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.'
Drew's deal revisited [5:28 AM]
Springfield Union News reports: 'Belichick wanted to rid himself of Bledsoe, and where he went was probably less important than that he went. The home front was certainly quieter, less controversial after the deal was done. The only problem is that so far, Belichick's losses have been far greater than even he could have imagined. Bledsoe has been magnificent, and Brady has been scuffling.'
Bledsoe at the top of his game [5:27 AM]
Woonsocket Call reports: '"For us as a team, I think after we got through our first mini camp where we were all together, all the veterans were in here, I think we started to see that we had the talent to compete with anybody in the league," Bledsoe said. "That ultimately is our goal. It really is just that simple. What we want to do is we want to go out each week and try and play at a level that allows us to be in a position to win the game. I think to this point in the season, we've done that."'
Buffalo defense getting better by the Sunday [5:26 AM]
Woonsocket Call reports: 'Whoever bought tickets to Sunday's game between New England and Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium expected to see a dominant defense in action. Who would've guessed it'd belong to Gregg Williams' Bills?'
Top 5 reasons why the Patriots are struggling [5:25 AM]
Woonsocket Call reports: 'The Patriots aren't just playing bad football --they're also playing undisciplined ball.'
Bledsoe, Brady duel comes to a head [5:24 AM]
Manchester Union Leader reports: 'Prediction: Patriots, 24-21.'
Fisk got his revenge; will Bledsoe follow suit? [5:23 AM]
Manchester Union Leader reports: 'Defeating the Patriots, however, would be the sweetest revenge for the quarterback. Losing the game wouldn’t take away what Bledsoe already has accomplished this season. “I just wanted to show that I’m at the top of my game and playing in Buffalo is better than I could have imagined. I knew in preseason the talent was here,” he said.'
Parity not working for Patriots [5:22 AM]
Manchester Union Leader reports: 'There is nothing wrong with the Patriots. It’s called parity. Don’t you just love it?'
Belichick must find way to beat Bledsoe [5:21 AM]
Lowell Sun reports: 'Bledsoe has thrown 16 TD passes and only five interceptions while turning around the Bills around faster than anyone since the great Doug Flutie. How long before Bledsoe Bran is flying off Buffalo-area supermarket shelves?'
Sunday morning QB [5:20 AM]
New York Daily News reports: 'One GM who considered making an offer for Bledsoe but decided against it, said if the Patriots were willing to trade Bledsoe, it was an indication they didn't think he was a special player. "And if he's not special for you, why is he going to be special for me?" he said.'
Emotional Meeting [5:19 AM]
Syracuse Post Standard reports: 'Defensively, they have been ineffective against the run (five running backs have rushed for more than 100 yards) and porous inside the red zone (teams have scored 18 touchdowns on 22 possessions).'
Jones has emerged for Patriots [5:18 AM]
Syracuse Post Standard reports: 'Jones is fast, too, which is one of the things that appealed to the Patriots when they made him the 22nd overall pick of the 1998 draft. He had finished his senior year at Syracuse, his first at safety after switching from running back. Syracuse coaches and players had raved about Jones's athletic ability. He had size, speed, strength and a vertical jump that allowed him to take off from the free-throw line and dunk a basketball.'
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