Emotional rescue from Bruschi
PHILADELPHIA -- Tedy Bruschi had one of those "emotional" weeks. You couldn't find too many players more upset about the loss of Lawyer Milloy and the effects on the team.
had a nice series on the Giants next possession (from outside linebacker),
getting to Ron Dayne for a 1-yard loss on first down and then hitting Dayne
again in the backfield while teammate Ty Warren cleaned up for another 1-yard
The players can feel
the intensity level already being turned up a notch, said Patriots' veteran
linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
He's embarking on his eighth NFL season and has a Super Bowl ring on his finger, but Bruschi still gets butterflies every season.
"I still feel the same way the first day of training camp as I did when I was a rookie," he said yesterday after an afternoon practice at Gillette Stadium. "It's like, 'Do I still have it?' before you make that first collision. Then you make the first collision and it's like, 'OK, it's another year.' I'm sure it will be that way for the first game because it's been a while, especially for me. I missed the last four games of the season (injured knee). So I'll be especially anxious."
Linebackers a solid group
By Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff, 8/10/2003
It probably means absolutely nothing at this time of the preseason, but after watching a dominating performance by New England's Rosevelt Colvin Thursday night and then seeing Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman scorch a very old-looking and confused-looking Junior Seau Friday in a win over the Dolphins, you'd have to think "Advantage: Patriots." Three of the four AFC East teams picked up a "trophy" linebacker in the offseason. The Bills got what many perceive to be the best all-around one in Takeo Spikes, formerly of the Bengals, but Colvin certainly looked as good against the run as he is a pass rusher, stripping the ball from Tiki Barber to set up the Patriots' first score in their 26-6 win over the Giants
Seau, who was an All-Pro with the San Diego Chargers for many years, is still a rough and tough player, but if you can make him cover, which is what Tampa Bay did, you might be on to something. Pittman, in particular, burned him on a 28-yard reception in the first quarter on Tampa Bay's first scoring drive.
Seau told reporters after the game, "I was yelling pass all the way and then I took my eye off him for a second and he ran a chair route."
The Dolphins said they didn't do much game-planning for those routes and if it had been a regular-season game, they would have been more prepared. Nobody doubts that. And nobody doubts what's in Seau's heart. It certainly was a lousy way to start his Dolphins career, but the good news is that it really doesn't count, and two months from now nobody will remember it (unless such plays become a frequent occurrence).
The Dolphins, who have eight Pro Bowlers on defense, had two touchdowns scored against that first-string defense, while the Giants could manage only two field goals against the Patriots. Granted, the Bucs are the defending Super Bowl champions, but they are known more for their defense.
Certainly it's tougher to play the Bucs out of the gate than the Giants, who didn't have Michael Strahan or No. 1 pick William Joseph, but it's still a psychological advantage for the Patriots, who need every edge to win the division.
Linebackers certainly will be a focus of the AFC East. Colvin, Seau, and Spikes will be under a microscope all season, but don't forget the guys around them.
While Colvin got the attention Thursday, the work done by Tedy Bruschi had to be a thrill for the Patriots' coaching staff. Bruschi is a key element in the team's linebacking scheme because he can give you so many different looks. When he was drafted out of Arizona in the third round in 1996, Bill Parcells made the former defensive end a jack-of-all-trades. He was considered too small to be a full-time lineman in the NFL, so he was used as a situational pass rusher and moved around at different spots before he proved, in the Pete Carroll era, that he was an every-play linebacker.
Against the Giants, Bruschi was used as a defensive tackle in the "dime" packages, going up against guards that had about a 50-pound advantage on him. When the Patriots decided to go with a 3-4 defense, some observers thought Bruschi might be the odd man out, but that hardly seems to be the case.
"I just needed to go out there and reestablish myself," said Bruschi, who turned 30 in June and missed the last four games of the 2002 season after injuring his knee in the Thanksgiving game in Detroit. "It had been a long time for me. It just felt good to go out and do my job and help the team win.
"When you're injured and on the sideline, it's hard to feel you're contributing. I just wanted to work hard this offseason and in training camp to get myself back to where I was and even better."
In Miami, it's Seau who will get the attention but the heart and soul of the defense is Zach Thomas. In Buffalo, Spikes should be a great player, but don't forget Jeff Posey, the other free agent linebacker they picked up, who can also get after the quarterback. The Bills unveiled their new guys last night against the Baltimore Ravens.
"When you looked at free agency this offseason," said Bills general manager Tom Donahoe, "the most talented position available was linebacker. Teams had a need for a good linebacker -- and some of them play a little differently than others -- and you saw that teams in our division went after them."
In a 3-4 set, the linebackers obviously need to shine -- not to mention stay healthy. Mike Vrabel, Roman Phifer, and Ted Johnson all had good games for the Patriots against the Giants.
In addition, it looks as if Matt Chatham, who has been mostly a special teams player, has made strides as a linebacker, and the Patriots also have experienced veterans in Don Davis and Larry Izzo, so they are protected in case of injury. Willie McGinest, too, probably will get some linebacker duties when he returns, and seventh-round pick Tully Banta-Cain also may see action.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.
object to loss of Lawyer
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who came into the league with Milloy as a member of the 1996 draft class, was also curious how five months could pass without a resolution. ``Has it ever been this quiet in here?'' Bruschi asked. ``I don't think it has. I think `shocked' is the word. When the most prominent player here in the last five or six or seven years is gone, you sort of shake your head and ask why. I don't see how they couldn't have worked it out, to tell you the truth. I wish they would have.''
“As hard as it is we are going to
have to [get ready to play,]” linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. “I am a bottom line
type of guy and I am a factual type of guy and the facts are that Lawyer is not
here. It's not by our choice. There isn't anything we could have done about it,
but Lawyer is probably going to be with another team pretty soon. So what can we
do about it? There is nothing we can do. There is nothing we can do about the
moves they make up top. The only thing we can control in here is playing good
football. And that's what we have to do and focus on being 1-0 and beating the
Buffalo Bills. That's it. That's all.”
by Peter King, Sports Illustrated 9/15/03 issue
....Probably nobody was more disappointed than Bruschi, one of the most dedicated players in the NFL. "I'm not as fully committed to the Patriots as I was to my team at Arizona or Roseville (Calif.) High," he said last Thursday. "(The Patriots) took a franchise player and kicked him to the curb five days before the season." He paused, then continued more passionately. " I wish--I wish-- it was the old days in this game, and I could put my heart on the line for something. But how do you do that in a place where guys who've established what this team is about just come and go?"
01:00 AM EDT on Saturday, September 13, 2003
FOXBORO -- The lingering effects of Lawyer Milloy's departure continue to swirl around the Patriots and likely will continue to do so until they can win a game.
The latest controversy, albeit one created by a media report, focuses on linebacker Tedy Bruschi's remarks in this week's Sports Illustrated. Bruschi is quoted as saying he'll have trouble putting "my heart on the line" for the Patriots after seeing what happened to Milloy.
"I'm not as fully committed to the Patriots as I was to my team at Arizona or Roseville (Cal.) High," he told the magazine. The Pats "took a franchise player and kicked him to the curb five days before the season."
He went on to say, "I wish -- I wish -- it was the old days in this game, and I could put my heart on the line for something. But how do you do that in a place where guys who've established what this team is about just come and go?"
Asked about his remarks yesterday, Bruschi didn't take back any of his words but did concede, "I was emotional. Last week was an emotional week. Listen, the Patriots are my team. It's the only team I want to play for and it's the only team I ever want to play for."
Coach Bill Belichick said he hasn't read the story but was apprised of Bruschi's words and wasn't about to turn on one of his most important players.
"I heard about it," he said. "I think Tedy is one of our most committed players, one of our team captains. He has a terrific attitude. I'm glad we have Tedy Bruschi on our team. I think they guy's a good football player and I like him."
If the Patriots stumble again at Philadelphia on Sunday, some media and fans will likely point to the Milloy Affair as the cause of the Pats' troubles. Belichick, however, scoffs at that idea.
"We've moved on. That's the best way to put it," he said.
Undermanned club keeps options open
Bruschi tempers words
Tedy Bruschi backed off strong comments he made in this week's Sports Illustrated in the wake of the Milloy release. ``It was an emotional week,'' Bruschi said yesterday. ``There's no team I'd rather play for than the Patriots.''
Last Thursday, Bruschi told SI: ``I'm not as fully committed to the Patriots as I was to my team at Arizona or Roseville (Calif.) High. (The Pats) took a franchise player and kicked him to the curb five days before the season. I wish . . . I could put my heart on the line for something. But how do you do that in a place where guys who've established what this team is about just come and go?''
Belichick responded to the comments as he has to all others uttered by players over the last week - with acceptance. Belichick has not forbidden his players from speaking out about Milloy.
Instead, he is letting the issue run its course.
``I think Tedy is one of our most committed players,'' Belichick said. ``He is one of our team captains. He has and continues to have a terrific attitude. I am glad that we have Tedy Bruschi on our team. I think the guy is a good football player and I really like him.''
Onus on players now
......To that end, Tedy Bruschi, who voiced the most critical response to the Milloy move in this week's edition of Sports Illustrated - it was the most public and open cry of outrage during a week of veiled slams by players - vowed yesterday the team was finally focused and ready to move on.
``I can look at you and honestly say (I've moved on),'' said Bruschi, who explained his remarks were made in the heat of the moment. ``All we want is to play the Philadelphia Eagles and just win. That's it. I don't care about any of the drama that happened last week, because it was last week.
``After the (Buffalo) game, I said I couldn't wait for Philly. The only way to remedy any kind of defeat is to get back out there on the field and win a game. And that's what I look forward to doing.''
full article: http://www2.bostonherald.com/sport/patriots/kg09132003.htm
Belichick may stand pat at 52
Coach has options for roster opening
Change of heart
Responding to inflammatory remarks he made about his employer -- which released team leader Lawyer Milloy -- in a recent Sports Illustrated article, linebacker Tedy Bruschi laid it on the line. "Last week was emotional," he said. "The Patriots are my team and it's the only team I want to play for. I'm an emotional person. I've played for the Patriots for eight years and I don't want to play for another team." Bruschi wasn't spouting the company line last Thursday, when he told an SI reporter, "I'm not as fully committed to the Patriots as I was to my team at Arizona or Roseville [Calif.] High. [The Patriots] took a franchise player and kicked him to the curb five days before the season. I wish -- I wish -- it was the old days in this game, and I could put my heart on the line for something. But how do you do that in a place where guys who've established what this team is about just come and go?" Asked if he read Bruschi's comments, Belichick said, "No, I kind of heard about them. I think Tedy is one of our most committed players. He is one of our team captains. He has, and continues to have, a terrific attitude. I am glad that we have Tedy Bruschi on our team. I think the guy is a good football player and I really like him." . . .
MICHAEL PARENTE , Sports Writer 09/14/2003
PHILADELPHIA -- Patriots
linebacker Tedy Bruschi continues to make noise off the field. Just days after
publicly criticizing his team in a magazine article for cutting Lawyer Milloy,
Bruschi fired back at Milloy, who also criticized the Patriots last Sunday after
his new team, the Bills, defeated New England, 31-0.
Emotional rescue from Bruschi
PHILADELPHIA -- Tedy Bruschi had one of those "emotional" weeks. You couldn't find too many players more upset about the loss of Lawyer Milloy and the effects on the team.
"Last week was a very emotional week for me," said Bruschi following yesterday's 31-10 win over the Eagles, "but here we are, it's another week where we just wanted to win a football game and get back on track."
Bruschi, who made some strong comments about the move that also questioned his commitment to the Patriots, later recanted those comments and said the Patriots are the only team he ever wants to play for. And as defensive cocaptain, he went about the job of getting the team on the right track again.
"I wasn't going to compromise who I am just because we were 0-1," said Bruschi. "I practice hard and I play hard. You see some guys who need a little bit [of motivation] here and a little bit there and you provide that for them. Being a captain is one thing but I think we have 50 some-odd captains. Everyone stepped it up and that's what happens. You bounce back, you get back on track."
Bruschi doesn't agree that football is a business, as many players said after the Milloy situation. Bruschi said, "Guys can say that all they want, but football will never be business. It'll always be a game where as soon as that ball is snapped I get on that field I'm gonna put my heart out there. I'm gonna be emotional out there."
He does not recall one bell-ringing moment during practice last week when he felt it was all behind the team. He just knows it happened sometime, some way.
As far as the opening-day 31-0 loss and what the effects were of Milloy's release and signing with the Bills, Bruschi said, "I don't take into account whether it was blown out of proportion or not. [The media] have to speculate on certain things. You've got to speculate, you've got to predict. Sometimes people want to say some things and sometimes they decide not to say some things."
Bruschi, who played well all game, got to put the icing on the cake with an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, adding further agony to Donovan McNabb's horrible day.
"I dropped one earlier, so the guys were telling me how to make up for it," Bruschi said. "Donovan just threw it a little bit behind him. There was the ball, right there, and all I had to do was run 15-20 yards."
After getting shut out in their opener, they rebounded at the Eagles' expense.
Inquirer Staff Write
It happens every season, and the New England Patriots proved it again yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Yes, it is possible for an NFL team to follow an absolutely miserable defeat in which everything goes wrong with a dominating performance that produces a big victory.
Philadelphia fans may have trouble believing that, but the Patriots' 31-10 victory over the Eagles came on the heels of their 31-0 loss at Buffalo in their Sept. 7 season opener.
The Patriots were a team in turmoil that day. Lawyer Milloy, their Pro Bowl safety and defensive captain, had been cut five days before the game for salary-cap reasons.
Obviously, the Patriots' morale took a sharp upturn in time for the Eagles, who were never in the game after the first half, but explanations for the Patriots' dramatic turnaround were sparse.
"That was a really good effort by our football team," said Bill Belichick, the Patriots' deadpan head coach, stating the obvious. "I'm proud of the way we played in all three phases. I thought it was just a good solid effort all the way around."
The difference from the first game?
