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Bruschi returns for Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Oct. 30, 2005) -- Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi started against the Buffalo Bills less than nine months after a stroke put his playing career in jeopardy.

Bruschi shared a tackle on the second play from scrimmage and then helped slow down Bills receiver Roscoe Parish for a 6-yard loss on a reverse. Each mention of his name over the public address system drew enthusiastic cheers.

Bruschi, 32, hasn't played since suffering a minor stroke three days after the Pro Bowl in February and 10 days after helping the Patriots win their third Super Bowl in four years. Although he said he would take a year off, he was put on the reserve-physically unable to perform list, which left open the possibility of his return after the sixth week of the season.

He continued to attend team meetings and his recovery went well enough for him to come back early. Doctors cleared him, he returned practice Oct. 19 and was activated Oct. 29.

Bruschi led his team onto the field for the pregame warmups, before most of the crowd was in the stadium. He sprinted down the sideline and across the field at the 40-yard line before taking off his helmet and receiving hugs and handshakes from teammates.

A deafening cheer greeted his pregame introduction, which was last for dramatic effect. The applause and foot-stomping shook the cameras, but not so much that fans watching the video board couldn't see Bruschi acknowledge them with a two-handed wave.

Bruschi joined the Patriots captains at midfield for the coin toss, getting a hug from former teammate Lawyer Milloy. When Bruschi came onto the field after the opening kickoff, the crowd chanted "Brew!" and he immediately took his place behind the line, pointing and shouting out calls.

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