Ron Borges of The Boston Globe discusses kicker Adam Vinatieri's Hall-of-Fame potential. As Borges points out, the clutch kicker's numbers are on track to be as good as anyone's in history, but the Hall does not often hold open its doors to Vinatieri's ilk.
Nick Cafardo of the Globe spotlights linebacker Ted Johnson, who is experiencing a renaissance in his career as an accomplished run-stopper in the middle of the Pats defense. "He knows the NFL isn't forever. He feels he's lasted longer than most. And while he's never made a Pro Bowl, he is a player others look up to for the way he plays and the class he shows on and off the field," writes Cafardo.
In his notebook, Cafardo mentions the relationship between Bill Belichick and his Vice President of Player Personnel, Scott Pioli, as they return to Cleveland, the city in which they first got together. Cafardo also updates the injuries to Matt Light and others.
Bill Griffith of the Globe reviews the ratings from the Patriots-Ravens game Sunday, which are interesting in the wake of CBS' decision to move the game from 1PM to 4:15PM, in an effort to maximize viewers.
Rich Thompson of* The Boston Herald* looks back at a tough day for punter Josh Miller, who struggled mightily in the rain against Baltimore. "Miller had six kicks in the first half and averaged 32.7 yards. Two of those kicks only netted 16 and 15 yards. He finished with eight punts and a season-low 32.1 average," writes Felger.
Tuesday means Kevin Mannix of the Herald provides his grades for each Patriots unit. The running backs (read: Corey Dillon) and linebackers receive A's for their stellar play. However, in a stunner, the highest grade goes to the makeshift secondary, which received an A for stepping up in such a big way.
In his notebook, Thompson of the Herald explains the Patriots ability to run the ball was key to keeping the vaunted Ravens defense off-balance. Thompson updates the Light injury, and notes the pleasure Deion Branch is experiencing in his return. Thompson also reports that for the third straight week a Patriots opponent will be without a key component, as Cleveland Browns linebacker Andra Davis will be out for the remainder of the season.
Steve Buckley of the Herald looks back at Vinatieri's big day in the rain, noting the games played in inclement weather conditions tend to be the biggest for kickers. "The kicker, then, essentially becomes the star quarterback," writes Buckley. "And so it was at Gillette Stadium Sunday, as Vinatieri, acting as though the rain and the mud made for perfect football weather, kicked three field goals in the Patriots' 24-3 victory over the Baltimore Ravens."
Tom Curran of The Providence Journal details the continued success of Tom Brady. "Brady's ability to do it week-in, week-out with little variation in his performance constitutes greatness. Real and rare greatness. Especially when this team's weekly expectation is perfection and the margin of talent difference between the Patriots and their opponents is smaller than any other NFL dynasty has ever known," writes Curran.
Curran also features Sunday's performance by Miller, who, by his own admission, submitted a terrible performance. Miller, who was sensational until Sunday, could not seem to catch a break, punting out of bounds, into the end zone, and generally anywhere he was trying not to go.
Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant spotlights linebacker Don Davis, who has garnered attention for filling in admirably at safety to bolster the Patriots depleted secondary.
Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News also looks at Johnson, who looks at things with a more mature and disciplined eye than he did earlier in his career, an approach that has helped with his resurgence. "It's Johnson talking about his approach to the game, his expectations," writes Reiss. "Now in his 10th season, one of his best as a pro, the lens through which he views football is different than 1995 when he arrived as a rookie second-rounder from the University of Colorado."
In his notebook, Reiss recounts an exhausting two-week stretch for the Patriots. Reiss also reports a game ball went to Eugene Wilson, who shifted over to cornerback against Baltimore, and that Troy Brown has asked for more of a role in the punt return game.
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.