"We played better," Belichick said. "We executed better. We scored in the red area [inside the 20]. We played better defense in the red area. Our third-down defense was better. We didn't give the ball away. It's not that complicated. We were just better.
"We had a good week of preparation," Belichick added. "There were some things we had screwed up that we had to get right. That happens every week. I just think we played a lot better."
No Patriot improved his game more than quarterback Tom Brady, who completed 30 of 44 pass attempts for 255 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.
Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, in brutal contrast, completed only 18 of 46 attempts, for 186 yards and no touchdowns, and was picked off twice. He also lost two fumbles in what was his worst performance since his second NFL season.
Belichick was asked if the Eagles' sputtering offense was of their own making, or a product of the Patriots' superb defensive play.
"I don't know," Belichick said. "What I do know is that last year, the Eagles... set a franchise record for offensive production. They've got a lot of really good players on offense, starting with the quarterback... . Believe me, those guys are going to win their share of football games this year. We were fortunate that we were able to come up with some plays at the right time."
One of the best of them produced the game's final touchdown, an 18-yard interception return by Tedy Bruschi, the Patriots' right inside linebacker.
"Little bit of an exclamation point, sort of put it away," Bruschi said of his score. "I dropped one earlier so the guys were telling me I had to make up for it.
"McNabb just sort of threw it behind him [Freddie Mitchell]. I was playing a pass drop, going with the man going across me and there was the ball, right there. All I had to do is run 15-20 yards, and I think I can outrace guys for 20 yards."
Bruschi also attributed the Patriots' comeback from last week's poor performance to improved effort.
"It was the same team and the same players," Bruschi said. "Our goal this week was to do whatever we had to, to leave this place 1-1."
Bruschi also pointed out that the defense was able to put pressure on McNabb.
"The guys were rushing like dogs today," Bruschi said. "Everybody was trying to get a sack on him and once our offense scored a few points, it was on - just go after McNabb."
It worked. McNabb suffered seven sacks, but the Eagles have two weeks to get ready for Buffalo, and maybe they'll get it together by then.
It can happen, as the Patriots showed.
Lewis, Bruschi, Hall take AFC honors
(Sept. 17, 2003) -- Running back Jamal Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, linebacker Tedy Bruschi of the New England Patriots and kick returner-punt returner Dante Hall of the Kansas City Chiefs are the AFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week for games played the second week of the 2003 season (Sept. 14-15), the NFL announced.
Baltimore's Lewis ran his way into the NFL record books with 295 rushing yards on 30 carries (9.8 avg.) and touchdown runs of 82 and 63 yards to defeat Cleveland in the Ravens' home opener 33-13. The victory lifts Baltimore to 1-1 as the team now travels west to play the San Diego Chargers.
With 7:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, Lewis gained 3 yards on a handoff over left guard to reach 280 rushing yards to surpass the 278-yard performance by Cincinnati Bengals running back Corey Dillon in 2000. Dillon rushed for 278 yards against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 22, 2000.
"It was great the way the whole team took part in Jamal's record," Baltimore head coach Brian Billick said. "They took pride in the way that they blocked for him, at the line and downfield. ... We all were part of history. It was special."
The three-year NFL veteran from Tennessee scored his 82-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage and had 180 rushing yards by halftime.
"At halftime, when he had 180 yards, I said to him, 'Why not go for the record?' " Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said. "He smiled and said, 'Why not?' Man, to be 240 pounds and that fast. Beautiful, just beautiful."
This is Lewis' first career AFC Offensive Player of the Week award.
New England's Bruschi had a career-high five passes defensed, including an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown to cap a 31-10 victory at Philadelphia. The eight-year veteran from Arizona also registered four tackles, including one sack, to help the Patriots even their record at 1-1.
"Being a captain is one thing but I think we have 50 some-odd captains," Bruschi said. "Everyone stepped it up and that's what happens. You bounce back, you get back on track."
Bruschi and his teammates stymied the Eagles, limiting them to 18 of 46 passing (39.1 pct.) and 268 total yards. The Patriots recovered four Philadelphia fumbles and posted two interceptions.
This is Bruschi's first-career AFC Defensive Player of the Week award.
Kansas City's Hall provided enough electricity to power Arrowhead Stadium with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 45-yard punt return to boost the Chiefs (2-0) past visiting Pittsburgh 41-20.
Hall's 100-yard kickoff return occurred as the Steelers enjoyed a 10-0 lead with 9:48 remaining in the first quarter. It was the second-longest kickoff return in club history, second only to a club- and NFL-record 106-yard return by Noland Smith in 1967.
Hall's second big return occurred early in the third quarter with the Chiefs ahead 27-20. Pittsburgh was forced to punt from its own 19-yard line after going three-and-out. Hall fielded the punt on his own 48-yard line and returned it 45 yards to the Steelers' 7, where running back Priest Holmes scored on a 4-yard run two plays later for a 34-20 lead.
"I love this guy," Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil said of Hall. "He's an inspirational kid. ... It takes all 11 guys, but he's a special kind of spark plug."
In his fourth NFL season from Texas A&M, this marks Hall's second career AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award. The speedy Chief earned his previous honor last season in a victory against St. Louis.
Lewis, Bruschi and Hall earn AFC Weekly honors
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Baltimore's record-setting running back Jamal Lewis, New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi and Chiefs kick returner/punt returner Dante Hall were named the AFC's Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week for week 2 of the NFL season.
Lewis rushed for an NFL record 295 yards and scored twice during the Ravens' home-opener, a 33-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns. The bulky back rushed for touchdowns of 82 and 63 yards, while also having another long run called back due to a penalty.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Lewis rushed for three yards on a handoff to the left side, giving him 280 yards in the game and allowing him to pass Cincinnati's Corey Dillon, who rushed for 278 yards against Denver during the 2000 season.
Lewis earned his first career weekly award.
Bruschi, who also garnered his first weekly award, was all over the field for the Patriots during a 31-10 win at Philadelphia. He also defended five passes, including an 18-yard interception that he returned for a touchdown.
New England's defense, led by Bruschi, limited Philadelphia to just 268 total yards.
Hall provided the already lethal Kansas City offense with some additional support. The explosive returner did well on both punts and kicks, going 100 yards for a score on a kickoff return and 45 more on a punt return. The 100- yard kickoff return was the second longest in Chiefs' history.
He was tackled at the Steelers' seven-yard line on the punt return, and running back Priest Holmes got into the end zone two plays later. Kansas City routed Pittsburgh by a score of 41-20.
Hall racked up a total of 208 return yards during the victory, 146 on kickoffs and 62 on punts, to collect his second-career weekly special teams honor.
Other nominees for the offensive player award were Hall's teammate Holmes, Buffalo quarterback Drew Bledsoe, Colts running back Edgerrin James, Denver quarterback Jake Plummer, Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward and Miami running back Ricky Williams.
Pittsburgh linebacker James Farrior, Indianapolis cornerback Nick Harper, Baltimore safety Ed Reed, Broncos linebacker Al Wilson and Chiefs safety Jerome Woods were considered for the defensive award.
Kickers Mike Vanderjagt of Indianapolis and Jason Elam from Denver as well as punter Shane Lechler were nominated for the special teams award.
09/17 14:23:26 ET
FOXBORO - Two weeks ago, Tedy Bruschi was quoted as saying he was more committed to his high school and college teams than he was to the Patriots
Yesterday, Bruschi was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his eight-year career after his madman performance Sunday in Philadelphia.
Mutually exclusive? Or different sides of the same coin?
Try the latter.
Bruschi could have claimed 100 times (instead of just once) that he wished he could ``put his heart on the line'' for the Pats after friend and teammate Lawyer Milloy was released prior to the season. He could have huffed and puffed until he was blue in the face. It wouldn't have mattered.
Anybody who knows Bruschi knows this: He's a football player. And that means what he says is not to be trusted. When the whistle blows on Sunday afternoons he only knows one thing - and that's flying to the ball.
He did that in most impressive fashion against the Eagles, recording five passes defended, four tackles, one sack and an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown. Arguably his best play - a hit on punt returner Brian Westbrook during a scrum that led to a Pats fumble recovery - didn't even appear on the stat sheet, although it's the exact type of play that wins football games.
Bruschi admitted yesterday that his blowup following Milloy's release and his performance in Philadelphia were the result of the same thing: his personality.
``I usually don't let you guys know what I'm thinking. Not like that,'' said the defensive captain. ``But that's who I am. I mean, I'm not the biggest, fastest, strongest guy out there - I just like to use my emotion.''
Bruschi's quote on Milloy, which got huge play in Sports Illustrated, typified the type of ``football-is-a-business'' approach many players took two weeks ago. But does Bruschi really believe that? No way.
``I don't feel that way. Football is just not going to be a business to me,'' he said. ``And that's probably why I'm my own agent. I negotiate my own contracts and I'm able to go up there (to the front office) and talk to them and separate the two. But football to me is a sport. It's a game. I love to play. And it's a game where you can go out there and release and have fun. And that's all football is to me, having fun.''
Bruschi will shoulder a huge amount of responsibility the next few months filling in for Ted Johnson (foot) at the ``mike'' linebacker spot. And Bruschi will be trying to get the job done with a far different style.
Johnson is the bull in the china shop, someone who butts heads with offensive guards and fullbacks and powers his way to the ball. Bruschi is smaller and quicker, meaning he has to go around blockers, not through them. Bruschi does that by any means possible; witness his cleats-over-helmet dive over Eagles running back Duce Staley on a second-half blitz.
Different styles or not, Bruschi still leans on Johnson for schooling.
``I went over to Ted's house last week, talked to him a little bit about the game and went over the game plan,'' said Bruschi. ``I've been watching him a lot, because he was a dominant performer in there if you ask me. . . . I can't do some of things Ted did. I can't. It's obvious that I'm not going to be able to take on certain blocks like Ted did. I'm just going to use what I have to get the job done.''
And that means flying through the air if necessary.
``If I can't go to the left of him and I can't go to the right of him and I feel like running through him is going to be hard - there's only one more way to go,'' said Bruschi. ``It's just something I try to do to lay it out there. If there's a way, I'm going to find it. If I have to dive over and land on my neck - I'm going to do it.''
As for the Jets, Bruschi doesn't like the fact they've won five in a row in Foxboro.
``That's something we want to remedy,'' he said. ``To have a team come in and win that much is insulting.''
Pats fans should be glad Bruschi has taken offense.
Bruschi turns emotion into award for defense
By Charles Durrenberger
Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said he was surprised when Eagles quarterback Donovan Mc-Nabb hit him in stride last week.
Bruschi returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown to cap New
This week, Bruschi was rewarded for his effort when he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Bruschi, an eight-year veteran from Arizona, had a career-high five passes defensed, and also registered four tackles - including one sack.
"Being a captain is one thing, but I think we have 50 some-odd captains," Bruschi told reporters. "Every-one stepped it up, and that's what happens. You bounce back, you get back on track."
Bruschi might have to turn in a similar performance in today's home game against the Jets to buoy New England's limping linebacking corps.
Rosevelt Colvin underwent season-ending hip surgery this week, and Ted Johnson will be out for several weeks with a broken foot.
Bruschi also has been busy off the field.
He was quoted in a Sports Illustrated story, written by Peter King, expressing his displeasure with the team's decision to release defensive back Lawyer Milloy on such short notice.
"I'm not as fully committed to the Patriots as I was to my team at Arizona or Roseville [Calif.] High," Bruschi told the magazine. "(The Patriots) took a franchise player and kicked him to the curb five days before the season. I wish - I wish - it was the old days in this game, and I could put my heart on the line for something.
"But, how do you do that in a place where guys, who've established what this team is about, just come and go?"
He offered his response to the media Friday, not necessarily backpedaling, but trying to explain his thought process behind what was said during the interview, which took place two days after Milloy's release.
"I was emotional," Bruschi told the Providence Journal. "It was an emotional week. The Pats are my team. It's the only team I've ever played for."
The Patriots are 13th in the NFL in total defense, allowing 295 yards per game. New England is better against the pass. It is rank-ed fourth in the league at 192 yards per outing.
Fractures typically take 6-8 weeks to heal, but given the fact that Washington missed 14 games last year with a fracture in the same leg to presumably the same bone (fibula), one has to wonder if two months is enough recovery time. Team physicians certainly wasted no time immobilizing the injury, as Washington was spotted with a knee-high cast on his leg in the locker room.
The Pats went into the season knowing they had the key elements needed to run the 3-4 defense, particularly a run-stuffing nose tackle (Washington), a point-of-attack middle linebacker (Ted Johnson) and a pass-rushing outside linebacker (Rosevelt Colvin). Now all three players are on the shelf, and Colvin is certain to miss the rest of the season after undergoing hip surgery on Friday.
One of the few starters left standing is middle linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
``What's a middle linebacker's favorite friend? His best friend is that big man in the middle. And he is our big man in the middle,'' Bruschi said. ``Whoa, that's a big loss. Ted, you just sense him in there. Guys have got to double-team him. They have to triple-team him. He's an emotional leader around here, too. He's sort of an unmentioned captain. He brings guys up and keeps things light in here. He's going to be missed.''
Bruschi, the reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week, had another outstanding game, recording a team-high nine tackles and forcing a fumble. And Washington's replacement, veteran Rick Lyle, also held his own, as the Jets ran for just 65 yards on the day.
But Lyle is not Washington and Bruschi won't always be able to do it by himself. Given the injuries, the 3-4 may soon give way to the 4-3.
The Pats continued to get hit hard by injuries elsewhere. Receiver David Patten left the game in the first quarter and didn't return after jamming his right knee on a reception over the middle. Linebacker Mike Vrabel had to leave the game early with a right elbow problem. His arm was heavily wrapped after the game.
Ty Law looked like he suffered a devastating right ankle injury late in the second quarter, but he returned to close the game and promised to be ready to go by this morning. Law reported he had a sprain. Quarterback Tom Brady (elbow) also suffered through some obvious pain.
Left guard Mike Compton sat out the game with a broken foot, ending his consecutive start streak at 35 games. Joe Andruzzi moved to left guard while Damien Woody went to right guard and rookie Dan Koppen played center. The trio helped pave the way for a 147-yard rushing day from the offense.
