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Patriots.com News Blitz - 12/12/2006

Christopher Gasper of The Boston Globe reports on nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who left Sunday's game at Dolphins Stadium in the third quarter with an injury to his right leg. "He's one of the foundations of the defense," said defensive end Richard Seymour. "It starts in the middle, so obviously we want him back this week."

Albert Breer of the Boston Herald explains that if Wilfork's injury is serious, the Patriots would lose a major cog in the defense. "Vince is an integral part of this defense, no question about it," defensive end Ty Warren said. "He's the big fella who holds it down in the middle. Vince is Vince. There's no other Vince." Also included is a short piece on cornerback Ellis Hobbs.

Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal reports that Wilfork's status for the Houston game is unknown. McDonald explains that losing 6-foot-2, 325-pound defensive lineman Wilfork would be devastating for the Patriots. Also included are a handful of notes and quotes.

The Boston Globe's Chrstopher Gasper speaks with cornerback Ellis Hobbs about his limited playing time and reduced role in last Sunday's game. "I think that's all on me," said Hobbs, "as far as if I can prove I can play to the high performance level that I know I can in practice and not go out there and be a handicap to the team. Then I'll be out there." Also included are short pieces on defensive back Ray Mickens, Tom Brady and the offensive line.

The Boston Herald's Michael Felger offers his Patriots report card on the Miami game. Felger believes Miami's defense prepared for the Patriots by learning the calls for their formation adjustments. The receivers and offensive line get the worst marks, while Corey Dillon and the running backs played commendably, according to Felger.

[Ian Clark](http://www.theunionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Patriots Report Card: Not much to like from Pats Sunday&articleId=8b192b21-739c-44ce-ac4e-afb3f2f75636) of The Union Leader offers his Patriots report card. Clark notes that at least the white jerseys are undefeated on the road still. (The Pats wore their home blues at Miami last weekend.) According to Clark, the only unit that did better than average in this game was the running backs group.

Albert Breer of the MetroWest Daily News reports that it's been 18 years since a team sustained a loss as lopsided as the Miami game after Dec. 1 and rebounded to win a Super Bowl title. The 1988 49ers were the last to do it, falling, 38-16, to the Los Angeles Rams in their season finale before copping their third championship. "We take pride in trying to play flawless football in the month of December," said defensive end Ty Warren. "So, of course, it's bothering us, but at the same time, it's not the end of the world. We gotta keep on pushing."

Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald talks to a non-hysterical Tom Brady about the state of the team and their 9-4 record. "We've had 14-2 years," Brady agreed. "We've had a few years that probably spoiled us all a little bit."

Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald believes that Brady doesn't have the offensive weapons he needs this season. "Brady is physically stronger than ever," says Callahan. "He says he's healthy, and he certainly looked it against the likes of Green Bay and Minnesota. He did not get dumb or lazy overnight. He doesn't spend his offseason on the lake in Montana like Drew Bledsoe, or go hunting on gameday like Brett Favre. He still pours his heart and soul into the job, and he should be enjoying another Pro Bowl season. The schedule this season got easier, but his numbers got worse."

The Providence Journal's Joe McDonald reports that the Patriots are trying to move forward from their loss to the Dolphins. "It's a one-game season," said numerous Patriots players, word for word, yesterday, almost as though they were reading from a cue card. Before the Patriots started their six-day preparation process for their next opponent, corrections in every aspect of the game needed to be made yesterday. Those things -- penalties, turnovers, special teams -- were not just a problem against Miami; they've hindered New England the last couple of games, despite the winning record.

Jim Donaldson of The Providence Journal believes the end is in sight for the Patriots. It seems all but certain -- assuming a win this weekend over the troubled Texans, the team that passed on Vince Young (who beat them Sunday in overtime in Houston with a 39-yard TD run) and Reggie Bush as the first pick in the '06 draft in favor of defensive lineman Mario Williams -- that the Pats will be hosting a home playoff game in January. Donaldson doesn't believe the Pats will make it past the semifinal round of the playoffs.

Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant explains that the Patriots loss to the Dolphins seriously hurt their chances of getting a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs, a luxury reserved for No. 1 and 2 seeds. If the season ended today, the Patriots would be the No. 4 seed and would host the Bengals (8-5) in a first-round game on Jan. 6 or 7.

Rob Bradford of The Eagle-Tribune believes that the absence of running back Laurence Maroney seriously hindered the Patriots in the Miami game. Last season the Pats found lightning in a bottle (albeit for one half) against the Dolphins through the legs of fullback Heath Evans, who rushed for 84 yards on 17 carriers after Dillon left following just two plays. There was no such replacement this time around.

Jeanette Sears of The Sun Chronicle reports on the annual Troy Brown Celebrity Bingo night, which was held in the Fidelity Investments Clubhouse at Gillette Stadium last night. "I have been very lucky to have such a long career in the NFL and especially with the Patriots organization," Brown said. "There are so many people and charities out there that I am happy to do whatever I can to raise money and give exposure to a cause. I am happy to give back to a community that has always been so supportive of me."

The Boston Herald's Scott Van Voorhis reports that Gillette Stadium may be hosting a wider variety of events now that "The Razor" features durable FieldTurf rather than grass. Potential events include motocross racing and big college games. On the wish list is the annual Harvard vs. Yale University game, the Pats Dan Murphy said.

Jesse Noyes of the Boston Herald reports that Patriots owner and CEO Robert Kraft is a lead investor in Plum TV, a cable network aimed at affluent viewers that was founded in Nantucket. Plum TV runs on a handful of stations in ritzy resort areas, including Nantucket, the Hamptons in New York, and Colorado ski resorts Vail and Telluride. Programming includes a combination of weather and ski reports, resort information and local events.

Also, don't forget to check out USA Today's Inside Slant on the Patriots, updated today.

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