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Patriots.com News Blitz 10/5/04

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe raises an interesting debate: "Is the offense leading the team, or is the defense?" Cafardo goes in-depth on both sides of the ball in an attempt to flush out this discussion.

In his notebook, Cafardo examines the injuries plaguing the wide receivers, and looks ahead to Sunday's home game against Miami.

In The Boston Herald, Kevin Mannixgives out grades to the individual units for their play this past weekend. "They're still making mistakes that will cost them against a good team. They're turning the ball over near the goal line. They're into double digits in penalties. They're giving up serious chunks of yardage, both on the ground and in the air," writes Mannix.

Steve Conroy of the Herald features one of Sunday's stars, Tedy Bruschi, who made arguably the game's most important play when he knocked the ball loose from Drew Bledsoe before it was scooped up and returned for a 68-yard touchdown by Richard Seymour. "Bruschi established his position on the team as a rookie and has displayed an uncanny penchant for making game-breaking plays ever since," writes Conroy. "He did it again Sunday in Buffalo when, on fourth-and-3 at the Patriots' 17-yard line with the Bills driving for what could have been a tying score late in the fourth quarter, he broke through the line of scrimmage."

Rich Thompson of the Herald looks ahead to the Miami game, pointing out that the Dolphins have a penchant for rushing the quarterback. Thompson is also quick to point out that such a strategy did not exactly pay off for the Bills this past weekend. "The Bills blitzed Patriots quarterback Tom Brady an astonishing 42 times from all angles and paid a heavy tariff for their misadventurous behavior," writes Thompson. "Brady torched the Bills, completing 17-of-30 passes for 298 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, posting a quarterback rating of 112.9."

In his notebook, Thompson reviews the poor special teams play, injuries to the receivers, and Ty Law's impressions of the Dolphins 1972 undefeated season.

Michael Gee of the Herald notes the confidence that can be seen in many Patriots fans that, he says, "are acting like they've been there before. They ooze serenity. Dare I say it? Now they're like Yankees fans," writes Gee.

In The Providence Journal, Tom Curran reviews the play of Brady, and writes that he is only growing more dangerous. "Brady right now is sending opposing defensive coordinators reaching for antacids. Sit back in coverage and he will absolutely shred you," writes Curran. "Blitz him and he shuffles around or shakes it off or unloads at the last second and shreds you still."

Kevin McNamara of the Journal shines the spotlight on Bruschi, who is garnering much well deserved praise for his play this weekend. "Bruschi's heroics, especially late in a game, are so routine they seldom surprise either his teammates or coach Bill Belichick," writes McNamara.

In his notebook, McNamara shows that Brady, at least statistically, is off to the best start of his career.

In The Hartford Courant, Alan Greenberg discusses some of the ways the Patriots keep their focus on a game-to-game basis, and how they avoid getting swept up in the surrounding hype the way the fans do.

Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News notes the growth the offense has enjoyed, evolving from a conservative, short-passing team during their first Super Bowl run, to the versatile, high-powered juggernaut they are now. "As Sunday's 31-17 victory over the Bills showed, this is no longer an offense that zig-zags, but instead one that is comfortable taking big-time shots deep downfield on a defense. A lot of them. And the success rate has been impressive," writes Reiss.

In his notebook, Reiss lauds the Patriots ability to convert on third down. "The Patriots are ranked third in the NFL in third-down offense, having converted 18 of 35 chances (51.4 percent). Naturally, this pleases head coach Bill Belichick," writes Reiss.

In The Woonsocket Call, Michael Parente looks at the big play made by offensive lineman Stephen Neal, who replaced Russ Hochstein in the starting lineup. "Neal, who never played football in college, made an instinctive play in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Buffalo Bills that saved the New England Patriots from losing the lead -- and perhaps their first game since last September," writes Parente.

Parente also gives out his grades to the individual units. "Belichick was proud of his team on Sunday, but knows more work needs to be done," writes Parente.

If you enjoy News Blitz, you might want to check out www.bostonsportsmedia.com where Bruce Allen also offers links to what the media is saying about the Patriots as well as the other Boston sports teams. Allen also includes commentary on the media and does a good job holding everyone accountable.

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