Jackie MacMullen of The Boston Globe features two-way warrior Troy Brown, and extends effusive praise for his sacrifice. "It's work. Strip away the novelty, and it's exhausting and physically taxing and sometimes you wonder if the whole thing doesn't border on the absurd," writes MacMullen. "Who becomes a defensive back after 12 years in the league?"
In his Pats notebook, Kevin Paul Dupont of the Globe reports on Bill Belichick's positive comments regarding the Chiefs offense, Rodney Harrison's views on the Monday Night Football promo scandal, and the continuation of Tedy Bruschi.
Michael Felger of The Boston Herald reports Belichick's opinions of the scandalous pre-game MNF promo, which featured Terrell Owens with a naked actress. Belichick asserted he agrees with Colts head coach Tony Dungy, who took the NFL and ABC to task for what he deemed to be extremely offensive material. "Belichick didn't specifically address the most controversial portion of Dungy's comments, that the skit had racially offensive overtones. But Belichick did make clear what direction he feared the NFL was headed by mentioning the XFL - the short-lived, pro wrestling-style league that sold itself on sex and violence," Felger reports.
Felger also spotlights Tom Brady, who will appear on The Tonight Show with David Letterman this evening. Felger discusses Brady's play this season, which has been, at times, sloppy and inconsistent. Felger is quick to point out, however, that Brady has always made his living doing it when it counts. "Brady has never been a prolific, end-to-end quarterback," writes Felger. "His career has been marked by periods of brilliance that punctuate longer periods of middling play. The hallmark of Brady's career has been making the big throws when they count the most, whether they be at the end of the half, at the end of a game or in the Super Bowl."
In his notebook, Felger previews the Monday night showdown in Kansas City, describing the Chiefs accurately as a team with an explosive offense, but a defense so dismal it explains the Chiefs 3-6 record.
Tom Curran of The Providence Journal wonders, like many around the league, how a team with so many weapons can be 3-6. Curran breaks the Chiefs down, and explains a number of the factors that have brought last year's playoff team so low. "They are getting killed by bad breaks. They can't create turnovers (they were plus-18 in turnovers last year at this point; now they're minus-5). They have done average return work on special teams after a brilliant 2003 and poor coverage work on special teams (17.2 yards per punt return)," writes Curran.
In their notebook, Curran and Paul Kenyon chronicle heady times for Adam Vinatieri, who just passed the 1000-point mark for his career, and leads the NFL in scoring. "Vinatieri has made 16 straight field goals, tying his own mark for the second-longest streak in team history. He is 24-for-24 on extra points. He has not missed a kick of any kind since the game against Miami on Oct. 10, when he had his only miss, on a 47-yard field-goal attempt that was wide right." Curran and Kenyon also discuss the rise in Brady's yards-per-attempt and yards-per-completion, as well as the Corey Dillon factor.
Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call previews Monday night's game, which has to be considered a must-win for Kansas City. "Since the Patriots won't play the Chiefs until Monday night, Belichick has used the extra day to study film from every Kansas City game since the start of the season," reports Parente. "He's noticed a reoccurring theme - these guys can score whenever they want, regardless of the opponent, the formation or the situation."
In his notebook, Parente covers Harrison's comment on the T.O MNF skit, the powerful play of Tully Banta-Cain, and the absence of Chiefs star back Priest Holmes. Parente also makes an interesting connection, noting it will be the first time Harrison and Chief's quarterback Trent Green have shared the same field since Harrison blew out Green's knee on a tackle in an exhibition game, ending Green's 1999 campaign. That injury, which occurred when Green played for St. Louis, paved the way for the rise of Kurt Warner as well as the Rams winning of Super Bowl XXXIV.
Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant highlights the play of Banta-Cain, another late-round pick by the Patriots to make a contribution to the team's success. Banta-Cain played on the defensive line in college, and has been shifted to linebacker by the coaching staff here. Though he sees most of his action on special teams, he saw significant game action last weekend, and certainly made the most of it. "He sacked Drew Bledsoe on the last play of the second quarter and teamed up with linebacker Rosevelt Colvin to sack Bledsoe again early in the fourth," writes Greenberg. "When rookie J.P. Losman, making his NFL debut, replaced Bledsoe late in the game, Banta-Cain intercepted him - the first interception of Banta-Cain's and Losman's NFL careers."
In his notebook, Ian Clark of The Union Leader features defensive back Earthwind Moreland, who received his first NFL start last Sunday against Buffalo. "After going from the practice squad to the roster to his first NFL start in less than two weeks, Patriots cornerback Earthwind Moreland has become a popular interview subject not only for his name (his parents were fans of the popular 1970's R & B group Earth, Wind and Fire), but for his sudden rise to prominence," writes Clark. Clark also updates the injury report, discusses the MNF controversy, and previews the kick-return showdown between two of the league's best: Bethel Johnson and KC's Dante Hall.