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Patriots.com News Blitz - 1/2/2007

John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports that safety Rodney Harrison has a sprained MCL in his right knee, noting that he's expected to miss the playoff opener this Sunday, possibly the entire postseason. Harrison was hurt after being blocked by Tennessee's Bobby Wade in the second quarter of Sunday's season-ending 40-23 victory over the Titans. He left the field under his own power and after the game walked himself out of the stadium.

Shalise Manza Young of The Providence Journal takes a look back at some of the highs and lows during the Patriots 17-week regular season. Check it out for info on players like: Junior Seau, David Thomas, Doug Gabriel and more.

Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe recaps the last two meetings between the Patriots and the Jets, explaining that this third matchup of the season will be the rubber match. The Patriots won the first meeting (in the Meadowlands) and the Jets took home a win after battling it out in the mid-November mud at Gillette Stadium. This weekend's game will be played at Gillette, like the last loss was, but the Patriots have installed FieldTurf since. "We haven't lost on the new turf. So maybe it was a grass problem," said Brady after defeating the Titans. "We're back in the AFC East for our biggest challenge of the year," Belichick said. "Eric Mangini, his staff, and entire team are doing a phenomenal job. The Jets are playing extremely well, as we are well aware based on the last time we faced them."

John Tomase of the Boston Herald also recaps the Patriots two regular season meetings with the Jets. This one's formatted in a point-by-point analysis.

Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant takes a look at the upcoming Jets game, while recalling some subplots of earlier meetings. The Patriots, AFC East champions for the fifth time in six years, are the AFC's No.4 seed and have been installed by the oddsmakers as 9-point favorites. The Jets are the No.5 seed, having earned a wild card berth thanks to their victory over the Raiders Sunday and the 49ers' overtime victory over the Broncos in Denver.

Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe previews the Jets-Pats game, focusing on the relationship between coaches Belichick and Mangini, both Wesleyan men. In 1995, Mangini got his first taste of pro football when he served as an assistant under Belichick with the Browns. Mangini was 24 years old. From 1997-99, Mangini worked under Belichick with the Jets. When Belichick became HC of the NEP, he brought Mangini to New England and they won three Super Bowls together. Mangini was New England's defensive coordinator last year.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald offers a look at the rivalry between the Patriots and the Jets. The Jets began remaking themselves in the Patriots image last winter when they hired Mangini, a Belichick disciple. The Pats former defensive coordinator stocked his team with ex-Patriots (Matt Chatham, Tim Dwight, Hank Poteat, Bobby Hamilton), brought a number of former Pats as assistant coaches, and changed the culture. The Jets rebounded from a 4-12 finish last season to go 10-6 and position Mangini as a serious coach of the year candidate.

According to Christopher Gasper of The Boston Globe, New York Jets tight end Chris Baker succinctly summed up the state of the rivalry that exists between the Jets and Patriots, football's version of the Hatfields and the McCoys, which will now play out with the teams meeting at Gillette Stadium in a playoff game Sunday. "It's Round 3," said Baker. "My approach is no different. My feelings are no different," said Mangini, who led the Jets to a 10-6 mark in his first season as an NFL head coach. "I respect and appreciate all of the things that he's done for me throughout the course of my career, and that's never going to change. My feelings are not going to change one bit, and they have not changed from the first time to the second time, this time next year, hopefully years in the future it's not going to change."

Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call takes a look at the upcoming game, touching on a few Jets-Pats subplots. "I think we're going to have a big challenge next week and we're going to have to play our best football going forward," Belichick said. "That's what it's going to take." The battle for bragging rights between New York and New England has been a part of NFL folklore since the Patriots' inaugural season in 1960, but it intensified after Parcells switched sides in 1997. With one of the game's most prolific coaches set to face his former disciple for the third time in five months, this longtime rivalry is as passionate as it's ever been.

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald offers his Patriots report card, explaining that the next month will show whether the Pats are made up of enough talent, but when it comes to character, there should be no questions. The quarterbacks, running backs and receivers all got grades worth putting on the fridge.

[Ian Clark ](http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Patriots Report Card: Flying high as Jets' visit looms&articleId=17ab8a14-6c7b-4bd5-8ee6-df9620f32754)of the Union Leader also offers a Patriots report card on last weekend's game.

Rich Garven of The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports that the Patriots are heading into the playoffs with momentum. "If you have gotten to this point and you are playing next week, then you have the capability of winning with some regularity," safety Artrell Hawkins said. The Pats quietly won 12 games. Only two Patriot squads won more since the franchise was founded in 1960. The Super Bowl championship teams of 2003 and '04 both went 14-2 in the regular season. The Patriots were an NFL-best 7-1 on the road (along with the Bears). They were 5-3 against teams that finished .500 or better and 2-2 against playoff qualifiers, besting the Bears and Jets and losing to the Colts and Jets.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports on the postgame fumings of both the Patriots and the Titans following last weekend's game. The Titans were incensed that the Patriots allowed 43-year-old third-string quarterback Vinny Testaverde to throw a 6-yard touchdown pass to receiver Troy Brown in the final two minutes, with linebacker Keith Bulluck particularly outraged. On the other side, the Patriots believed Bobby Wade targeted safety Rodney Harrison with a dirty block. The Pats were further incensed when they spotted the receiver mocking their fallen teammate.

Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe offers a piece on rookie wideout Chad Jackson, who had 22 offensive snaps in Sunday's game against the Titans. "It feels pretty good," Jackson said. "Just show the coaches and the fans out there what I can do. I'm able to help this team with the abilities I got right now. I want to go out there and just do more."

The Romney administration is jumping into the controversy over ticket scalping, explains Bruce Mohl of The Boston Globe, but doing so in a way that will leave any final decision to the incoming administration of Governor-elect Deval Patrick. Lawmakers on Beacon Hill say they plan to revamp the state's ticketing laws, but even as they move closer to filing legislation, the antiscalping law has become the focus of several lawsuits. The New England Patriots and San Francisco ticket reseller StubHub Inc. have sued one another, each claiming the other is violating the antiscalping law.

USA Today offers it's Inside Slant on the Patriots, updated today.

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