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Looking ahead to Thursday night's season opener against the Indianapolis Colts, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe highlights the quarterback showdown between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, likening the pair's dynamic to that of Joe Montana and Dan Marino. "Brady's two Super Bowl MVP awards give him the edge in the sports argument over who's better. But Manning, at 28, certainly has a chance to do better than Marino, and perhaps could follow the career path of John Elway, who went out with back-to-back Super Bowl titles after losing in his first three championship game appearances," writes Cafardo.
Another story line receiving much fanfare leading up to the opener surrounds Colts head coach Tony Dungy, who was a catalyst for the off-season rule changes that many feel were directed at the Patriots. "I can say this now. I have never said -- or you'll never hear me say -- that those non-calls affected the outcome of our game in any way, shape, or form. Those guys beat us," Cafardo quotes Dungy as saying. "I would not taint New England's victory at all by saying there was anything to the calls or no-calls. I don't believe that and our players don't believe that."
Including Bill Belichick growing still more serious to Thursday night's star-studded musical lineup, Kevin Mannix of The Boston Herald points out "some sure signs the NFL regular season is upon us."
In The Providence Journal, Tom Curran examines what exactly has produced the Patriots success against the Colts in recent years. "History shows the Colts don't play as well against the Patriots as they do against the rest of their opponents. It's a bad matchup for them. They make mistakes from which they don't recover; their defense has lapses at crucial times," writes Curran. "The numbers prove it. The record proves it. The eyes of millions have watched it. That's the information we have. It's mattered before. Will it matter again?"
In today's notebook, Curran discusses Dungy, as well as Brady's views on his counterpart, Manning.
Also, in the Journal, Jon Goode takes a look back at the Patriots all time leading rusher, Sam Cunningham, who "played nine seasons (1973-82) with New England, rushing for 5,453 yards." Goode follows the feature with a glance at Cunningham's numbers.
Hector Longo of The Eagle Tribune previews the Patriots ever expanding offensive arsenal, and compares it to stables past. "The personnel disparity from (2001) and now in the offensive weapon department is gaping. And it goes a long way in propping the Patriots on the verge of an NFL dynasty in an era when the salary cap and free agency aren't supposed to allow that to happen," writes Longo.
Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call notes there will be added duties this week for Brady's backups, Rohan Davey and Jim Miller. "Miller and Davey have the unenviable task of simulating league MVP Peyton Manning so that the Patriots' defense can get a feel for what the Colts will try to do," Parente writes.
Parente also looks at the surprising achievements of Randall Gay, who as an undrafted free agent, defied the odds to make the Patriots opening-day roster. "Although it's unclear how many games he'll play, whenever Gay's on the field, he'll spend most of him time on special teams and occasionally serve as a nickel back, where he can showcase his ball-hawking abilities," writes Parente.
Jonathan Comey of The Standard Times reports on the Patriots practice squad, pointing out what can be an effective jumping off point for NFL hopefuls. "Take the case of offensive lineman Russ Hochstein. Hochstein was among the 10 final cuts in 2003, but was immediately re-signed to the five-man practice squad. Two weeks later, he was activated onto the roster, and ended up starting the AFC Championship game and Super Bowl," writes Comey.
Finally, The Cape Cod Times runs an AP article by Michael Marot questioning the role the referees will play Thursday night. "[Colts wideout Aaron] Moorehead believes the officials might call more penalties initially, if only because the enforcement policy received so much publicity during the offseason," writes Marot.
If you enjoy News Blitz, you might want to check out 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.