Springfield Union News reports: 'How does Belichick know when to push and when to pull back? "I think one thing I would gauge it on is that if I'm feeling (tired)," he said, "then everyone else is probably feeling worse."'

December 13, 2001

Marker An intersting tidbit from TMQ [2:04 PM]
Slate reports: Hidden Indicator Player: The Bills are cover-your-eyes awful now, but this time last season they were 7-4 and pounding Tampa on the road. Then the above-cited Sam Cowart, who some purists felt was having the best season of any NFL defender last year, including Ray Lewis, went down for the count with a knee. Buffalo honked its lead in Tampa and spiraled toward the water for the remainder of 2000. In this season's opener, Buffalo was pounding New Orleans, holding the Saints to one first down in the first half. Then Cowart was lost for the season to another injury; the Bills again honked and spiraled toward the water. Since Cowart joined Buffalo, the team is 28-17 when he plays, 3-14 when he does not.

We're All Professionals Here: Warming up on the sidelines, Buffalo punter Brian Moorman missed the kick-catch net.

Marker There's no hocus-pocus, just a whole lot of focus [1:43 PM]
Portland Press Herald reports: 'We viewed them as underachievers the last couple of seasons. This year we view them as overachievers.'

Marker Belichick's motive is motivation [1:42 PM]
Lowell Sun reports: '"It's about where we finish, not where we are in the middle of December," said Belichick. "Right now it's about Buffalo (on Sunday in Buffalo). That's all we can do anything about."'

Marker QB's best friend: Good night's sleep [1:41 PM]
Quincy Patriot Ledger reports: "Getting rest and making sure I am getting enough sleep is something Drew (Bledsoe) had told me seven weeks ago," Brady said. "He said, 'Hey, Tom, make sure you really get your rest and eat well and take care of your body because you can wear down pretty easily.' I've noticed that."

Marker Bills wrap up home slate against Patriots [11:17 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: Both starting QBs for New England and Buffalo have been injury-injured. For New England, virtually unknown Tom Brady's 8-3 mark as a starter has him in the starting role likely for the rest of New England's season. Van Pelt recorded his first win as a starter since 1997 Sunday, he has performed very well and kept Buffalo's offense moving well in three of their last four games.

Marker Bills host party for top readers [11:10 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: Bills tackle Jonas Jennings and safety Keion Carpenter will host the winners of the 2001 Rush for Reading Challenge at the Paul Maguire Club at Ralph Wilson Stadium from 6:00 - 7:00 PM on Wednesday, December 12th.

Marker Van Pelt led Carolina comeback ranks fourth in Bills history [11:06 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: Ven Pelt has joined Frank Reich and Todd Collins in the record book. The 18-point deficit overcome marked the fourth largest regular season comeback in team history and the largest since coming back from a 26-0 deficit vs. Indy on 9/21/97 by Todd Collins.

Marker Bills' 'Shop with a Jock' a success [10:08 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: With the help of Galyan's and the Buffalo Bills, local children affiliated with the Salvation Army were given the opportunity to 'Shop with a Jock' Tuesday evening. The event benefited 42 children and ran early Tuesday evening at the Walden Galleria Galyan's sporting goods store.

Marker Smith revives career with Patriots [8:58 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"I do have confidence in my line, knowing they're going to come off hard and hit their blocks, which allows me just to think about running in there hard."'

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09/07 @ Chicago Bears 1:00 pm
09/14 Miami Dolphins 1:00 pm
09/21 San Diego Chargers 1:00 pm
09/28 @ Houston Texans 1:00 pm
10/05 @ Detroit Lions 1:00 pm
10/12 New England Patriots 1:00 pm
10/19 Minnesota Vikings 1:00 pm
10/26 @ New York Jets 1:00 pm
11/09 Kansas City Chiefs 1:00 pm
11/13 @ Miami Dolphins 8:25 pm
11/23 New York Jets 1:00 pm
11/30 Cleveland Browns 1:00 pm
12/07 @ Denver Broncos 4:05 pm
12/14 Green Bay Packers 1:00 pm
12/21 @ Oakland Raiders 4:25 pm
12/28 @ New England Patriots 1:00 pm

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