In The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo reviews the game. "By virtue of a 29-6 win over the Bills at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots kept pace with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the best record in the AFC at 8-1," writes Cafardo. "They also went two games up on the New York Jets in the East Division."
Bob Ryan of the Globe notes the Bills disappointed after coming into the game on an upswing, with the alleged ability to play the Pats tough. "The Wise Guys said this one might be a challenge, but this time the Wise Guys were wrong," Ryan writes. "What the sellout crowd at Gillette Stadium and the ESPN audience saw last night was a Big Brother/ Little Brother mismatch."
Ron Borges of the Globe looks at the fading star Drew Bledsoe, and asserts it is time for the former Patriots captain to hang it up. "Bledsoe, like the great old heavyweight Evander Holyfield, has become a sad imitation of what he once was in the six straight years he threw for 3,500 yards a season or more and produced the majority of his 22 fourth-quarter comebacks," writes Borges.
In the Globe's notebook, Cafardo and Jim McCabe laud the toughness of Corey Dillon, who returned from a first-half injury to top the 150-yard mark on the ground. Cafardo and McCabe also discuss the playing of Earthwind Moreland over Asante Samuel, some mop-up duty for Rohan Davey, and the impressive snow-removal job done by the crew at Gillette Stadium.
McCabe writes on a second-half play that reunited a quarterback with one of his favorite old receivers. When Bledsoe played in New England it was more than commonplace for him to hook up with receiver Troy Brown. "Last night at Gillette Stadium, the pair was reunited on a pass play that once again brought joy to the Patriots faithful, but, oh, how different the circumstances were from days gone by," writes McCabe.
Kevin Paul Dupont of the Globe gives credit to a Tedy Bruschi-led defensive unit* *for taking control of last night's game. "It might not have been smashmouth defense -- the kind of shock and awe the Patriots used last season when they clicked off three shutouts over one seven-game stretch -- but it was New England's most effective display of "D" in '04," writes Dupont.
Also in the Globe, Frank Dell'Apa points out the busy day had by Adam Vinatieri. "Vinatieri kicked five field goals in a 29-6 win over the Buffalo Bills, confirming his dependability but also indicating flaws in the Patriots' offense, which stalled at the 9-, 6-, 2-, 27-, and 20-yard lines," Dell'Apa writes.
The Patriots had some very special guests on the field before the game last night: a Red Sox contingent led by Curt Schilling and an amped-up Johnny Damon.
In The Boston Herald, Michael Felger handles game review. "The victory halted the Bills' two-game winning streak and further separated the Pats from their pursuers in the AFC East," writes Felger.
In his notebook, Felger discusses the solid performance by Vinatieri, one that made him only the second player in Patriots history to top the 1000-point mark. "Vinatieri has been terrific all season, hitting 23-of-24 field goal attempts. He's also improved his kickoffs, which was apparent on the first play of the game when his boot sent returner Terrence McGee into the end zone," Felger writes.
Kevin Mannix of the Herald praises the efficiency of the offense, a unit that acted quickly to take control of the game. "Dillon, Tom Brady and the rest of their friends had the ball for 12 series in the game," writes Mannix. "Five ended in field goals, two in touchdowns. In the first half, when the game was decided, the Pats went on scoring drives of 75, 81 and 91 yards to take a 20-0 lead into the locker room at halftime."
Rich Thompson of the Herald highlights Brown's interception, a play that goes hand-in-hand with the obvious fact he is making strides as a defensive player. "Along with the interception, Brown was credited with a pass-defended on Moulds. On offense, Brown caught a pair of Brady passes for 23 yards," writes Thompson.
Karen Guregian asserts Brady remainsthe league's top quarterback, despite the record-setting numbers and stunning debuts we have seen from some of the other signal-callers. "There's also that special quality of being able to make things happen with the game on the line, that unique ability that's earned him Super Bowl MVP notice - twice. None of the quarterbacks getting all the ink right now can lay claim to that," writes Guregian.
Dan Ventura of the Herald describes the difficult homecoming for Bills safety Lawyer Milloy, who played his first seven seasons in Foxboro, before his release prior to the 2003 campaign.
Steve Buckley opines on the changing demeanor of local fans, citing last night's convocation of baseball and football champions. "It makes sense. For two of their last three Opening Days at Fenway Park, the Red Sox have dutifully paid homage to the Patriots' Super Bowl championship teams, going so far as to add the touch of having the grid boys step out from behind that giant American flag that gets draped from the top of the Green Monster for such special occasions," writes Buckley.
In The Providence Journal, Tom Curran reviews the game. "Even though the Bills are a road-challenged outfit, this was even more lopsided than anticipated," writes Curran. But pregame promise of a competitive game vanished quickly as the Patriots bottled-up ballyhooed back Willis McGahee (11 carries, 36 first-half yards) and marshaled three long scoring drives against the normally stingy Bills' defense."
Jim Donaldson of the Journal adds himself to the growing number of analysts who believe the end to be near for Bledsoe. "Brady, who had been Bledsoe's understudy when he came to New England in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, came out on top once again last night, beating Bledsoe and the Bills for the fifth time in six games since Drew was shuffled off to Buffalo," writes Donaldson.
Shalize Manza Young of the Journal agrees with the contention that Buffalo did not live up to their pre-game billing, and were completely overmatched by the defending champions.
Paul Kenyon of the Journal discusses what could have been a disastrous injury, as Bruschi went down late in the second half with a horrific looking twist of the knee. "Bruschi had become involved in a pile in the center of the field as he tried to make a tackle, and his body had been bent awkwardly backwards, with his feet pinned under him," writes Kenyon. "Trainers came out on the field and the game was delayed as Bruschi was examined."
In his game review, Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call gives credence to the idea that Bill Belichick has Bledsoe's number. "Bill Belichick's not in Drew Bledsoe's head. He's in his nightmares," writes Parente.
In his notebook, Parente points out the great service done by the Baltimore Ravens, who knocked off the New York Jets yesterday, helping the Patriots pad their lead in the AFC East. Parente also discusses the Red Sox and the injuries on both sides of the field.
In his notebook, Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant examines what went right (everything), what went wrong (one special teams punt return), and the injury situation.
Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News believes the game was won in the second quarter, as the Pats outscored the Bills 17-0 in the period in which they have allowed the most points this season.
Reiss also delves into the Bledsoe story. "Never mind that 12-year veteran has traditionally struggled against Patriots coach Bill Belichick (5-10 record), perhaps the fitting question now is if Bledsoe will have a chance to face the doctor of defense again. With rookie J.P. Losman, a first-round pick out of Tulane waiting in the wings, Bledsoe's benching could be imminent," muses Reiss.
Dan Pires and Tim Weisberg provide a full notebook in The Standard Times, touching on all the appropriate areas.
The same goes for Mike Lowe of The Portland Press Herald, who reviews the challenge on the opening kickoff, Vinatieri's milestone, and the Pats ability to score first.
In his notebook, Ian Clark of The Union Leader looks at the top teams, Pats included, and forecasts the stretch run and playoff seedings.