Other youngsters stepped in elsewhere. Rookie Asante Samuel filled in for Law and had an interception return for a touchdown. Rookie Dan Klecko saw some time at outside linebacker for Vrabel. Klecko also lined up at fullback in a goal-line situation and helped spring Brady on his 1-yard touchdown run.
``That's been the overall attitude of this team the last few years,'' Bruschi said. ``When guys go down, it's other guys' job to get the job done because it's expected of them.''
Pats: Walking wounded
LINEBACKERS - B
Tedy Bruschi was impressive for the second straight week, leading the team in tackles with nine and forcing a fumble. He also was a significant force as a pass rusher from various spots along the line. Willie McGinest had five tackles as he took Colvin's place at outside linebacker, but he never really factored in the pass rush. He's got to make the kind of plays he did against Donovan McNabb the rest of this season, particularly if Mike Vrabel is out any significant amount of time.
Pass-rushing schemes are only as good as the players implementing them, and the Pats are running out of implementers.
Injuries cut into Patriots' roster
FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots made an attempt at secrecy yesterday, but there were some things in the locker room that even they couldn't hide. The cast on Ted Washington's fractured left leg was clearly visible as he sat playing dominoes in the center of the spacious room, his crutches leaning on a trash bin.
Washington, who was injured five plays into Sunday's 23-16 victory over the Jets, does not speak to the media, so there was no chance of getting any updates or timetables from him. However, a source close to Washington described it as a "clean break. It was a small fracture."
The injury occured underneath a pile of Jets players, including center Kevin Mawae. Washington is expected to be out five or six weeks, according to the source, who said the injury was not in the area of the fibula fracture or ligament tear in his left foot that he sustained last September.
Another sight you couldn't miss was linebacker Mike Vrabel sporting a cast and sling on his right arm. Stacey James, the Patriots director of media relations, confirmed last night that Vrabel has a broken arm.
The official injury news released by the team was that guard Mike Compton and linebacker Rosevelt Colvin were placed on injured reserve, meaning they are gone for the season.
Compton, one of the team's most dependable players the past three seasons, was hurt in the Week 2 win over the Eagles and has been seeking second opinions the last few days. He will likely have surgery to repair a fracture in his right foot. It's not the best of timing for Compton, who is in the final year of his contract.
The Patriots also signed offensive lineman Wilbert Brown off waivers yesterday. Brown started nine of Washington's 14 games last season at guard and can back up at center. The team also added running back Patrick Pass for special teams duty. He takes Colvin's roster spot after the prized free-agent signee suffered a season-ending hip injury, also in Week 2.
Cornerback Ty Law, meanwhile, was limping noticeably as he made his way to his locker and then the trainer's room. He sprained his right ankle on a sideline play Sunday, colliding with Roman Phifer and coming down hard and awkward. At first it seemed he might not get up, but he came back to play. You have to wonder whether his one-on-one battle with Washington's Laveranues Coles will come off Sunday.
Other lockers were vacant because their occupants were off having medical tests at Boston-area hospitals or treatment in the trainer's room.
Quarterback Tom Brady was one of the missing, tending to a right elbow that has taken a beating in the first three games. The elbow, swollen to the size of a grapefruit immediately following the Eagles game, was jammed when Brady was sacked in the second quarter against the Jets. Brady walked off the field with his arm hanging at his side, but had it worked on and returned for the next series.
It's obvious that Brady is playing in some pain, though his tolerance is Groganesque.
Missing, too, was receiver David Patten, who went to have an MRI. X-rays done on Patten's right knee after the game were negative, but he had the MRI to check for cartilage or ligament damage.
Right tackle Adrian Klemm also suffered an undisclosed injury, which forced him out for most of the final two series. Belichick said Klemm's injury came under the category of "bumps and bruises" and that he would have to see how much practice time Klemm gets this week to determine his status for Sunday.
Fullback Fred McCrary has a sprained knee that has kept him out the past two weeks.
Even Willie McGinest sported a wrap on his wrist.
By tomorrow, when the Patriots are first required to report their injuries with the league, the list should be long.
Asked about the injury bug, linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, "Did you expect us to be in here hanging our heads? Well, we're not going to. What's happened has happened. The bottom line is, whoever is playing has got to get the job done, and that's the way we all feel.
"I'm numb to it because I have to be. I can't let it affect my mentality, I can't let it affect my play. I want guys to get better and get back to it as soon as they can. When I hit the field, when I hit the practice field or the locker room or in the meeting room, you can't think about it because I can't let it affect my preparation."
One byproduct of all the injuries is special teams adjustments. It seems Bruschi rarely gets a breather, something that could make him more susceptible to injury. Special teamers Matt Chatham and Don Davis will likely get more playing time at linebacker, which affects their special teams play.
Law probably won't practice much this week. The Patriots certainly liked what they saw from rookie Asante Samuel, who returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown against the Jets, but asking him to shadow Coles might be too much.
It appears the Patriots will stay with rookie Dan Koppen at center, with Damien Woody at right guard and Joe Andruzzi at left guard. Tom Ashworth will play for Klemm if he can't go.
The most severe dropoff in talent could be in the middle of the defensive line and at linebacker. Belichick said he would not rule out using Richard Seymour at nose tackle on some plays. Rick Lyle did a "solid job" against the Jets, according to Belichick, but Lyle is more of an end. It may be that No. 1 draft pick Ty Warren is force-fed into playing more than the Patriots wanted.
The linebacking corps is in shambles. If Vrabel can't play, would the Patriots use Chatham or go with more of a 4-3 alignment? That is something Belichick said he and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel would huddle on this week.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.
surprisingly, injuries remained a focal point of the action at Gillette Stadium
Thursday. Not only could the team be without a number of starters at FedExField
Sunday against the Redskins, but the game preparation and how the team's overall
depth will be handled may also be a key to New England's success in coming
Those management decisions will come into play on the field Sunday as
well. Some guys like linebackers Matt Chatham or Don Davis could see more
defensive action opposed to solely special teams work, while others like Tedy
Bruschi may be monitored more closely in the kicking game. As much as Bruschi
has been a solid contributor on special teams, New England can ill afford to
lose another linebacker to injury, especially in the kicking game.
Hurting Patriots need a quick fix
FOXBOROUGH -- The sight of former Columbia halfback Robert Kraft walking through the Patriots locker room wearing a "Targeting September" T-shirt gave way to a humorous moment: This team is hurting.
Kraft was headed for the treadmill, not the practice field, but a few moments earlier, coach Bill Belichick acknowledged at his daily press conference that if the Patriots had to play yesterday, they would not have been able to field a 45-man roster.
Belichick said the Patriots have practiced without pads this week. They've gone through game preparation with their second-tier players, some of whom may never see the light of day in Sunday's game at Washington.
Another key player going down might force Kraft to the scout team. Team spokesman Stacey James was even asked if he was going to suit up at practice.
Yesterday, the growing injury list included tight end Fred Baxter, a special teams standout, who is questionable with a leg injury. But David Patten (knee) and Damien Woody (knee) appeared much better.
The Patriots could have adopted a "woe is us" attitude, but that is not the case. However, letting out information that would give the perception of a dire situation -- say, to the Redskins -- might be a valuable psychological ploy by the Patriots.
A prevailing theory is if the Patriots can get by without their key injured players and stay above .500, they would be in good position to make a postseason run in the last six or seven games of the season.
The theory is this: Younger players will get more experience, which should help later in the season when they'll be asked to provide depth. It also allows backup players plenty of playing time. That is the most positive scenario that could take place. The worst is that the Patriots are simply too banged up to compete.
"I don't think the team is focusing on who's out or who's not practicing," said veteran defensive end Anthony Pleasant. "We have to go out there and play with the guys we have. Two years ago, key guys were hurt and we still won.
"It's an opportunity to see what guys can do. By playing and gaining experience, you will get better. Well, let me put it this way, you're either going to get better or you're going to get worse. Guys backing up get opportunities to show their skills. You might be surprised. Sometimes you have hidden talent that's not on display because it's on the back burner."
Tedy Bruschi has no idea what the perception of the Patriots is right now, and he really doesn't care.
"We see this differently," he said. "Whoever is out there needs to get the job done. We've got two in a row and now just keep racking them up and then worry about the next week. I think the guys who will be playing are good players already. [Linebacker] Don Davis has been a starter for teams before. This is an opportunity for Matt [Chatham] to show some things he can do. He's been a quality special teams player. Larry [Izzo] has been around, too."
Though the Patriots are relatively healthy on the defensive line -- except for Ted Washington (fractured left leg), who is out indefinitely -- one young player who could get more time is No. 1 draft pick Ty Warren. Through three games, Warren has not been a factor, but if the Patriots play a 4-3 defense because of the injuries to their linebackers, Warren could be thrown into the fire.
"I feel like I've been getting better every day," Warren said. "I'm on track to get where I want to get. I'm taking advice from some of the leaders like Richard Seymour and Tedy Bruschi. I'm not saying I'm at the top of my game, but I stay confident. I'm not not going to make decisions, I'm a rookie. When the coach feels I can contribute, I'm ready for it."
Warren said a possible scheme change to the 4-3 would not be disruptive because he went through it at Texas A&M. He said although the defense is complicated, the biggest difference is the number of plays the Patriots run.
The injury to Mike Compton, who is on injured reserve with a broken right foot, has been understated because teammates consider him the true leader of the offensive line.
Yet, it has opened up an opportunity for fifth-round draft pick Dan Koppen, the former Boston College player who is the starter at center with Woody moving to right guard.
"All along I've just come in and done what the coaches have told me to do," said Koppen. "I've walked into a good situation right now and so far things are going good. We have a philosophy here that if one guy goes down, then another goes in and he's going to play as hard as the starter. Playing next to these guys, they're all good. Everybody's good in this league."
If cornerback Ty Law (sprained right ankle) can't play, fourth-round pick Asante Samuel gets to cover the top receiver. And there'll be opportunities for guys such as fourth-round pick Dan Klecko.
There will be an acceleration period for the younger guys. This might be good. This could also be bad, but at least it'll keep Kraft off the practice field.
Added Tedy Bruschi [news]: ``You're asking me to settle and I won't. I won't settle when we lose, and I feel like we should have won, period. I'm not going to make any excuses and settle for any loss. We should have won that game.''
The Pats got a
huge injury scare in the first quarter when linebacker
Tedy Bruschi [news]
went down following a hard tackle of Ladell Betts. Bruschi lay motionless for
several moments before running off the field. He returned for the next series.
``No matter what the situation is, when you go down, get up,'' Bruschi said. ``The wife is watching and you don't want to worry her too much.''
LINEBACKERS - B
Tedy Bruschi [news] continues to wrack up quality games, leading the team with seven tackles and deflecting a pass. With all the injuries to those around him, he's hung in there and stepped up his game.
When the Patriots were in the traditional 4-3 formation, middle linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] plugged the rushing lanes while Willie McGinest filled Colvin's role as the perimeter pass rusher. Roman Phifer started at outside linebacker with Larry Izzo, Matt Chatham and Don Davis also seeing time.
``I look at the linebacker group and I see guys like Larry Izzo coming in there, I see guys like Matt Chatham coming in there,'' Bruschi said. ``I went down early in the game myself and came back in the next series.
``When Larry Izzo came in we didn't miss a beat. Don Davis did a great job for us. These guys are great football players and when they are in there they are expected to do well, and they expect that of themselves as well.''
Tedy Bruschi [news]
has also been active in place of Johnson at the ``mike'' position. Bruschi
may currently be the most indispensable member of the defense.
'Go, Sox,' says Bruschi
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi was born in San Francisco and attended the University of Arizona, but he insists he's not a West Coast baseball fan. Not this week, anyways. "Red Sox all the way," he said. "They're on a roll and I hope they ride it. It's Sox fever around here and I'm fired up for them." Asked to judge the Sox ability to celebrate after clinching the wild card last week, Bruschi said, "that was great. I saw them party the other night and I'd say just continue the party."
“The one thing defensive players have to do is tackle well,” Bruschi said.
“We missed a few tackles last week in Washington and they were able to break big
plays on them. So fundamentally speaking in terms of defense, number one is
This week's NOTES AND QUOTES:
Tedy on Ty Law
Like Harrison, linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] viewed Law's grittiness as a symbol of the mentality of the entire team.
``That's what this team is about,'' Bruschi said. ``From quarterback to kicker this is a tough team that grinds it out. We're missing guys and some of the guys on the field are dinged. Look at what Ty did. He was out for most of the game but came back in to make the play of the game.
``You could tell he was hurting, but when it came time to make a play, he forgot he was hurt. It looked like he was limping as he scored the touchdown, but that's the kind of thing that typifies the attitude of this team.''
Tedy on the Sox:
“I’m looking at the scoreboard too,” linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. “There’s a home run. There’s a double. OK, we’re up 5-4. We won the game. Great, good job. OK, here’s the defense. I’m glad the fans got fired up. I think they had fun with it.”
Patriots Report Card/By Kevin Mannix
Tuesday, October 7, 2003
LINEBACKERS - B
Tedy Bruschi [news] continues to fill the gaps left by departing linebackers as he makes plays from various positions on the defense. He had 10 tackles as well as a deflection.
Patriots take great joy in belting Tennessee
New England still has its ongoing battle with the injury bug, and in the coming weeks, the Giants, Dolphins, Browns, and Broncos will try to get a few licks in while the Patriots are vulnerable.
That they are, but they're anything but pushovers.
"We have heart in here," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We're going to play tough. No matter who's in there, they're going to get the job done. That's what I've been saying the last few weeks. To you guys, I'm sure it's just something where I'm trying to keep the faith. But it's what I believe. We're a tough team."
Rookie Klecko Proves Worth to Pats (AP)
FOXBORO, Mass. - The New England Patriots (news) are quickly discovering how versatile rookie Dan Klecko is.
In Sunday's 38-30 win over Tennessee, Klecko played nose tackle, defensive tackle in a 4-3 alignment, outside linebacker and even saw time as a blocking fullback in goal-line situations, clearing the way for rushing touchdowns by Antowain Smith (news) and Mike Cloud (news).
