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Patriots.com News Blitz - 11/23/05

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe takes a look at the improvement of the K.C. Chiefs defense. Over the past three games, they've allowed an average of 244 total yards (60 rushing, 184 passing) from opposing offenses. Last time the Patriots and Chiefs met was Nov. 22, when the Patriots defeated the Chiefs on "Monday Night Football" in Arrowhead Stadium, 27-19.

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald offers a story on Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch. The Patriots No. 1 receiver has 55 catches, which ranks him sixth in the AFC and well within range of the leader, Cincinnati's Chad Johnson (61). Branch's 707 yards ranks him fourth in the AFC (Johnson has 997). With two more catches and 97 yards, Branch will set career highs. And at his current pace, Branch will finish with 88 receptions, which would rank as the fifth-most in Patriots history.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe offers a story on Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel. Cafardo writes that if there is a defensive MVP on the team, it would be Mike Vrabel, who currently leads the Patriots in tackles with 79. Over the past two games, the Patriots have stopped the run, holding the Dolphins to 77 yards and the Saints to 87 after allowing an average of 116 to that point. The return of Richard Seymour has a lot to do with that, but Vrabel is making plays and playing a much more physical game than he's ever had to do before.

Chris Kennedy of The Republican writes that the Patriots (6-4) have managed to rush for more than 100 yards twice this season, but they did piece together a decent enough attack in Sunday's 24-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints to give Tom Brady better opportunities to throw the ball and, consequently, take some pressure off the defense. The Patriots had drives of 93 and 98 yards against a weak Saints team, with the running game playing a role each time. Heath Evans finished with 74 yards and 16 carries, and Patrick Pass, coming off a hamstring injury, picked up 53 on 13. Evans has been a gift from free agency, producing in victories over Miami and New Orleans. "He has had a great opportunity here," quarterback Tom Brady said of the 6-foot-4, 250-pound fullback signed Nov.1. "He has come into a situation where a lot of guys are injured. He has really stepped in and made the most of it. So everyone is glad Heath is out there running. Everyone feels very comfortable with what he does."

Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger offers a story on the life of Steve Belichick.

USA Today's "Inside Slant" offers a story on head coach Bill Belichick's decision to not reveal to the team until after the game that his father Steve Belichick had passed away. Most of the joy from Sunday's 24-17 win over the New Orleans Saints evaporated in the Patriots' postgame locker room when coach Bill Belichick revealed that his father had died the night before. Belichick immediately left the team and returned to Annapolis, Md., where his dad had lived for much of his life. "It just shows you how much the guy loves the game," McGinest said. "For him not to say anything about anything and to be up all night and (have) that going through his head, you gotta take your hat off to the guy. ... For Bill to be here with us, that was special. That just shows you his commitment to this football team."

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes. Reiss also offers his latest mailbag where he answers your questions.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.

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