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Patriots.com News Blitz 11/23/04

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reviews the game, praising the Patriots for their continued ability to grab a lead with a strong start. "The Patriots silenced the crowd on their first possession, tying a record held by the Miami Dolphins for scoring first in 18 consecutive games," writes Cafardo. "New England took the opening kickoff to its 29 and marched 71 yards in 10 plays, the drive culminating in a 5-yard run by [Corey] Dillon, who scooted around the left end untouched."

Jackie MacMullen of the Globe credits the defense for anchoring the team's tough win in a difficult road setting. "Above all, they resort to their football intelligence when the environment is hostile, the game is close, and air is ripe for an upset," writes MacMullen. "There's a reason New England is 9-1 this morning, and Kansas City is 3-7."

Ron Borges of the Globe reports on the brilliant return of Deion Branch. Branch had not been seen since he was injured in Week 2 at Arizona, but returned to be the team's leading receiver Monday night. "Branch ran, cut, and generally acted as if he'd never missed a beat, finishing the evening with six catches for 105 yards and a 26-yard touchdown catch in which he made a sharp cutback behind a block from Troy Brown less than two minutes after the Chiefs had slashed New England's lead to 17-13," writes Borges.

Joe Sullivan of the Globe features defensive tackle Ty Warren, who sacked Chiefs quarterback Trent Green twice. Warren has been a solid performer for the Pats this season, and continues to make strides towards proving his worth as a 2003 first-round draft pick. "First-round draft picks are expected to develop into stars, of course. Warren hasn't become one yet, but he's filling an important role, and after last night he has 3 1/2 sacks this season," writes Sullivan.

Marcus Fuller of the Globe highlights the Patriots defensive performance against the run. The Chiefs, with either Priest Holmes or Derrick Blaylock in the lineup, have been able to run largely at will this season. The Patriots defense put a stop to that, allowing only 64 rushing yards on 20 carries. "The Patriots' defensive game plan was pretty obvious. They were going to concentrate on shutting down Holmes's replacement, Derrick Blaylock, and let the Chiefs throw like crazy," writes Fuller.

In his notebook, Cafardo lauds the play of Dillon, who was displeased with himself for fumbling on the goal line. Despite the fumble, Dillon shined with 98 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Cafardo also discusses the patchwork secondary and roster moves made before the game.

Michael Felger of The Boston Herald reviews the game, noting the Patriots ability to withstand outside factors such as hostile crowds and injuries, and simply get the job done on the field.

In his notebook, Felger contends this may be the last time we see much of cornerback Earthwind Moreland, who was torched in his second NFL start, after filling in admirably last week. "After giving up two touchdowns and several big plays in the Pats' 27-19 win over the Chiefs, Moreland was one of the first players to leave the locker room at Arrowhead Stadium last night. Time will tell if he's welcomed back," writes Felger. Felger also praises the play of Warren and Daniel Graham.

Kevin Mannix of the Herald says Pats fans have much to be thankful for after last night's win. Mannix acknowledges there are weaknesses due to injury, but the plays that needed to be made were made. "Once again, they found a way to overcome their own inadequacies as well as a premium offense to run up another victory. That's what Patriots fans should be concentrating on this morning," writes Mannix.

Rich Thompson of the Herald reviews Dillon's game. Though Dillon was clearly disappointed with his one miscue, his ability to pound the ball continued to open up the passing game and give the Patriots an incredibly balanced attack.

In The Providence Journal, Tom Curran provides the game review. "The Patriots had to do a bit of holding on in this one," writes Curran. "Playing for the third game without either of their starting corners, Green feasted on Patriots corners Randall Gay, Asante Samuel and Earthwind Moreland. If the Chiefs weren't so slippery-fingered, they could have racked up even more yards as Kennison dropped a long pass and Johnnie Morton dropped what could have been a touchdown pass in the third."

In his notebook, Curran reviews the return of Branch, whose unique style added diversity to the Patriots receiving corps. "The waterbug quick third-year receiver was terrific in his first game back from injury, catching six passes for 105 yards and a scintillating 26-yard touchdown," writes Curran.

Curran also spotlights Adam Vinatieri, contending the clutch kicker has created a Hall-of-Fame resume, with seemingly plenty more kick in the tank. "So far, Vinatieri's missed just one kick in 2004, a 47-yarder against the Dolphins. Rebounding nicely from a so-so 2003, in which he battled a balky back, Vinatieri entered this weekend leading all NFL kickers with 93 points," writes Curran.

Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call reviews the game, pointing to the Patriots ability to execute sustained, time-consuming drives as a key to the victory.

In his notebook, Parente covers the stellar return of Branch, the end of the Rabih Abdullah era, the Priest Holmes-less Chiefs, and the bus bashing the Patriots experienced on their way to the team hotel.

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