"I'm just willing to take whatever comes," the fourth-round draft choice from Temple said Monday. "I feel that's how I'm going to get on the field, by doing anything they ask."
Klecko is proving so versatile, in fact, it's becoming increasingly tough to list his position on the team's roster. Drafted as a nose tackle, Klecko has evolved into a play-anywhere option for the injury-ravaged Patriots.
"I was just happy to be out there, especially after the first two weeks of not suiting up or anything," Klecko said. "Every minute I have out there now is a blessing, and I realize that."
Klecko has a great pedigree — he's the son of former New York Jets (news) nose tackle Joe Klecko, a four-time Pro Bowler. The younger Klecko said his father has been very helpful as he continues to search for a niche on the team.
He also came to the Patriots with a good reputation. Klecko was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, recording 68 tackles with 10 sacks.
The one knock against Klecko is his size. The 5-foot-11, 283-pounder had the Patriots coaching staff wondering what role to use him in after they drafted him. But coach Bill Belichick said it was a familiar quandary for the Patriots, likening Klecko's situation to that of inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi (news), who was considered undersized in his rookie season in 1996.
"He was a good football player, but we didn't know exactly what to do with him and he obviously has created a good role for himself and has had a great career," Belichick said of Bruschi. "Whether that will or won't happen with Dan, I don't know, but that would be a good comparison there."
Bruschi, currently tied with safety Rodney Harrison (news) for the team lead in tackles with 36, said he tells Klecko the same things he learned when he came out of Arizona.
"Study," Bruschi said. "The one thing that players who have to learn multiple positions have to be is smart. On one series, you could be at one position, then at another position on the very next down."
Klecko, who has six tackles, a sack and a blocked field goal so far, appreciates the Bruschi's help.
"I go to ask him what he reads, and what specific things he looks at," Klecko said. "I try to take the things he knows, because it would be pretty dumb of me not to go ask him questions.
"He's one of the best middle linebackers in the league now and I'm trying to get there by learning through him."
Patriots 17, Giants 6
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] (16 tackles) looked like he could have suffered a serious lower leg injury in the fourth quarter when he was bent over his left knee, but he only ended up missing a few snaps.(WHEW!)
On Matt Chatham:
Veteran Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] viewed the play as much more than Chatham being in the right place at the right time.
``Matt Chatham made a great play. It's amazing that he was able to keep his feet under him,'' Bruschi said. ``Matt Chatham, let's take some time and talk about him and what a great job he's done. He's the type of guy who you don't hear about much, but put him in the game and he makes the plays.''
On Dan Klecko:
reminds Belichick of another gifted player who, because of his dimensions, had
to elbow his way into the lineup: Tedy Bruschi. ``I think Bruschi was a lot like
that in his rookie year in '96,'' said the coach. ``Bruschi was a good football
player, but we didn't know exactly what to do with him. Obviously, he's created
a good role for himself and has had a great career. Whether that will or won't
happen with Dan, I don't know.''
Asked if he saw
similarities between Klecko's present circumstances and those of his own early
career, Bruschi replied ``Yeah, I do.
different body type than I am, but he does remind me of the situation I was in
in terms of them just trying to find something for me to do,'' said Bruschi.
``When I came in, I wasn't a linebacker right away, and I wasn't a defensive end
right away, so they threw me in on third down and threw me in on special teams
to see what I could do.''
Bruschi never got to line up at fullback.
``Yeah,'' said Bruschi. ``But Dan's got a little more beef than me.''
Roman Phifer had a monster game with 19 total tackles while Tedy Bruschi
finished with a career-high 16, bailing out a sluggish offense that had just
one touchdown and 29 totals yards at halftime. The lone bright spot was running
back Michael Cloud’s one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave the
Patriots an insurmountable 17-3 lead.
Patriots' drive a Giants killer
By Glen Farley, Enterprise staff writer
FOXBORO — Linebacker Tedy Bruschi has a term to describe the New England Patriots' mode of operation this year.
"We're just motoring along," says Bruschi. ......
That term sure fit yesterday. The one thing that was emphasized this week was hustling to the ball," said Bruschi. "Guys like Tiki Barber (22 carries for 71 yards) and Jeremy Shockey (eight receptions, 80 yards), once they get the ball, they can do things with it. If you've got guys hustling, if the first guy misses, then the second and third guys can (make the tackle), and maybe they pop the ball loose."
"We leave all the adjectives to you guys," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi, when asked what word he'd use to describe his team. "When guys go down, we don't hang our heads. We expect whoever is in there to do the job."
Steve Grogan on Tedy:
RRM: I think everyone watching the game breathed a collective sigh of relief when Tedy Bruschi returned to action after landing in a heap and left the game in the second half. Why do you think he's so popular with the fans?
SG: Tedy Bruschi has become one of the indispensable players on the Patriots and with all the players they have out with injuries right now they couldn't afford to lose him, especially if Belichick wants to keep playing the 3-4 defense because they are so short on linebackers right now. Bruschi was involved on 16 tackles in this game. He's become a fan favorite because he's the kind of player who wasn't supposed to succeed in the NFL. He wasn't big enough to play middle linebacker but he's proven he's a football player. He plays hard and gives 110% on every play, and I think the fans enjoy watching a guy who plays like that. He's also one of the few guys on the team that will take responsibility when things go wrong, and that's what your team leaders have to do.
difference a year can make. Despite numerous injuries that have greatly altered
the defensive unit that steps on the field on Sundays, the Patriots are having a
much better season defending the run compared to a year ago. A unit that
finished 31st in the league stopping the run in 2002 currently ranks seventh in
the NFL in rush defense and has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher through six
games. That is in stark contrast to a team that allowed opposing backs to clear
the century mark in Weeks Three through Seven in '02 and on eight separate
occasions throughout the year.
“I am now,” Bruschi said with a laugh. “The main goal coming into this year
was what? We have to do better against the run. That's been a focus for us and I
think this is our biggest challenge of the year going down there in Miami versus
Ricky Williams. This is the test.”
Pats Bruschi standing tall
By Paul Perillo PFW October 15, 2003
One by one his teammates began to drop around him. First, his trusted partner inside, Ted Johnson, went down with a broken foot. Then newcomer Rosevelt Colvin was lost for the season with a fractured hip. Soon thereafter, Ted Washington, his protector up front, was gone with a broken leg. Then Mike Vrabel was lost to a broken arm, leaving him as the only true linebacker standing.
That’s more misfortune than most players have to deal with, but watching Tedy Bruschi patrol the middle of the Patriots defense lately has been inspiring.
“I just do what I do,” Bruschi said. “I don’t worry about the things I can’t control. When it comes down to it, I do the best I can to get myself ready to play.”
But lately that task has been infinitely harder for the eighth-year veteran. At the start of the season, Bruschi expected to join Johnson inside in the Patriots 3-4 set. With Johnson handling the traditional middle linebacker responsibilities, and the behemoth Washington on board to keep them clean from his nose tackle position, Bruschi figured to be a disruptive force with his athleticism allowing him to make plays.
During the preseason, he lined up as a pass rushing defensive lineman occasionally in nickel situations and appeared ready to do some damage to opposing quarterbacks. With other parts seemingly in place to handle the more traditional linebacker roles, and Colvin and Vrabel figuring to receive the bulk of the attention from opposing blockers, Bruschi was ready to potentially reap the benefits.
Injuries put an end to any exotic schemes and plans Head Coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel might have had, but they haven’t stopped Bruschi. Since opening day when the injury barrage began, Bruschi has played some of the best football of his career. He had five tackles in the blowout win at Philadelphia and added an amazing five passes defensed. He also returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown.
Since then he’s returned to his role as middle linebacker in the traditional 4-3 alignment, but his production has remained high. He had nine tackles in the win over the Jets, seven more at Washington and 10 in the spirited win over Tennessee. All this despite being the only healthy linebacker that started at Buffalo.
“It’s still football,” Bruschi said. “Everybody’s here for a reason. I expect them to do well when they get in. They expect it of themselves. It’s just the type of guys we keep around in the locker room. There’s a reason they’re here and it’s that they’re good football players. When they get their opportunity they’re out there being the player they can be.
“I don’t really look at it as something we’ve done well or not well because somebody hasn’t been in there. It’s just this is who we have and it’s all we have so this is who we have to do it with.”
Despite Bruschi’s modesty, his play has been more impressive given the circumstances. Of the top six linebackers that figured to get the majority of snaps in the 3-4 (Bruschi, Johnson, Colvin, Vrabel, Roman Phifer and Willie McGinest), only Phifer and Bruschi suited up against Tennessee. Instead, players like Matt Chatham, Dan Klecko and veteran special teamers Don Davis and Larry Izzo have been thrown into the fire.
That has put added pressure on Bruschi’s shoulders because he not only has his own job to do but he’s also doing it — at least theoretically — with less help around him. Just don’t expect him to admit to it.
“I haven’t put any more weight on my shoulders because if you do you get thinking about different things,” Bruschi said. “You get thinking about, ‘I have to do this or I have to do that.’ Each position on defense has a certain responsibility and if you leave responsibility to do someone else’s, the other responsibility you’ve left usually gets exploited.”
Still, having Bruschi’s experience and guile on the field has helped the youngsters immeasurably. Chatham talked before the Titans game about the calming presence of veterans like Bruschi and how that helped his preparation. He responded with five tackles, four unassisted, against the Titans.
“I can help some of the younger guys if they have questions and by relaying something I see to maybe help them out,” Bruschi said. “Even if we don’t have an injury situation, it’s everywhere,” Bruschi said. “If you see a young guy coming up you do something you might help him out with even if it doesn’t look like he’s going to get reps.
“That’s what the guys in this locker room are good about doing. That’s how you develop a young player; the older veterans have to have an unselfish attitude that even though this guy is young and he plays my position, I’m still going to help him out because when his time comes he could be playing right next to you.”
With no fewer than four starters out of the lineup with injuries, that time is now and Bruschi is certainly doing his share. Belichick speaks often about the need to develop an entire roster of productive football players, not just starters. He also likes to have veterans who provide a model for younger players to watch and learn from — guys who are relied upon as much for their play as for their knowledge and leadership.
In Bruschi, he has both.
On the Miami win:
As such, many players were sure to put the win in perspective. Yes, it ended the Pats' Miami curse and put them in first place. But a look at the calendar showed October, not January. ``We got it done. Cool,'' said linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news]. ``Now let's move on.''
On the blocked field goal:
Seymour said he knew he'd get the block. ``I saw it before it happened,'' Seymour said. ``When we were out on the field, me and Tedy (Bruschi) were talking and he said, `All right, Seymour, it's a big play for you.' And I was like, if you give me a good push, I'm gonna block it. ``The ball was snapped and Tedy gave me a good push and I just blocked it. It was one of those things where it was like slow motion. I thought Troy was going to pick it up and take it to the house.''
Bruschi said it's not as easy a play as it looks. ``You've got your hands on a man's butt that weighs over 300 pounds,'' Bruschi said. ``It is a massive amount of humanity that you just have to keep pushing. There are no words to describe it.''
On Rodney Harrison:
Said Bruschi: ``With
some people you can just tell they belong in leadership positions. Whether it's
an appointed or an elective position isn't important. Rodney was a leader
anyway. We just decided to make it official and give him the title.''
"It seems like Rodney's not just satisfied with tackling guys. He wants to punish people," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "He wants to drive them in the ground. He wants to let them know that it was him doing it.
"He's probably one of the more physical hitters that I've seen in the league."
"It's the biggest game of the year…this week," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "This is the biggest game because it's the next game."
FOXBORO -- The
news] linebacking corps appeared to be the team's strong suit going into the
season, but injuries decimated the position almost beyond recognition: Rosevelt
Colvin and Ted Johnson were struck down by early-season injuries, and
Willie McGinest [news]
and Mike Vrabel [news]
each missed several games, leaving Tedy Bruschi [news]
to hold the fort.
Phifer and Matt Chatham acting as his wingmen, the eighth-year veteran from the
University of Arizona has responded with what promises to be his finest season
to date. As the season hits the halfway pole against the Browns at Gillette
Stadium today, Bruschi is on a pace to establish career highs in most meaningful
defensive categories -- not bad for a guy who was adjudged too small to play at
the NFL level when he came out of college.
At his current
pace Bruschi (whose 63 tackles place him second on the team to Rodney Harrison's
67) would finish the season with 144 tackles and 23 passes defensed, giving rise
to at least two questions: Has Bruschi elevated his game THAT much? Or has he
simply been givenincreased opportunities afforded by the absence of more
And, should he
continue to ransack opposing offenses in the second half of the campaign, will
this finally be the year his colleagues around the league sit up and takes
notice by voting him to the Pro Bowl?
``I think Tedy's
playing well, but I don't know that he's getting any more opportunities than he
did in the past,'' said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. ``I think if you'll look
back at his (career) numbers the one thing is the number of games he's played
in. He didn't play in all the games last year. He didn't play in all the games
the year before. If you take a high production level like he's had and put it
over 16 games instead of, say, 12, there are some numbers there you lose when
you don't play a full season.''
Bruschi was inactive for one September game and missed the final four games of
the year after incurring a knee injury in the fourth period of the Thanksgiving
Day win in Detroit. In the 2001 Super Bowl season he sat out the San Diego game,
and played sparingly in several others.
``I think it's
still part of my developmental process in being a football player,'' Bruschi
said of his production this season. ``I'm in my eighth year now, and I feel like
I've come a long way in terms of where I was and where I am now.''
it ``amazing'' that Bruschi has barely rated a sniff over the years in the Pro
Bowl voting, but thinks that could change this season.
``I would think
somebody would recognize him, sure,'' said Belichick. ``He's just had too much
production to be ignored.''
selections are historically weighted in favor of incumbents, so Miami's Zach
Thomas will likely be the starting middle linebacker each year in Honolulu until
he retires, but who among AFC inside 'backers is having a better year than
Bruschi? By finishing second or even third in the player voting he could earn a
long-overdue Pro Bowl berth.
worried about (the Pro Bowl), and I don't care about it,'' said Bruschi. ``All I
care about are those numbers we put in the `W' column.''
