Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe praises Tom Brady for his consistently fine performance, particularly under considerable pressure. "Brady has endured personnel changes, teams scheming against him, blitzes and stunts and all-out harassment, but he has still kept the Patriots afloat as the top team in the game, winning 23 of his last 24 games," writes Cafardo.
In his notebook, Cafardo revisits the near-tragedy that occurred when Tedy Bruschi made a tackle late in the fourth quarter Sunday night. As Bills back Joe Burns was brought down, Bruschi's right leg bent at a gruesome angle, causing many in the press box to turn away from the replay. Amazingly, Bruschi popped up after being attended to for a few minutes, and walked off the field under his own power. "He's all right because he has one of those rare bodies that lead teammates to call him 'Gumby,' writes Cafardo. "He has the flexibility of a ballet dancer or a gymnast."
Kevin Mannix of* The Boston Herald* dishes out his weekly grades, and as should be expected, the class did quite well this week. The running backs lead the way again, with an A mark, followed by the defensive linemen and linebackers, who received A's. The one weak spot, according to Mannix, was the special teams unit, who received a C for allowing a punt return for a touchdown.
Karen Guregian of the Herald gives credit to the often-unheralded offensive line for dominating the Bills up front this weekend. "Behind every successful running game and passing game is a good set of blockers, and the Pats' offensive line did yeoman's work giving [Corey] Dillon that first step, and allowing Brady time," Guregian asserts. "They were a force on the line of scrimmage."
In her notebook, Guregian reports on the Bruschi scare, the roughing-the-passer penalty against Rodney Harrison, and the fact Priest Holmes will likely miss next Monday night's tilt in Kansas City.
Steve Conroy of the Herald lauds the defensive unit, which harassed the Bills skill-position players all night and made a handful of big plays. "The Pats defense worked effectively as a unit. The run stuffers thwarted tailback Willis McGahee. When Bledsoe was forced to throw the ball, the pass rush made life miserable for him, contributing to the three picks he threw and helping to take some pressure off the young secondary," writes Conroy.
The Herald also runs another excerpt from Michael Felger's book, Tales From the Patriots Sidelines.
In The Providence Journal, Tom Curran contends the only two teams who have proven themselves legitimate, consistent winners are the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. Curran dismisses the 8-1 Pittsburgh Steelers, who beat both the Pats and Eagles this year, because of "maturity issues," citing Joey Porter's pre-game fight Sunday afternoon.
In his notebook, Curran covers the expected absence of Holmes, the amazing statistics of Dillon, and the injury to Asante Samuel.
Bill Reynolds of the Journal features the diverging paths of Tom Brady and the quarterback who showed him the ropes, Drew Bledsoe. "They are forever linked, the franchise quarterback and the sixth-round draft choice who would take his job," writes Reynolds. "The franchise quarterback and the sixth-round draft choice who would end up with two Super Bowl trophies, the two Super Bowl MVP awards, all of it."
In The Woonsocket Call, Michael Parente hands out his grades for the week. Most areas receive high marks, with only the special teams unit struggling. As Parente points out: "The Patriots were balanced offensively and solid defensively in Sunday's primetime showdown."
Parente covers the Bruschi near-injury, a play that had all of Gillette Stadium holding its collective breath. "He expects to play Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs," Parente reports. "Given his reputation as a hard-working, hard-nosed player, it'd be a surprise if he's not active. Bruschi missed the final four games of the 2002 season after hurting his knee against the Lions on Thanksgiving, but he doesn't think this injury is as serious."
Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant also reviews the play on which Bruschi was nearly injured, extolling the importance of Bruschi's presence on the defensive team. "That Bruschi was available for interviews in the locker room after the game and again early Monday afternoon was a clear sign that the big-play linebacker was OK," writes Greenberg. "Patriots who are seriously injured are rarely made available to the media."
Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News reports on the new high reached by the running game this weekend. "The Patriots rushed for 200-plus yards in a game for the first time in Bill Belichick's four-plus years as coach," Reiss points out.
In his notebook Reiss goes back to the Harrison penalty, and reports Belichick has admitted it was the right call. "When it happened, Belichick animatedly expressed his displeasure with field judge Boris Cheek, although yesterday his tone was much different," writes Reiss. Reiss also updates the Patriots statistics as well as the Bruschi play.
Tim Weisberg of The Standard Times compares Adam Vinatieri with the man he just joined in the 1000-point club, Patriots legend Gino Cappelletti. Cappelletti, who holds the franchise record with 1130 career points, achieved his mark with more variety than Vinatieri, playing wide receiver while also handling the kicking duties. "They'll forever be linked in Patriot lore -- one is the man who scored the first points in Foxboro Stadium history, the other the one who scored the last," writes Weisberg.
In his notebook, Ian Clark of The Union Leader covers the well-rounded play of the Patriots, Vinatieri's historic kick, the admirable play of the secondary, and one more pass from Bledsoe to Troy Brown.
If you enjoy News Blitz, you might want to check out http://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.