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Patriots.com News Blitz 12/22/04

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe addresses the team's most glaring weakness: the injury-riddled secondary that allowed two late touchdown passes in Monday night's loss. Cafardo discusses the need for Ty Law, who is very close to coming back from a broken foot. Law would like to play this weekend, as Cafardo reports, but it remains to be seen when he will return to the field.

Ron Borges of the Globe steps in to debunk the growing theory that Charlie Weis' Notre Dame hiring had anything to do with the Patriots ugly loss. As Borges is quick to point out, Weis went only to Notre Dame on slow or off days, and had no discernible absence from his more important duties as Pats offensive-coordinator. Furthermore, do not forget that Tom Brady gave the ball away four times, including twice in the last four minutes.

In his notebook, Cafardo dissects the struggling special teams unit, one that has surrendered a plethora of yards as of late. Cafardo also reports that Dan Klecko's father, Joe, will have his uniform retired by the Jets during Sunday's game, a game that will feature a match-up of two top-tier running backs. Both Curtis Martin and Corey Dillon have topped the 1400-yard plateau this season, and Dillon needs but 58 yards to surpass Martin's franchise records for yards in a season.

Rich Thompson of The Boston Herald looks ahead at the rest of the Patriots schedule, asserting it is a necessity that the team forget Monday night's debacle, and focus on securing a first-round bye.

Kevin Mannix of the Globe dishes out his weekly grades, and the results are not pretty. Once again, the running backs received a high mark, but there are multiple D's and F's going out to the other units.

George Kimball of the Herald takes the optimistic rout from Monday's loss, suggesting the team can learn a very valuable lesson from the defeat in Miami.

Steve Buckley of the Herald rushes to the aid of Brady, who he says is taking unnecessary heat for his mistake-plagued performance in Miami. After all, as Buckley asks, cannot even the finest of championship quarterbacks have a bad game?

Tom Curran of The Providence Journal says the Patriots weaknesses are really starting to show. They show outwardly now, but as Curran notes, the team has been keenly aware of them for weeks, evident by their weekly self-bashing.

Skip Wood of USA Today writes the Pats are slipping just as most other teams are raising their level of play - not the most favorable phenomenon as the playoffs draw near.

Like others, Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant breaks down Monday night's loss to identify the Patriots various weaknesses.

Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News delves into the special teams situation, highlighting the fact the team is 29th in the league on kick return defense, and 28th in punt return defense.

Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call gives his unit-by-unit grades for the South Beach stumble. While Parente is a bit more forgiving than Professor Mannix, he is harsh where he has to be: on Brady, the special teams, and the secondary.

In his notebook, Parente looks at the developing playoff picture, the traditional struggles that befall Brady against the Dolphins, and the good news that the team emerged from Monday night's game virtually injury-free.

Parente also discusses the potential Weis distraction. While Parente does note it was Weis' prized pupil who threw the game away on offense, he also makes clear that the defense did nothing to stop Miami quarterback A.J Feely.

Peter King of SportsIllustrated.com looks at the Pats loss in the context of playoff positioning, and notes the team most enabled by the defeat is the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers could leap over the Pats with a win over the Colts and a New England loss to the Jets.

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