Man for all
``You know, Tedy
does so many things for your football team that are important,'' said Belichick.
``There's the running game, the passing game and his leadership ability, but
then he does a lot in the kicking game, too. A guy who plays that much and is
that consistent and dependable adds a lot of value to our football team.
``If you're not
on the team maybe you don't recognize what he does as much as someone who's on
it. But we certainly do.''
quarter of the Patriots' second game of the season in Philadelphia, Bruschi
picked off a Donovan McNabb pass and returned it for a touchdown. It was his
third such play in a five-game span going back to the 2002 season. In the 31-10
win over the Eagles, Bruschi also registered five solo tackles, five passes
defensed and a sack, and was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Two weeks ago
against the Giants at Gillette, Bruschi was credited with 16 tackles in a 17-6
New England win.
That his two
best games have come against NFC opponents might not help his Pro Bowl case --
AFC players vote only for their own representatives in Honolulu -- but you'd
like to think that enough his colleagues will have seen Bruschi on film, or at
least watched enough of ``NFL Prime Time'' to recognize the extent of his
``I only judge
my career on one thing, and that's how many games we win as a team,'' insisted
Bruschi. ``I appreciate the compliment, but I'm only out there to win. I can't
say that enough and I can't MEAN that enough.''
exploits at California's Roseville High School were such that when his hometown
Sacramento Bee later rated the 100 top Sacramento schoolboy players of all time,
he was named No. 1. When he moved on to college at Arizona, where he played on
the defensive line, Bruschi tied the late Derrick Thomas' NCAA Division 1-A
record for career sacks with 52. A two-time finalist for the Lombardi Award
bestowed upon the nation's top lineman. Still, he lasted until the third round
of the NFL draft, mainly because scouts were concerned that his lack of what
Bruschi calls ``beef'' ruled out a career as a defensive lineman.
was a Patriots assistant coach in 1996 when Bruschi broke into the league,
recently admitted that ``Bruschi was a good football player, but we didn't know
exactly what to do with him. Obviously, he's created a good role for himself and
has had a great career.''
joined the Patriots he had, by his own admission, only a vague idea of what
linebackers even DID.
``He'd been a
defensive TACKLE -- not defensive end. He played on the guard,'' said Belichick.
``He'd set a record for sacks and all that, with his quickness and his ability
to play off blockers and play with leverage and play against bigger guys, but
when we got him in '96 it was the same kind of deal we have now with Dan Klecko:
You know, `This guy is a good football player and we want him out there.'
developed his skills as a linebacker. Now he's more natural as a linebacker than
guys who have always played the position.''
``I came into
the league not knowing what a hook drop was,'' said Bruschi. ``Coming in I was a
third-down guy and a special teams guy my first three years. I began starting
maybe late in my third year. Then my fifth and sixth years, I got to feeling a
little more comfortable. Now I'm in my eighth year and I feel like I can do this
for a little while.''
joined the NFL he had never played in pass coverage -- not in college nor high
school, making it more than slightly ironic that he currently leads the Patriots
with 10 passes defensed. That's one more than cornerback Tyrone Poole, and three
more than Pro Bowl corner Ty Law [news].
``That's the way
it's gone this year,'' said Bruschi. ``I always have a goal every year, and
that's to do better than I did the year before that. I'd like to think I've
grown and improved myself mentally and physically as a football player each and
every year of my career.''
Quick with a
covering the Patriots tend to congregate around Bruschi's locker, knowing that
he will be invariably cooperative and usually eloquent, even after a tough loss.
The linebacker spent part of Thursday's lunch hour with CBS television reporter
Lesley Visser taping a segment that will air in conjunction with today's
Patriots-Browns telecast. Ironically, although several of his teammates --
Tom Brady [news],
Troy Brown [news]
and Richard Seymour [news],
and Belichick himself -- have weekly radio gigs, Bruschi, who is actually
trained in the profession (he received his bachelor's degree in communications
from Arizona), does not.
``I know,'' he
said. ``I get on the radio once in a while and have a little fun, but I like
just playing football. I'll worry about career aspirations when I'm done.''
envision himself as a future broadcaster?
know,'' he said. ``Actually, I think I might want to COACH when I'm done. I'd
like to see what's out there for me when I'm finished, but hopefully that won't
be for another four or five years.''
``Nobody's beating any doors down to offer me anything anyway. So I think I'll stick to football.''
Tedy Bruschi joked after the win, New England's fourth in a row, that the
defense doesn't necessarily come into games thinking that it has to win the
contest for the team, but sometimes it just turns out that way.
Kevin Mannix/Report Card
LINEBACKERS -- B
Tedy Bruschi [news] and Roman Phifer are showing no signs of wearing down from their full-time duties as each had eight tackles and did a good job of shutting down the middle.
value: Pats stocked with team MVP candidates
Perhaps the biggest reason the Pats are 6-2 midway through the season is they have so many worthy choices in the ``MVP'' category.
There really isn't a clearcut, hands down choice, per se. What we have is a slate of strong candidates, namely and in no particular order, Richard Seymour [news], Ty Law [news], Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi [news]
Injuries practically wiped out the linebacking corps. Rosevelt Colvin suffered an early season-ending injury while Ted Johnson, Willie McGinest [news] and Mike Vrabel [news] also have missed time. That's left Bruschi, Roman Phifer and Matt Chatham to fill the breach. Bruschi has responded, so far, with a career season.
`Tedy's really stepped up in terms of taking control of the defense, and being a productive player,'' Belichick said. ``Our run defense has been a lot better than it was last year and he's a big reason for that. He also plays special teams. He's out there almost all day, and just plays his heart out.''
I don't have
any thoughts on Mile High,” Tedy Bruschi said. “I don't have any thoughts on
Monday Night. I only have thoughts on the Denver Broncos, the guys that put on
that helmet, the guys that put on that jersey. That's the only way we need to
look at it this week. It's not [about] a Monday Night game and everybody is
watching. It's [that] they are a good team, they've got a great coaching staff.
They'll come up with some things that will be tough for us to adjust against. So
prepare your butts off this week and be in the film room all day every day.
is a guy that if he gets in your secondary the chances of him going all the way
are good,” linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, echoing McGinest's description.
“He isn't a guy who is going to maybe get run down. He's a guy, if he breaks out
that far, certain running backs get an eight yard run, he'll turn it into a
Added linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news]: ``He's a guy that hasn't had a lot of reps, but he's a guy we can respect as a football player because of the system he's in. . . . No matter who is back there for the past decade, (Shanahan) has been a great coach with great schemes. And I'm sure we're going to see something different on Monday night.''
Patriots dream comes true for local students
Bruschi, the Patriots defensive captain known for his endless hustle and toughness, came to the school yesterday morning as a top prize in Dunkin' Donuts "Sports Dreams" contest, won by Alice MacAulay of Norfolk. The prize consisted of Bruschi coming to MacAulay's choice of her work or school, so the mother of three sent Bruschi to meet about 50 third- and fifth-graders yesterday morning.
Her children, Kelsey, 13, Nicole, 10, and Kyle, 8, were the guests of honor and got to talk with Bruschi for more than an hour while snacking on donuts and other Dunkin' Donuts items.
"Tedy is my favorite player because he has three sacks so far this season," said Kyle, who is the biggest Patriots fan in the family, according to his mother.
Although Kyle said he was excited, he pointed out this was the fourth time he had met Bruschi, and his neighbor is Patriots tailback Kevin Faulk. Kyle said he also has met Tom Brady and Richard Seymour.
The wide-eyed students chanted "Tedy, Tedy" as the middle linebacker entered the room and sat down next to them. Bruschi asked what the children were studying, their favorite Patriot players and quizzed them on some team trivia.
Then it was his turn to answer questions, and students had no shortage of them. Bruschi answered almost all the students' questions, and they found out he drives a Toyota SUV, lives in North Attleboro, that his best friend on the team is Ted Johnson, and that he was married five years ago and has two children.
When he told the group he was born in San Francisco, one student even asked him why he doesn't play for the San Francisco 49ers.
Thomas McCarty, 8, asked Bruschi if a mini-game could be staged on the spot, pitting all the students against Bruschi.
"That'd be too easy, I'd run you guys right over," Bruschi joked.
Throughout the session, students displayed their high football IQs and Bruschi learned the kids had a definite knowledge of the game. One astute child even asked what happened during a controversial overtime coin flip two weeks ago against the Miami Dolphins, when all three Patriot captains complained the referees mistakenly awarded possession to the Dolphins.
Bruschi laughed and then told the class the story. He said Brady called heads and then the ref flipped the coin, but since it was a commemorative silver dollar and not a standard coin, Brady had trouble deciphering exactly which side was heads and which was tails. He admitted the referee was correct.
"The bottom line is Tom doesn't know heads from tails," Bruschi joked, noting they got the win anyway on an 82-yard touchdown pass to end the game.
Fifth-grader Russell Greenstein said he was thrilled to meet Bruschi, his favorite football player.
"It was pretty cool, it was really cool actually," Greenstein said. "I think I'll remember this for a long time."
His classmate Eddie Riddoch agreed and said, "Tedy is the first Patriot I've ever met and I'm going to tell all my friends."
The "peel and win" promotion was featured throughout January and Dunkin' Donuts worked with the six professional Boston sports teams to give people the opportunity to meet with Boston's marquee athletes on a personal level.
Although chances of winning one of the grand prizes was 1 in 45 million, MacAulay won by entering a second chance raffle, which occurs when prizes are not claimed. She said entering contests like these is a hobby of hers, which takes up a couple hours of each day.
Last year she won her family a four-day, three-night trip to Cancun from a Kellogg's contest.
foe for Pats
KEY MATCHUP - RB Clinton Portis
vs. LB Tedy Bruschi
Since Terrell Davis' days, the
Broncos have been a run-oriented offense. Their reliance on the ground game
should be even more pronounced now, with third-stringer Danny Kanell at
quarterback and go-to wide receiver Ed McCaffrey expected to be extremely
limited if he gets on the field at all tonight.
Broncos running back Clinton Portis hasn't received the publicity he did last
year -- when he burst on the scene out of the University of Miami -- largely
because of the dominating performances of Jamal Lewis and Priest Holmes, but
he's still very good. Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi is having his
best season and this game gives him a chance to showcase his talents in a
``Monday Night Football'' forum.
Because of that uncertainty, you're
liable to see the Patriots come out very conservatively in the early going. They
don't want to come blitzing the Broncos come out with a series of screen passes.
``Given their offense,''
linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news]
said, ``I'd think we'd like to put ourselves in defenses that don't include too
many adjustment levels. We won't know what they're going to be doing and it
doesn't make much sense to guess. After the first couple of series, their hand
will be out there. That's when we can make adjustments.
``This is going to be a game of
sideline adjustments. We'll see their first few series and go to the sidelines
to sit down with `Rac' (Romeo Crennel, the defensive coordinator). He'll tell us
this is what they're doing and this is what we're going to do against them.''
Bruschi noted that because the
Broncos do SO many things on offense, most of the preparation must be done
before the team takes to the field.
``(Shanahan) is a great offensive coach,'' the veteran linebacker said. ``He can have one play that looks a certain way and then they move somebody and it's completely different. They show difference formations and schemes that you don't expect. That's why there was some much more preparation and film work this week. We've got to be ready for so many things and make so many adjustments.''
Kevin Mannix/Patriots Report Card
LINEBACKERS - B-plus
Willie McGinest [news] was a major factor in this win and not just because his six tackles tied him with Mike Vrabel [news] for the team lead. He rushed the passer. He held his ground against the run and he knocked the bejabbers out of Portis whenever he ventured into his area. The name of this game was hitting and McGinest was hauling off. So were Vrabel and Roman Phifer who did a good job of keeping Portis from getting to the outside. Tedy Bruschi [news] had only three tackles but he was in position, clogging inside gaps (except on Portis' touchdown run) and forcing him to look around for holes.
11/4/03 ProFootball Weekly
On defense, ILB Tedy Bruschi and Harrison have been the most consistent and valuable players. Bruschi is the only player in the front seven whom Belichick leaves on the field no matter the alignment (Ted Johnson, out with a foot injury, would be playing in Bruschis stead in short-yardage). Harrison is like an extra linebacker. Not great against the pass because hes stiff and doesnt move well laterally, Harrison has defended nine passes and is still a missile near the line of scrimmage who seeks out slot receivers daring to cross the middle of the field and is a sure tackler most of the time in the open field. Harrison (71) is sixth in the NFL in tackles, the only defensive back in the top 15, and Bruschi (69) is No. 10.
Linebackers - B-plus
With Johnson, Colvin, Vrabel and even Willie McGinest [news] missing much of the first half, everybody feared the worst. Tedy Bruschi [news] can only do so much, and both Roman Phifer and McGinest are getting on in years. But Bruschi has elevated his game even higher than usual and both Phifer and McGinest (when healthy) have responded, as has fourth-year man Matt Chatham, who is usually a return-team specialist. Bruschi has an interception, 10 passes defensed and two forced fumbles thus far. He and Phifer have effectively jammed up the running lanes between the tackles. Each has 74 tackles for the season, tied for second on the team behind Rodney Harrison [news], who has 80.
FOXBOROUGH -- There's no story line chasing Tedy Bruschi. He's in a story-free zone in this week of the Bill Bowl, Parcells vs. Belichick.
Oh sure, Bill Parcells drafted Bruschi for the Patriots as a defensive end out of Arizona in 1996, and he and Al Groh had the foresight to use Bruschi until he proved himself as an every-down NFL linebacker, similar to the way Bill Belichick is using Dan Klecko now.
If there's a story line, that's it. Pretty weak.
But there's nothing hanging over Bruschi's head. There's no payback of Parcells driving him. He did not leave his old coach, nor did the old coach leave him, on bad terms. He played hard for Parcells, just as he played hard for Pete Carroll and Belichick. The coaches have come and gone, but Bruschi has remained the same, which is why all of the coaches he's played for have loved coaching him.
