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Patriots.com News Blitz - 1/18/2007

Jackie MacMullan of The Boston Globe offers a report on cornerback Ellis Hobbs, who was the target of Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and running back LaDainian Tomlinson following his midfield celebration at the end of last weekend's game. Rivers even called him "The sorriest corner in the league." Hobbs is a 23-year-old, second-year player.

Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe explains that this upcoming game should be respectable. "I know there is mutual respect -- their players have a lot of respect for us, we have a lot of respect for their players and coaches," quarterback Tom Brady said. "It should be just one of those classic games.

Mike Reiss offers The Boston Globe's Patriots Notebook, which includes stories on safety Rodney Harrison, recent injuries and illnesses and rookie defensive back Willie Andrews.

Christopher Gasper of The Boston Globe features Colts safety Bob Sanders, who's returned to the Colts defense after being plagued by injuries most of the season. Gasper compares Sanders to Pats safety Rodney Harrison.

Christopher Gasper offers The Boston Globe's Colts Notebook, reporting from Indianapolis. Included is a piece on the Colts defenders believing they are in Brady's head since they intercepted him four times in their last game, as well as other notes.

Steve Buckley of the* Boston Herald* features now-Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, who according to Colts tight end Ben Utecht, has been a leader in the locker room this season.

Boston Herald writer Steve Buckley has a feature on Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney. He's putting it on the record that he absolutely "hates" the Patriots. "I hated the Patriots," he said. "I was a big Giants fan, and the fact is the Patriots weren't that good back then. I was always a Mets fan, a New York Giants fan."

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald takes a look at the relationship between Brady and Head Coach Bill Belichick. "Sometimes, Belichick and Brady sound alike. That's how close they've become, and how much one has influenced the other," explains Guregian.

John Tomase of the* Boston Herald* explains that the Pats are better equipped to handle the Colts in this, their second meeting of the season. That's because receivers like Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney are on the same page as Brady now, which should limit the aggressiveness of Colts safety Bob Sanders in the running game. He also explains that Rodney Harrison went down in the beginning of that game, leaving the Pats defensive backs scrambling to fill in.

The Boston Herald's John Tomase offers his Patriots Notebook, which includes Brady's thoughts on the Patriots postgame celebration at midfield last week, along with other notes.

Albert Breer of the MetroWest Daily News reports that the Colts have been solid at home in the RCA Dome. Over the last three years, the Colts have gone 24-3 (including playoffs) at home, and the reasons are obvious. Playing under the roof disrupts an opposing offense, highlights speed and accentuates the passing game.

Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal explains that leading up to a game, the Patriots and Belichick are extremely cordial. There's been no deviation from the norm this week. "Once the game is underway, however, things will be different. Over the last few years, the Patriots and Colts have become esteemed rivals, and come Sunday it won't be any different," writes McDonald.

The Providence Journal's Joe McDonald reports on the successful seasons of Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri and Pats kicker Stephen Gostkowski. "It'll be predecessor versus successor. Adam Vinatieri versus Stephen Gostkowski. The Legend versus the Rookie," predicts McDonald.

Bill Reynolds of The Providence Journal details what's at stake for Colts QB Peyton Manning in this game. A lot, it seems.

Alan Greenberg of the* Hartford Courant* also reports on Manning, explaining that the veteran gunslinger has improved his emergency passing. He's demonstrated improved passing on the run this season.

Alan Greenberg offers the Hartford Courant's Patriots Notebook, in which he writes, "Don't expect to see safety Rodney Harrison in uniform for the AFC Championship Game on Sunday." Included are additional notes.

Chris Kennedy of The Republican discusses the Patriots strengths and weaknesses entering this game. Strengths? Namely the Pats bolstered receiving corps.

Eric McHugh of The Patriot Ledger features wideouts Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney. "No one is saying that Gaffney and Caldwell have graduated to the level of Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison," writes McHugh. "Through two rounds of the playoffs, though, the New England Patriots' low-profile duo has bettered their more accomplished Indianapolis counterparts in combined catches (30 to 16), yards (337 to 180) and touchdowns (2 to 1)."

Glen Farley of The Enterprise features Patriots tackle Matt Light, who basically shut down NFL sack leader Shawne "Lights Out" Merriman last weekend.

Mark Farinella of The Sun Chronicle features linebacker Mike Vrabel, who discusses the rivalry between the Pats and Colts, preparation for the upcoming game and the fact that he and Tedy Bruschi are now in their 10th NFL seasons.

Tom King of The Telegraph features defensive end Richard Seymour, who hasn't played in the AFC Championship game in a long time. He missed the last one, in January of 2005 with an injury. "It was definitely tough to watch, but I came back in the Super Bowl and I had fresh legs," Seymour said.

[Marc Thaler ](http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Pundits pick on the Patriots&articleId=ef7f37e7-617f-4d26-9404-a2717ca21c9d)of The Union Leader explains that Indianapolis' mayor Bart Peterson has given the Patriots some bulletin board material entering this game, though the Colts players refused. Thaler also offers NFL pundits thoughts and predictions.

David Brown of The Standard-Times reminds you that Brady is 10-0 in domes, and "his 12-1 postseason record is only the greatest of all time, in case you missed that fact in the avalanche of awe that has spilled over Brady since he performed his latest miracle — and probably qualified for sainthood — against the Chargers."

Michael Parente of* The Woonsocket Call* explains that the Colts defense has come alive in the playoffs. "They've gone from unbearable to unstoppable in just two short weeks," he writes.

Don't forget to check out USA Today's Inside Slant on the Pats, updated this morning.

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