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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue May 21 - 02:00 PM | Thu May 23 - 09:55 AM News Blitz 1/14/05

The showdown is nearly here, and the excitement continues to build. By all indications, Gillette Stadium will be the sight of an absolutely epic battle between two of the NFL's best Sunday afternoon.

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe contends the Patriots coaching staff will need to devise an effective strategy to knock the Colts off their game. Obviously, the staff is well aware of the hot streak the Colts offense is enjoying and, as Cafardo says, expect the defensive scheme to be designed to throw Manning and company out of rhythm.

In his notebook, Cafardo reports the Gillette Stadium field has been given the approval of NFL officials, despite the rain and snow it endured this week.

Ron Borges of the Globe breaks down each position and attributes advantages. To no surprise, the Colts get nearly all the edges on offense, while the Pats get most of the defensive nods. Coaching, according to Borges, is even.

Kevin Paul Dupont of the Globe features offensive lineman Stephen Neal. Dupont discusses Neal's days as an NCAA champion wrestler, and the remarkable journey that has brought him to the starting lineup in Sunday's playoff game.

Amalie Benjamin of the Globe spotlights special teams monster Larry Izzo. Izzo, whose trademark is his ability to race downfield on kick coverage and butcher the opposing team's return man, will go to his third Pro Bowl in February.

Also in the Globe, Fluto Shinzawa writes on players the Patriots cut and resigned, like Je'Rod Cherry, and what it is like to live and play on the NFL fringe.

Mark Blaudschun reports from Indianapolis with a story on Colts coach Tony Dungy. Dungy, one of the more cerebral coaches in the league, was known for his defense when he came from offense-challenged Tampa Bay to Indy. Now, Dungy comes to Foxboro boasting the NFL's most prolific offense in history.

In his Colts notebook, Blaudschun discusses the Colts apparent indifference towards the New England weather.

Michael Felger of The Boston Herald covers the Pats defensive backs, who will be under both the microscope and heavy Manning fire come Sunday afternoon.

In is notebook, Felger praises the importance of third-string quarterback Jim Miller, who has been functioning as Peyton Manning in practice this week, in an effort to prepare the defense.

In his Colts notebook, George Kimball of the Herald covers the Colts penchant for indoor play, a Pro-Bowl nod for Colts tackle Tarik Glenn, and the sudden silence coming from kicker Mike Vanderjagt.

Steve Buckley of the Herald reports on the weeklong silence of running back Corey Dillon. Buckley says Dillon's silence shows he is more than ready to take to the field for his first career playoff game, but does suggest there may be a few jitters to come as well.

USA Today's Tom Weir looks at the Colts touchdown trio of Marvin Harrison, Brandon Stokley, and Reggie Wayne. Manning's three kamikazes are the only trio in history to all record 10 or more touchdowns in the same season.

Tom Curran of The Providence Journal examines Sunday's top storyline: the Pats banged-up secondary against the explosive Colts passing attack.

Shalize Manza Young of the Journal looks at the Colts defensive unit, an often-unheralded group that has gelled considerably over the course of the season.

In her notebook, Manza Young reports on the progress of recently signed cornerback insurance policy Hank Poteat, who is doing his best to get up to speed with the Pats playbook in one week.

Also in the Journal, Paul Kenyon has a nice feature on Patriots Football Weekly editor Bryan Morry, and what is entailed in the production of the team's official weekly publication, as well as this very website.

Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant reminds us of the Patriots not-so-secret weapon, kicker Adam Vinatieri, who has made the playoffs his annual opportunity for cementing his legend.

Also in the Courant, Greenberg covers newest Patriot Antwan Harris, also brought in to supply insurance at the corner position. Harris played 52 games for the Patriots in his last New England stint, but has not played in the league this year.

Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News features the long-standing friendship of Bill Belichick and Boston College's head football coach Tom O'Brien. When O'Brien began his collegiate coaching career at Navy in 1975, it was on the same staff as Belichick's father, Steve.

Ian Clark of The Union Leader provides his notebook, which covers the playoff experience of Vinatieri and Tom Brady, as well as the light mood witnessed in the Pats locker room this week.

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