At this stage of his career, Bruschi has given a dollar and a half in effort for every dollar they pay him. Consistent as a rock. Heart and soul. All of that stuff applies.
He carries no baggage, unlike, say, former teammate Terry Glenn, who wants to beat Belichick, the coach he thought mistreated him.
It's nothing like the Richie Anderson story. This past offseason, the pass-catching fullback had reached a verbal agreement with the Patriots when Parcells called him in Foxborough to remind him of what Parcells had done for his career.
Parcells asked Anderson, whom he had coached with the Jets, to visit Dallas before committing to the Patriots. Anderson did, and he never came back.
Now he'll be playing for the Cowboys against the Patriots, whose management was so upset with Anderson's agent, Tony Agnone, that when another Agnone client, Bill Conaty, was on the market, the Patriots dealt directly with the player rather than the agent.
Nothing like this uncomfortable story line involving Scott Pioli, the Patriots vice president of player personnel. He's loyal to Belichick, of course, but the guy on the other sideline is his father-in-law.
Nothing like the story line of how Patriots owner Robert Kraft stripped Parcells of his personnel powers, something he later regretted in the Bobby Grier-Carroll era.
Nothing like the story line of how both coaches left their teams (the Patriots and Jets) in the lurch to seek employment elsewhere.
Nothing like the story line of how Bobby Hamilton was buried on the Jets' roster when Parcells and Groh were in charge and was one of the first players Belichick brought with him to New England. Belichick disagreed with Parcells on Hamilton's playing time in New York.
Bruschi can say he played for Parcells, even went to a Super Bowl in his rookie season under him. But don't expect Bruschi to get involved in any of the hype surrounding the Bill Bowl.
Asked if there were any impressions left on him by Parcells, or any lessons learned from him, Bruschi said, "That was a long time ago. Then I would say no."
This is why Bruschi is a "coach's player" -- because he does not bite on media story lines, feeding instead on the vital propaganda his coach at the time hands him.
But he is not blind to the Cowboys, who at 7-2 are tied for the best record in the NFC.
"It's a challenge, not just because it's a Parcells team but because it's the next team," said Bruschi. "It's not who's coaching or who's playing, it's not about what happened in the past. It's about who's next. Right now it's the Dallas Cowboys who are next. I don't see who's coaching them, but I see who's going to be playing for them, and that's what we have to worry about."
He will say about Parcells, "He's done a good job. You win seven football games, I'm going to respect you, no matter who you've played or how you've played. The bottom line is they've won seven games and they're one of the better teams in the league. How many teams have seven victories in the league? Not many."
More probing about Parcells reinforces that Bruschi wants no part of it. Was he surprised to see Parcells get back into coaching?
After a long pause, Bruschi said, "No. And I wouldn't have been surprised if he stayed out. It really wouldn't have mattered to me. It's not like I'm keeping tabs on him or anything. Whatever he does, he does."
Bruschi's responses are precisely the kind both Bills would love to hear. Be kind. Be respectful. But don't go overboard. Don't dwell on coaches, because the players play the game.
And don't forget what's at stake.
"We're in position right now," said Bruschi. "It's what we do with it. It's what we do with it today and tomorrow and all the way up to Sunday. We have to realize where we are and that it's all about the Dallas Cowboys. November, December, that's when things begin to solidify themselves, and can we keep winning football games? Because that's when it counts."
And on this November Sunday, that's all that will matter to Bruschi. Not the story lines.
01:00 AM EST on Monday, November 17, 2003
FOXBORO -- In big games, good teams look to veterans to come up with the key plays. Which is why no one should have been surprised that Ty Law and Tedy Bruschi made the biggest of the many outstanding defensive plays for the Patriots last night.
The Pats defense was strong all night, as was obvious by the 12-0 final score in the victory over Bill Parcells and the Cowboys.
As so often happens with a Bill Belichick-coached team, the New England defense bent at times -- it allowed 17 first downs and 291 total yards -- but never broke. It never even came close to breaking because every time a big play was needed, someone was there to provide it, most notably Law and Bruschi.
"We knew it was going to be a defensive game going in. We knew it was going to come down on our (the defense's) shoulders, at least we think that way going in," Law said. "That's a good football team over there. They're one of the hottest teams in the league. We knew it was going to be tough."
Law, who is having another Pro Bowl-type season despite fighting through ankle problems for most of the first half, had two interceptions. His first was more important. Dallas had put together its deepest drive of the night, advancing to the New England 19, in the third quarter.
Quincy Carter went back to throw and got heavy pressure from Willie McGinest. He flipped a short pass to the right side to tight end Jason Whitten. Law was right there and he picked it off before Whitten had to chance to get it.
"The same thing happened earlier in the game," Law said of a deflection coming his way. "I told myself I wasn't going to miss it if it happened again."
Law then clinched the victory with an interception in the end zone in the final seconds. He now has 33 picks in his career, second in team history to Raymond Clayborn's 36.
By the time Law had his second interception, the Patriots had the victory in hand. They were trying to keep the Cowboys off the board.
"We were talking shutout on the last drive," Bruschi said. "We were saying, 'Let's stop them, let's get the shutout.' It's always great when you get a shutout. They don't happen a lot in this league. Any time you can get one it's real positive."
The Pats still had the chance at the shutout in part because of Bruschi's pivotal play. That came after the game had gone inside the 10-minute mark in the final quarter. Dallas was faced with a fourth-and-inches from midfield. Parcells, not surprisingly with his team needing two scores, decided to go for it. The Cowboys called time out to set up a play.
Twice earlier in the game they had run quarterback sneaks for the first down.
"If I remember correctly Rodney (Harrison) went over and pointed out the center," Bruschi said, "maybe gave them a different look. Maybe they just didn't want to do the same thing three times in a row."
Instead of the sneak, Quincy Carter handed off to halfback Troy Hambrick.
"It was a play they had been running before, sort of a counter action with the running back," Bruschi said. "I saw a gap, felt it was going to go that way and just hit it. I just used my instinct a little bit and there it was."
He hit Hambrick for a two-yard loss and the game was, for all practical purposes, over.
"On fourth and one it's like a turnover. We stressed this week that we knew turnovers were going to be big for us," he said. "We consider it a turnover because it gave our offense the ball right there."
As it was, the Pats won the turnover battle, 3-1. They are now 7-0 on the season when they have the advantage in that department. Bruschi, who went to the X-ray room after the game, apparently for tests on his elbow, insisted that he and his teammates were not as excited about beating their former coach as many of the team's fans might be.
"It's just another game we won. It's a victory," Bruschi said. "I'm not going to say anything different than I did during the week. None of that other stuff matters.
"I don't need to go over there and hug or anything like that or go over and say, 'How you doing?' All I care about is who's coaching this team," Bruschi said. "Bill Belichick is our coach. . . I don't concern myself with anything else. It was what we said during the week. You guys thought we were covering up, but we weren't."
The only covering up the Patriots did was on the Cowboys, on the field. And it was the veteran leaders, Bruschi and Law, leading the way.
the play perfectly, Tedy Bruschi broke in and nailed Hambrick for the loss.
down stop is sort of just like a turnover,” Bruschi said. “We anticipated a
sneak maybe, they had run a sneak a couple of times on a third-and-short, but on
fourth-and-one they tried to run a little counter action play which they had run
in the first half. I just sort of saw the gap and sniffed it out and hit the
gap.” “We really didn't start talking shutout until the last drive and we
were saying, 'Let's get the shutout,'” Bruschi said. “Then all of the sudden
they are inside our 20. So Ty made a great play and we were able to keep the
The Cowboys tried to get a good drive going again in the fourth. But they were stopped on fourth and 1 at midfield with 9:21 left. Hambrick tried to run up the middle, but he was thrown for a 2-yard loss by Tedy Bruschi. "I just sort of felt it. I saw a gap and felt it," Bruschi said. "I used my instincts and hit the hole. On fourth down, it's like a turnover. We considered that a turnover because it gives our offense the ball right there."
``Sure, I think it's a
big win for all of our coaching staff,'' linebacker Tedy
added. ``Going against someone you used to work for - if I worked for a guy as
long as they worked for that guy, I'd want to beat him, too. It's common sense.
I'm sure it feels good to them.''
`We were talking shutout on the last drive,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] said. ``We said, `Let's stop them, let's get the shutout.' Because defensive-wise it's great to get a shutout because they don't happen a lot in this league.'' Indeed, it was the Pats' first shutout since 1996. The Dallas offense outgained the Pats offense in yardage, 291-268, but big defensive plays, such as Bruschi's tackle behind the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter, consistently prevented the Cowboys from capitalizing. With the Pats leading, 9-0, Bruschi surged through the Dallas offensive line to take down running back Troy Hambrick for a 2-yard loss. ``I just sort of felt it, I just saw a soft-side gap and just hit it. I just used my instincts a little bit and hit the hole, and there he was,'' Bruschi said. ``Fourth-and-1 is like a turnover. It's like a turnover, and we stressed this week that turnovers were going to be big for us.'' Although former Pats coach Bill Parcells' return to Foxboro had been hyped for two weeks, neither Bruschi nor Harrison attributed the defense's performance to a visit by the Cowboys' new coach. ``I'm just interested in winning games,'' said Bruschi, noting that the Ted Triangle was once again intact with the return of linebacker Ted Johnson [news] and defensive tackle Ted Washington from injuries.
Pats ready and waiting
LINEBACKERS - A
Roman Phifer had eight tackles and Tedy Bruschi [news] picked up seven with another deflection to lead the way. Willie McGinest [news] may have been the most effective of the linebackers, with six tackles as well as a few pressures.
Patriots Thrive in Tight Contests
By HOWARD ULMAN, AP Sports Writer
Next Sunday in Indianapolis, they need to play much better than they did in last Sunday's 23-20 overtime win at Houston in which they suffered four sacks, three turnovers, one blocked punt and one blocked field goal. If they don't, chances are the score won't be very close. "We've had guys make big plays the last few weeks to win football games," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We do some of the things this week like we did last week, the chances of us winning are very slim." Indianapolis and New England are 9-2. So is Tennessee. The only AFC team with a better record is Kansas City at 10-1. The defense was outstanding on Houston's final overtime series that started at the New England 35-yard line after a poor punt. Willie McGinest stopped Domanick Davis for no gain and a 5-yard loss, Tony Banks threw an incompletion and Houston punted. "Things like that get you fired up," Bruschi said. "When you make those plays, it even boosts you more and it boosts your confidence."
Backs eye weather report
Key matchup: There will be a lot of intriguing one-on-one battles Sunday, including quarterback Peyton Manning vs. Wilson, receiver Marvin Harrison vs. Ty Law [news] and defensive end Dwight Freeney vs. Matt Light [news]. But we'll go with back Edgerrin James vs. Tedy Bruschi [news] as the most important. The Colts' big-play ability is contingent on defenses playing up against the run, and one reason Belichick has done well against Manning in the past is because the coach has had moderate success stopping James. In six meetings against Belichick, James has been held under 100 yards three times. Bruschi will be a key run defender from his middle linebacker spot. Also, as linebacker coach Pepper Johnson wrote in his book two years ago, the Pats in the past have been able to steal the audible signals of Manning. You can bet that Bruschi will be listening carefully.
Jim Donaldson: Here's another team with a terrific staff
Sunday, November 30, 2003
Coaches like to talk about a player's "motor." Well, nobody generates more RPM's than this undersized linebacker, whose production is way out of proportion to his physical stats. Bruschi's emotion, dedication and inspiring performance have made him a team leader, popular both in the locker room and with the fans.
It's never easy for Pats
LINEBACKERS - A
A number of these players have developed the ability to sense when a play has to be made, and McGinest is one of them. As he did in the Houston win, the veteran linebacker came through with a game-saving tackle, this time against James on fourth down from the Pats 1. He finished with only four tackles, but that didn't count the number of knockdowns he had against James when the running back attempted to go out on a pass pattern. Even when James didn't have the ball, McGinest was knocking him around. Bruschi had another strong all-around game with 12 tackles and two deflections, one on the goal line. Roman Phifer had his usual nine tackles with two deflections and Mike Vrabel [news] had five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
Emotions are high
“We are not
a bunch of guys in here that really pat ourselves on the back,” Patriots
linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. “We sort of look at the next opponent and
the next challenge. You look at the film from the last game and you close the
door on it. That's what we want to do. Close the door and forget about it.
Forget about all the good things that happened last game. We had some good
things that happened on the goal line stand to end the game, but you forget
about it and move on to Miami.
Harrison believes his actions will speak louder
Miami's heating up
The Patriots say the Dolphins have improved since their last meeting. "I think they're better now; they have some momentum going," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "They won, like two football games in five days. They're feeling good about themselves, their offense has some momentum going. They're where they want to be, so it's going to be a fight when they come up here."
The Patriots can clinch the AFC East title with a victory and could record a season sweep for just the fifth time in the 74-game series, and the first since 1997.
Miami has not played a game in the Northeast since playing the New York Giants Oct. 5. Since then, they've played road games at San Diego, Tennessee, and Dallas.
Bruschi said the anticipated cold weather factor is vastly overrated with a team like Miami, which annually plays in such climes. "Last year it was cold [in Foxborough], too, and they were up on us big with three minutes to go," said Bruschi, who said he believes the Patriots have a major advantage in playing the second game at home.
"We're in front of our fans and it's been a few weeks since we've been here, so I'm excited about that," he said. "We finish the year more at home than on the road; that's what I'm looking forward to."
It's Belichick's call: Weis' play selection subject to
Tedy Bruschi [news]
said he's looking forward to playing in front of friendly fans again.
``You could really feel the home-field advantage for the Texans and the
Colts,'' he said. ``And I want to feel it for us. The weather doesn't matter to
me and it doesn't matter to Miami. I want to hear the fans.''
Running game key to Pats' fate
While the Patriots
sort out their issues in the backfield, the Dolphins should have no such
confusion. As was the case in last season's finale in Foxboro, the Dolphins will
surely pound the ball with tailback Ricky Williams.
