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Patriots vs. Bears: Game Report

While the defense has been on show for most of the preseason, the offense took center stage tonight, as Rohan Davey, Patrick Pass and Dedric Ward exploded for 21 points in the fourth quarter, giving New England a 4-0 preseason record.



             While the defense has been on show for most of the preseason, the offense took center stage tonight, as Rohan Davey, Patrick Pass and Dedric Ward exploded for 21 points in the fourth quarter, giving New England a 38-23 win and a 4-0 preseason record.  

Bill Belichick called the game by far the team's most inconsistent performance in the preseason but the most important note is that aside from the usual dings and dents, the Patriots escaped these practice games with no major injuries to key players – always a concern in any preseason for every team.

For the first time in the 2003 preseason, the Patriots defense allowed a point in the first quarter. The Bears were able to put together a 61-yard drive in 10 plays ending in a Kordell Stewart to Marty Booker 5-yard scoring pass.

Rick Lyle started at nose tackle as Ted Washington was missing from the line-up, excused from the game for personal reasons given when he signed with the team.



             The Patriots struck right back on the next drive that ended with the first play of the second quarter, an 8-yard strike from Tom Brady to Troy Brown. Brady had sprayed the ball throughout the drive, hitting Deion Branch, Brown and David Patten for a total of 32 yards. After Kevin Faulk ran for 6 yards, R.W. McQuarters interfered with Patten for a gain of 18 yards bringing the action to the Bears 8. After two failed pass attempts, Brady finally found Brown for the score.  


             On the night, Brady's passing stats were 8 of 10 for 63 yards and a touchdown.  

Chris Chandler replaced Stewart on the Bears next drive and kept Chicago moving with a 6-play, 21-yard drive set up by a nice kickoff return by Ahmad Merritt that set up Chicago near midfield. The Patriots defense didn't allow much more yardage but it was enough for strong-legged Paul Edinger to be true on a 51-yard field goal attempt and a Chicago 10-7 lead.

The lead only lasted as long as the next New England drive. Earlier, Charlie Weis elected to work on the passing game. On this series, it was the ground game getting the work. Antowain Smith and Faulk shared the load downfield, often behind the blocking of fullback Fred McCrary. The key play came on fourth and 3 from the Bears 33 in which the Patriots went for the first down. The move paid off with Smith running off left tackle for a 10-yard gain. But on third and 6 from the Bears 8, a false start penalty on Tom Ashworth took the steam out of the drive and Adam Vinatieri wound up with a 31-yard field goal to tie the game at 10.

New England had a chance to take its first lead of the game on the second half's opening drive when Vinatieri lined up for a 42-yard field goal but his attempt was wide left. The drive began with a 59-yard kick return by Patrick Pass. Pass and Frank Moreau were doing the running at that point, with Rohan Davey under center, but New England could not get any further than the Chicago 24.

That old red zone magic popped up for the Patriots with a little over seven minutes left in the third quarter. With the Bears marching down the field and Rex Grossman at the helm, it looked like at least three points were inevitable when, on third and 1 from the New England 7, Dan Klecko rushed in from his right end spot and stripped Rabih Abdullah of the ball, who, up to that point had been running well. Leonard Myers scooped it up and went 93 yards for a 17-10 Patriots lead.

Grossman continued to look impressive, guiding his team once again into the Patriots red zone on his next drive. Once there and on first and 10 from the 22, he dropped back and pumped left, hooking the Patriots secondary, and then finding Ahmad Merritt in the end zone to tie the game.

Turnover follies continued as the third quarter wound down, but this time it was the Bears on the long end as Pass fumbled and safety Cameron Worrell recovered, going 30-yards for the score. Chicago attempted a 2-point conversion but was unsuccessful.

Down 23-17, the Patriots perfect preseason record-wise was in jeopardy, but after a shaky start, Davey began to settle down. His main weapons were Dedric Ward (5 catches for 100 yards) and Pass (30 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns), and the New England third-stringer put together three consecutive scoring drives. The first ended with a 21-yard end run by Pass; the second a 1-yard score, again by Pass. On the play, rookie Klecko did a nice job at fullback. Within the two drives, Ward had receptions of 36, 20 and 19 yards.

Following the game Pass was optimistic about his contributions, but was also realistic about the up-and-down aspects of his versatile performance.

"With me playing running back my rookie year and moving to fullback the last two years, I kind of know both positions," Pass said. "So it has kind of helped me along the way to get in there and play a little running back, get in there to play a little fullback or line up at wide receiver. I know the offense now and I am a whole lot more comfortable with it.

"Any running back or a quarterback wants to take back a fumble. That's something that we don't tolerate around here is fumbling the ball. But it happens. You have to tip your hat to the other team. They made a good play. But you have to also realize that, 'Hey I can't let that ball go.' You come back in the next series make some good runs, make some good plays and let that go. But we won the game, so that kind of eased the pain as long as we win. It's all about winning."

To cap off the New England scoring, Davey hit Ward for a 9-yard touchdown to make the final score 38-23. On that drive, Rod Trafford had a couple nice grabs for 10 and 19 yards and Moreau pounded the ball nicely when called upon.

Davey also took the good with the bad in his most extensive action to date.

"I think I could have played better, especially early in the ball game," Davey said. "I played all right in the second half, but the first half was…you know when you first come into the game you want to come out and make a statement and we really didn't do that offensively, especially when I was in. When the first group was in it was fine. I just have to come out and start faster."

On the whole, the atmosphere in the Patriots locker room following the final win in a 4-0 preseaosn was upbeat, yet realistically cautious.

"Buffalo doesn't care if we go 4-0 or 0-4 in the preseason," Rodney Harrison said. "It's time to step up to the plate and tend to your business."

That's it folks. The next one is September 7 against the Bills in Buffalo and it counts.

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