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Patriots.com News Blitz 12/28/04

Now that the Patriots have secured the second seed in the AFC playoffs, and the inherent first-round bye, there is very little pressure heading into the regular-season finale against the lowly San Francisco 49ers. As Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe suggests, this Sunday might present a nice opportunity to rest some key players.

The Globe breaks down whom the Patriots might play in their first playoff game.

Dan Shaughnessey of the Globe contends this is the beginning of a three-week vacation, as the next meaningful game for New England will be Saturday afternoon, January 15th.

In his notebook, Cafardo details the messy return trip the team suffered through after the Jets games. Due to inclement weather in Boston that forced the closing of Logan Airport, the team deplaned in Newark and hopped a seven-hour bus ride back to Gillette Stadium.

In The Boston Herald, Kevin Mannix dishes out his weekly grades. As you might imagine, the marks are high once again. Tom Brady and each of the three defensive units all received A's from the Professor, but Mannix does point out that the running backs and offensive line left something to be desired.

Also in the Herald, Felger reports on the satisfaction of coach Bill Belichick, who is always a little happier after a division win.

In his notebook, Felger discusses the health of two very key Patriots defenders. Richard Seymour went down in the third quarter of the Jets game, and there has been no official word on his injury. However, Chris Mortensen of ESPN claimed the injury to be of the three-to-six week variety. Seymour joins star cornerback Ty Law on the injured list. Law, who has been sidelined since breaking a bone in his foot on Halloween, was fortunately held out of the Jets game, and will hopefully be ready for the playoffs.

Tom Curran of The Providence Journal looks back at the 2004 season and contends the team has looked like champions throughout. As Curran notes, the team did a good job staying humble and keeping everything in perspective, as Belichick made sure the players did not get caught up in the hype that comes with being defending champs.

In his notebook, Curran covers the injuries, the hairy trip home, and some rest for the weary.

Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant reports on the bus trip and Corey Dillon's new record. With his 89-yard day against the Jets, Dillon broke Curtis Martin's 1995 franchise record of 1,487 rushing yards, and now has over 1,500 on the year.

In The MetroWest Daily News, Mike Reiss looks at who might step up to fill the gaping hole left by the injury to Seymour. Vince Wilfork, Jarvis Green, and even rookieMarquise Hill are among those who may be asked to fill some of Seymour's defensive end duties.

Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call gives out his unit-by-unit grades for Sunday's game. Professor Parente gives higher marks that Professor Mannix, particularly to the running backs, who were awarded an "A." As Parente points out in his comments, Dillon ran for some tough yards against a highly ranked run defense.

In his notebook, Parente reviews the injuries, the miserable return trip from New York, and Dillon's new record.

Parente also features the Pats run defense, which has stepped up in recent weeks. Despite the departure of key cog Ted Washington, Parente reports the run defense has really come into its own over the course of the season.

USA Today has a feature on the latest sports cliche. "It is what it is" has been a favorite of Bill Belichick's for quite some time, and it seems to be popping up more and more in other sports.

If you enjoy News Blitz, you might want to check out 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.

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