``He's the type of back that should thrive on these situations,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] said. ``They're going to count on him. I'm sure they're going to say, `Ricky, we're going to give you the ball and we're going to let you run.' And that's what he did up here the last time. He ran for something like 160 yards (185, actually). So I'm sure he feels pretty confident against us.''
Pats wary of Ricky's snow storms
In just two
sub-freezing NFL outings, the Miami running back is averaging 206.5 yards and
two touchdowns a game.
``I think that's
the strength of Ricky Williams' state of mind, really,'' Pats linebacker
Tedy Bruschi [news]
said. ``He doesn't have a long history of being in it or playing in it, but he's
been able to block it out. I think it's a testament to his mental strength.
``You guys talk about (the snow) a lot, but we know it's not going to be a big factor, and I don't think they consider it a big factor either, considering the last two games they played in bad weather - when they jumped on us up here, and that game in Buffalo, where Ricky ran wild.''
FOXBOROUGH -- Just look at what you've started, Tedy.
After he scored on a 5-yard interception return to give the Patriots a 10-0 lead in yesterday's 12-0 victory over Miami Dolphins, Tedy Bruschi not only helped New England clinch the AFC East division title, he seemed to trigger a new Gillette Stadium fad when many of the 45,378 fans gleefully tossed fistfuls of snow into the air in celebration.
When Bruschi's touchdown was immediately accompanied on the stadium's PA by Gary Glitter's, "Rock 'n' Roll, Part 2," the fans tossed snow in synch with the song, like some sort of snowy fireworks display.
"That was incredible, wasn't it?" Bruschi said, acknowledging the fan reaction after his fourth consecutive interception returned for a touchdown. "The fans throwing the snow up in the air to the music . . . It got me in the holiday spirit."
After New England's Brooks Barnard pinned the Dolphins at their 4 with a 36-yard punt, Miami quarterback Jay Fielder (13 of 31, 111 yards, 5 sacks, 1 fumble, 2 interceptions) seemed to be taken by the holiday spirit as well when he practically gift-wrapped the title for the Patriots on Bruschi's interception return.
"Tedy's play there was one of the all-time greatest individual plays I've ever seen," said linebacker Larry Izzo. "It took a lot of athletic ability. That's when you say an athlete is in the zone, for him to make that kind of play. To be able to snag the ball like that when he was about 5 feet away from the quarterback, and it's not like the guy is lobbing a little softball at ya, either. It just shows what kind of athlete he is."
Bruschi credited his return to a quick-hands drill his position coach, Pepper Johnson, had practiced with the linebackers.
"Every week, as linebackers and defensive backs -- and sometimes defensive linemen -- balls are thrown to you," Bruschi said. "Pepper Johnson throws it to us every Friday, as hard as he can. We make a little game out of it. That's what we were joking about on the sideline. We call it, `On The Line,' and it sort of resembled the same drill, because Pep gets really close when he throws the ball, so it did help me. I was on the line and there it was."
Asked what he saw on that pivotal play, which enabled the Patriots to gain some breathing room, Bruschi replied, "A ball. That's all I really saw."
As the play unfolded, he also saw his initial key, Miami running back Ricky Williams, drift out of backfield into the flat and pose not much of a downfield threat. When his eyes darted back to the quarterback, Bruschi caught a glimpse of Fiedler's eyes and somehow knew instantly the ball would be on its way.
"It was a defense where we had all the guys covered up," Bruschi said. "I peeked at Jay's eyes and there was the ball right there and I had to sort of reach up and grab it."
Bruschi poached Fielder's pass intended for Chris Chambers, took five steps to his left, and found paydirt. Bruschi had victimized Rich Gannon on a 48-yard return last Nov. 17 in Oakland and, in his next game on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit, picked off Joey Harrington for a 27-yard TD. In a 31-10 victory at Philadelphia Sept. 14, Bruschi became the first player in team history to score on three consecutive interception returns when he picked off Donovan McNabb for an 18-yard TD.
"It's nice, because it seems like every time I get the ball I have a chance to score," Bruschi said. "Fortunately, I've been able to get it in the end zone."
Certainly, though, yesterday's interception return had to rank as his easiest touchdown of the four.
"No touchdown is easy, man," Bruschi said. "You've got to play defense, you've got to react to the ball, you've got to catch the ball. Then, hopefully, you're close enough or have got enough blockers in front of you that you can score. Fortunately, I was like on the 3-yard line."
Bruschi showed such great hands on the play, coach Bill Belichick joked that he might take a look at Bruschi on offense. Apprised of his coach's comment, Bruschi smiled broadly and said, "That's not happening. That was probably his joke of the press conference."
Fact of the matter is, Belichick probably wasn't joking. He was probably just thinking aloud.
Uh-oh, Tedy. Just look at what you've started now.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.
Tedy Without TD
Patriots Stay Hot on a Snowy Day
FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots shrugged off the
snow, then watched their hardy fans fling it in celebration of the team's AFC
The Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins, 12-0, Sunday, but
didn't take control until Tedy Bruschi returned an interception five yards for
a touchdown that made it 10-0 with 8 minutes 55 seconds left. It was the
fourth touchdown of his career.
2 big plays seal Dolphins' fate
Special to The Herald
FOXBORO, Mass. - Linebacker Tedy Bruschi had his eyes on Dolphins running back Ricky Williams all day, but it was his play against the pass that sealed the 12-0 win for New England on Sunday.
The Patriots were clinging to a 3-0 lead midway through the fourth quarter when they had the Dolphins pinned back on their own 4-yard-line. That's when Bruschi snared Jay Fiedler's pass for an interception and strolled into the end zone for a 10-0 lead with just under nine minutes remaining.
''I had man coverage on Ricky Williams,'' Bruschi said. ``He drifted a bit and I saw he wasn't going to be a threat. I took a look at the quarterback and the ball was in play. I just put my hands up, and fortunately I got a good bounce. No touchdown is easy. You got to play defense, react to the ball, catch the ball and score. Seems like every time I get the ball I get a chance to score.''
It was perhaps the best catch of the day, on either side of the ball.
''You can't say enough about that kid,'' said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. ``He has got good instincts. He has a real nose for the ball. Every time he catches it, he ends up in the end zone. I should put him on offense.''
Safety Rodney Harrison made the other play of the game. Trailing 3-0, Miami marched to the New England 10 late in the third quarter. Facing third and 3, Fiedler dropped back to pass but was sacked by Harrison, who jarred the ball loose. The Patriots recovered to end Miami's best scoring chance.
Indeed, the Patriots might have had a touchdown themselves, but defensive tackle Richard Seymour could not get a handle on the ball. Mike Vrabel eventually pounced on the loose ball to give New England possession at the 30.
Although New England failed to score, the turnover alone was a big enough play as Miami never really came close to scoring the rest of the way.
''We're down there in position to make it 3-3,'' said Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt. ``We get sacked and fumble the ball on a quick action pass to [Rob] Konrad in the flat, about as simple and safe as you can do. We made an attempt at running the ball, but they were making it tough there. You have to be able to throw and run, you have to be balanced if you're going to beat a good football team, and we weren't able to do that today.''
Patriots win 9th straight game, AFC East title
Bruschi has returned his last four interceptions for touchdowns. "It was defense where we had all the guys covered up. I peeked at Jay's eyes and there was the ball right there. I had to reach up and grab it."
And the fans proceeded to grab and toss what was left of the estimated 30 inches of snow Foxborough received over the weekend. "That was incredible, wasn't it?" Bruschi said. "Throwing the snow up in the air with the music. It got me into the holiday spirit."
If the Patriots have their way, they'll have their egg nog toast during their second bye week.
Patriots freeze Fish: Clinch AFC East crown with
``We didn't want to prolong the fight,'' said linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] moments after his interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter sealed the win and induced a wild snowball shower from the 45,378 hearty fans in attendance. ``Just finish it today. Get your hats and T-shirts in the locker room and move on.''
Pats `D' has Razor's edge: Untouchable unit should be
showered with praise
For the hardy fans who turned out
yesterday, being part of that particular piece of franchise lore was memorable,
but nowhere near as much as the spontaneous celebration that broke out after
Tedy Bruschi [news]'s
touchdown interception return sealed it. As Bruschi crossed the goal line, the
team was saluted with a cannonade of snow thrown, fireworks-like, into the air
throughout the stands. Showers of snow enveloped the stadium as thousands
grabbed handfuls of the white stuff they were sitting in or standing on and
heaved it into the air.
The Patriots had given them
something special and they responded in kind with spontaneous joy after
Bruschi's score. There wasn't a lot of action on the field yesterday, because of
the conditions, but all that excess snow lent itself to an unforgettable sight.
Credit the stadium staff for
continuing it. Later in the fourth quarter, they played Gary Glitter's ``Rock
and Roll, Part 2,'' the traditional sports anthem - and the fans followed the
lead. Instead of shouting ``Hey!'' after the chorus, the fans joined together to
hurl handfuls of snow in the air.
It was time to celebrate and Patriots fans did themselves proud.
Pats take division title MICHAEL PARENTE , Sports Writer 12/08/2003
Nobody bothered to bring any confetti, so the fans at Gillette Stadium supplied
''Tedy's the guy I may look up to more than anybody on this team,'' Brady said. ``Because it looks like he makes a great play every week.''
FULL TILT, FULL TIME
Let it snow
Gillette Stadium was a playground
Just who started the festivities will be lost to history, but let the record show that when Tedy Bruschi picked off a fourth-quarter Jay Fiedler pass and romped into the end zone with the only touchdown in yesterday's 12-0 division-clinching conquest of the Miami Dolphins, people all over Gillette Stadium started tossing snow -- and there was plenty of it available -- into the air, transforming a staid sports venue into an adult playground.
"It was hard to believe that something I did resulted in that," said Bruschi. "I don't know if you can tell, but I was smiling through my facemask. That put me in the holiday spirit. I was ready to go home and sit in front of my Christmas tree lights."Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Let it snow
Pats’ ‘D’ freezes ‘em out
LINEBACKERS - A+
Bruschi didn't have great numbers for an inside linebacker, finishing the game with six tackles, a deflection and an interception. That only shows you that statistics don't always tell the story. Once again, Bruschi made the decisive play, this time picking off a Fiedler pass and returning it for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
That's the most significant characteristic you want in a player - to make plays. Bruschi continues to do that.
So does Mike Vrabel [news]. He had only five tackles, but he also had a sack, forced a fumble, recovered another one and created constant pressure on Fiedler from the outside.
Willie McGinest [news] had a sack and a deflection and he continues to disrupt opposing passing games by knocking around receivers as they attempt to get in their routes.
PFW Game 13
Notes & Analysis
Then Tedy Bruschi added
another. Still trailing only 3-0, the Dolphins had a first down on their own
4-yard line. The Patriots were in man-to-man coverage when Fiedler dropped to
pass, but Bruschi’s man was Ricky Williams, who hung in the backfield to read
any blitzes before slipping out into his pass route. Bruschi read the situation
and then made a huge play, stepping in front of Fiedler’s pass intended for
Chambers, making a fingertip catch and walking 5 yards into the end zone for the
game’s only touchdown.
Brandt's fantasy analysis: Week 15
It was cold -- 28 degrees with the wind whipping the remnants of 28 inches of snow at 25 mph -- and Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi was ready to take it to the house, even if it was only 5 yards away.
With New England clinging to a 3-0 lead midway through the fourth quarter (the result of a field goal on the Patriots' second offensive series), playing for field position became Bill Belichick's top priority. Enter NFL newbie Brooks Barnard to make his ninth punt of the day -- and it was a beauty: 36 yards to pin Miami down at its 4-yard line.
Facing first-and-10 with 8:59 to play, the Dolphins were expected to pound the ball with Ricky Williams for at least one play in an effort to escape the shadow of their goal post. But offensive coordinator Norv Turner, ever the trickster, had something else up his sleeve.
Dropping to pass on first down, Jay Fiedler looked to the right flat for a quick pass. At the same time, Bruschi took a step inside to play the run, recognized pass and began to retreat into coverage. Fiedler released the ball ... into the leaping mitts of Bruschi, who rumbled 5 yards into the end zone with the game-winning -- and AFC-East clinching -- pick six.
"It seems like every time he catches it he ends up in the end zone," Belichick said of Bruschi's INT return, the fourth TD of his eight-year career. "I should put him on offense." Fact is, it was Bruschi's fourth INT in his past 16 games -- and all were returned for scores.
at top of his game: Pats LB enjoying Pro Bowl season
By Michael Felger
Friday, December 12, 2003
- It wasn't too long ago that Tedy Bruschi [news]
was thought of as little more than a situational guy. You know, a role player.
That worm turned
a few years ago, when most everyone came to the realization that Bruschi was, in
fact, an impact, every-down linebacker.
Now the respect
for Bruschi's game has reached the next level. The
news] coaches would never admit it, but privately they feel Bruschi belongs
in the Pro Bowl. And the fans seem to agree, at least to the point where Bruschi
should get consideration. Bruschi is currently fourth in balloting among AFC
Rodney Harrison [news]
is certainly on the Bruschi bandwagon.
behind Junior Seau, but to me, Tedy and Junior are the two best linebackers I've
ever played with,'' Harrison said. ``I never really knew what kind of player he
was. I never knew he was so athletic. He has a nose for the ball like no one
I've been around. The guy is a consummate pro. Always studying. Always looking
at his playbook. Always watching film. I love the guy.''
interception return for a touchdown late in last Sunday's win against Miami is
all you need to know about what he brings to the defense. Bruschi is not the
classic, point-of-attack ``mike'' linebacker, but his quickness, instincts and
aggressiveness allow him to be one of the biggest playmakers on the best defense
in the league. He has 109 tackles (second on the team) to go along with a sack,
two interceptions and (in what has to be a league-leading total among middle
linebackers) 14 passes defended.
Not bad for a
guy who was drafted out of college as a defensive end by Bill Parcells and
didn't become a full-time starter until his fourth season.
``My goal every
year since I got into the league has been to improve. And I think I've done a
good job of doing that,'' Bruschi said yesterday. ``In the beginning I couldn't
be a full-time player because, basically, I didn't know how. I didn't play
linebacker coming out of college. I've had to progress from a full-time
defensive lineman to a linebacker. Each year I feel like I've learned more. Even
this year I feel like I know more than last year.''
Last year was an
up-and-down season for Bruschi as he suffered through a series of injuries. Not
surprisingly, the Pats defense suffered right along with him. While Bruschi has
played every game this season, he revealed that his health has been far from
perfect. It's believed Bruschi suffered a sprained knee against the Giants Oct.
12 before injuring an elbow a few weeks later.
``You play in
pain, of course,'' Bruschi said. ``I've had my things this year, believe me. In
the Giants game I got tweaked up a little bit. Believe me, I haven't been 100
percent out there. It's just a matter of, can you deal with the pain and keep
playing? Basically, that's what I've been able to do my whole career. When I
miss games, you know I'm really hurt. Something like that happens you just try
to put a brace on it and keep on going. You just keep pushing through it. You do
what you can to stay on the field.''
perfect for Bill Belichick's multi-tasking defense because he can play the run,
rush the passer and cover down field. The Patriots coaches believe his blocking
on the kickoff team is one of the major reasons why rookie
Bethel Johnson [news]
has broken off so many big runs. So far, the coaches have Bruschi with only one
mistake this season, blowing an assignment on a blocked punt in Houston.
As for the Pro
Bowl, two inside linebackers are chosen from each conference, which puts Bruschi
in range for an invitation after the players' and coaches' votes are factored in
later this month. He certainly faces tough competition in Miami's Zach Thomas
and Baltimore's Ray Lewis. Fan voting ends today on NFL.com.
``I'm not really aware of the Pro Bowl thing,'' Bruschi said. ``My brother jokes with me, saying, `Ted, I voted for you 10 times today.' I say, `Just chill out. We're getting ready for Jacksonville.' You know me. I'm not going to dwell on things like that. To me, success comes with winning football games. And that's what I want to do.''
Fri Dec 12, 6:24 AM ET
By Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY
USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell spends two minutes with New England Patriots (news) linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
Q: You made a great play Sunday against Miami, intercepting a pass and returning it 5 yards for a touchdown that sealed the win that clinched the AFC East title. What did you see to make that play?
A: I had Ricky Williams in man-to-man coverage, and I saw that he wasn't a threat to leave the backfield. He was staying in to block. So my eyes went to Jay Fiedler. When he threw it, I just had to jump and get it. Thank goodness it was only 5 yards, or no doubt Ricky would have caught me from behind.
Q: How did the reaction from the crowd - snowballs flying from everywhere - grab you?
A: To see something like that from a play I made was touching. It put me in the holiday spirit.
Q: With nine victories in a row, the Patriots have the longest winning streak in the NFL. What's impressed you most during this stretch?
A: Just how we've been able to keep our focus. Every week all we talk about is the next opponent. This week it's all about Jacksonville. We realize that clinching the AFC East doesn't matter to the Jaguars. They are scrappy and playing good football.
Q: When you played at Arizona, you were a defensive end who tied Derrick Thomas' NCAA (news - web sites) sack record (52). For eight years in the NFL you've been a linebacker. How did you make the transition?
A: I was a defensive lineman my entire career, and then when I came here they told me they would put me at linebacker. In my first meeting with my (then-) position coach, Al Groh, he said, "When you read pass, drop back to the hook," I said, "The hook? Where's that?" So it took me some time. I knew I could rush the passer, based on what I did in college. But I could also look at myself in the mirror and see how big I was (now 6-1, 247) and know that my future in this league wasn't as a D-lineman. So I was open to it.
Q: Who's been the greatest influence on your career?
A: Don Hicks (Bruschi's coach at Roseville, Calif., High). When I started playing freshman football, I just went out for the team because a couple of buddies of mine were playing. On the first day he gave us a pep talk and said, "Now break up into your positions." I didn't have a position, so I just stood there. He looked me up and down and said, "Go with the linemen." That got me started.
Q: When you get away from football, what's your favorite hobby?
A: Jazz clubs. I've got a favorite place in Boston, Scullers. I'm going there tonight. That's what I like to do to relax. Listen to some good music.
Q: You also play the alto saxophone. How long have you played music?
A: I started playing the clarinet at 10.
Q: The Patriots defense has been in tune - especially at home, where you haven't allowed a TD in four games. Is there a parallel between playing in a musical set and playing on a defense?
A: There's the baritone sax, the tenor, the alto and the soprano that all must come together to make a sweet sound. That's what we've been doing on defense lately. With guys like Richard Seymour and Ted Washington up front, Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel, and Ty Law behind us, we're all sort of playing together like you'd do in a quintet.
Q: During your streak, you've had some close calls, including the comeback win at Denver and the goal-line stand needed in the final seconds at Indianapolis. Does it feel like destiny? Remembering the year (2001) the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI, have you thought that you're in the middle of a special season?
A: We don't really do that. The different ways we've won, we just know there's more than one way. There's more than just the offense scoring a lot of points or the defense shutting teams down. Special teams plays a big part, and so often it gets down to a field-position battle. One of the biggest plays in football is when a punter pins a team deep in their own territory. So we need everybody to win. But I think the veterans help us keep the right perspective in continuing Coach (Bill) Belichick's message: You've got to take it one at a time. It's like, "OK, today was a good day."
01:00 AM EST on Sunday, December 14, 2003
Tedy Bruschi, the Patriots inside linebacker, is a bit of a renaissance man. He's an accomplished alto saxophone player and a man who likes to challenge perceptions and convention. Interviewing Bruschi is not undertaken lightly. If he doesn't agree with something, he'll call you on it. He's as passionate off the field as on it. Bruschi made the play of the game last week, scoring the game-clinching touchdown against Miami. Plays like that may get him to a place few could have imagined: The Pro Bowl.
Q. How's the Christmas shopping going?
A. Thank goodness for the Internet. I have a laptop here in my locker and I do all my shopping right here after practice.
Q. Do you love picking the right gift for people?
A. I do. It's the time of the year to let the people in your life know how much you care about them. I try to do that with a gift, but it's also important to talk to your loved ones, and tell them how much they mean to you.
Q. What's your favorite Christmas song?
A. I think it's The Christmas Song. I played that in an alto saxophone duet when I was in middle school.
Q. Do you hope to funnel your sons toward having some musical interests?
A. I won't funnel them toward sports. I'll funnel them toward something where they develop their mind a little bit.
Q. How old are your boys?
A. Tedy will be 3 on Dec. 19 and Rex is 19 months.
Q. Has being a parent changed your life radically in the day-to-day?
A. Oh yeah. Being married, having children and forming a family, you can't be the wild guy you were in college all your life. I'm a football player and all that, but I'm a family guy first.
Q. Were you an only child?
A. No. I have an older brother Tony, he's 33, and I have a younger sister, Natalia. She's 29.
Q. Was your dad very involved when you were a kid?
A. My parents divorced when I was young, so I grew up for a time in a single-parent home. My mother basically raised us. She married my stepfather, Ron, when I was 6 and they've been together since.
Q. What impact did your parents' divorce and your mother remarrying have on the way you are as a father now?
A. My dad was still around. I saw him on the weekends. There's good times and bad times and not every family is Leave it to Beaver. Unfortunately, there are divorces. You try to do the best for your kids and your family and you have to do your best to make it work out.
Q. The hardest you've been hit this year?
A. I was hit pretty hard (Wednesday). It was Wilbert Brown.
Q. Do you appreciate, at this point in your career, being looked at as a guy who gets the most out of your ability or do you ever want some respect for being the athlete you are?
A. No. I don't need it. I like being looked at that way. Most of the kids coming up in football are the way I was, less size, maybe not the prototypical numbers for one position, but it makes me proud if kids can get some inspiration by saying, "If Tedy Bruschi can do it, I can do it."
Q. Are the Sacramento Kings ever going to win a title?
A. Sure. Why not? But I grew up a Celtics fan in San Francisco.
Q. What did you think of the Antoine Walker trade?
A. I don't really have an opinion.
Q. When you watch sports, because you're an athlete, do you watch them differently?
A. I don't look at sports as a fan anymore. My mind is going when I see a play, "What was he thinking?" or "Why did he do that?" "What play are they running? What defense are they running?
Q. Is there a guy on this team who makes you stand back and say, "He's got a lot on the ball?"
A. Mike Vrabel. He's one of the main guys out there. I'll call the defense and make adjustments, but he's the one saying, "They're in this formation, watch out for this."
Q. Will you stay here when you retire?
A. I don't know. Depends what I'll do, what kind of offers I'll get.
Q. Ever think about TV?
A. Sure. TV or radio. I do a couple of things on the radio. I do something with Gil Santos.
Q. Does the media ever get it right?
A. You do. I can walk around the media and watch them while they're in the locker room and I can see who gets it right and who gets it wrong. I'll never tell you, but I know who gets it right.
There was not enough snow to toss skyward when the Patriots went ahead of Jacksonville, 27-6, late yesterday, so fans sang and smiled when the public address system piped Andy Williams's "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" into the rare air at Gillette. Indeed. It's the most wonderful time to be a Patriot fan and these winter grid festivals have become like weekend Woodstocks, with the Razor playing the part of Max Yasgur's farm. You can absolutely feel the love. "It's the fourth quarter and we have a lead and they're still there," said veteran linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "We look up at them and smile and they smile back at us. It feels like we're one with the fans. We see them brave the elements. That's New England Patriot football and we play no matter what the elements are. They're sticking it out in the stands, so we'd better stick it out."
Patriots know the way
By Kevin Mannix/Patriots Report Card
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
LINEBACKER – B-
Bruschi was very involved once again, making 10 tackles and taking advantage of the running room Washington and Seymour provided. Willie McGinest [news] had only three tackles but he was a factor in the pass rush, frequently pressuring Leftwich. He even had his hands on a potential interception when he dropped back into coverage. Other than that, it was quiet time for the backers. Mike Vrabel [news] had only three tackles, one more than Phifer. Ted Johnson [news] didn't get much playing time and didn't even make the stat sheet.
Pats look ahead: Expect another tough game from rival
By Rich Thompson
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Tedy Bruschi [news]
expects a tough game from the Jets. He said the Pats are not taking winning for
``We're playing well, but right now we hit the road after two nice games at home where we played well,'' Bruschi said. ``We had a great time, but now we are going to the Meadowlands for the Jets. ``I'm sure Pennington is playing well now. They are playing well, so for us to go down there and win is going to be tough for us. But that's what we have to do.''
Pats bowling team is spare: Only Seymour, Law get voted
By Rich Thompson
Friday, December 19, 2003
``I thought we would have at least five or six guys that have played well enough to be on that team, especially guys like Rodney Harrison, who, far and away, is the best safety in the league right now,'' Law said. ``Tyrone Poole has played at a tremendous level. It would have been incredible to see Tedy Bruschi get to his first Pro Bowl for the things he's done for this team. Tom Brady is one of the best leaders in football, period.''
To Patriots, Pro Bowl secondary right now
Players focus on the team's success, and believe individual honors will follow.
01:00 AM EST on Thursday, December 18, 2003
"Can we talk (about Saturday's opponent) New York, please?" groused linebacker Tedy Bruschi. The Pro Bowl "is just something that isn't really important right now. Individual accolades come with team success, and that's all I focus on."
Seymour: It's such a crock sometimes because it's such a popularity contest. It's really awful. A lot of guys deserve to go that don't. I think Tedy Bruschi has had a tremendous impact on this team. Why he wouldn't go, I don't know.
Patriots taking on same look
ANDREA SZULSZTEYN, AP Sports Writer
There's a lot on the line for us in these last two games," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "New York is going to try to prove something against us this week. But we realize how important this game is, no matter what our record is or what their record is."
The Patriots have won this season despite fielding a different starting lineup in each game. Through 14 games, they have used 42 different starters. Five opening day starters are on injured reserve.
That makes what they have done this season even more impressive. They started 2-2 before going on their long winning streak, and have won six games by seven points or less -- including two in overtime.
In 2001, the Patriots started 1-3 before reaching the Super Bowl. That year, they ended the regular season on a six-game winning streak. And they won seven games by seven points or less -- including all three in the postseason.
"I have taken that year and kind of just shelved it," Bruschi said. "I don't really try and compare any year to that because it was so special. This year the ending conclusions have yet to be played in front of us, so we will wait until the season is over to start the comparisons."
If the Patriots do win the Super Bowl again, they would be the best team in franchise history. They already have a record 12 regular-season wins, besting the previous mark of 11 set in -- you guessed it, 2001.
Jets hope to
spoil home-field advantage plans for Patriots
ANDREA SZULSZTEYN, AP Sports Writer
Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi believes the Jets are playing better than they were in the first meeting. He also knows the Jets want to knock off their division rival.
"This is the Patriots vs. Jets in December so anything can happen," Bruschi said. "It's a divisional rival game, we know each other real well in terms of wins and losses. Anything can happen in this game and we realize that, so we really have to be prepared."
Thursday, December 18, 2003
COLUMN: Mike Lowe
Home for the holidays, and maybe beyond
Copyright © 2003 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
"Have you not seen the atmosphere out there?" asked linebacker Tedy Bruschi, when he was asked how much of a home-field advantage the Patriots have.
"The snow in the air, the turf that we're comfortable with, the weather that we're comfortable with, the fans that are screaming for us . . . all that. We want to have as many games here that we can."
The Patriots are 7-0 at home this year, 9-0 including the preseason. Their home defense has been phenomenal, with two shutouts and four games without allowing a touchdown.
When Jacksonville scored a touchdown with 3:20 left, it ended a streak of 62 consecutive possessions in which the Patriots didn't allow a touchdown.
But the Patriots aren't too bad on the road either: 5-2 with victories at Philadelphia (11-3), Miami (8-6), Denver (9-5) and Indianapolis (11-3) - all difficult places to win.
There's not another team in the NFL that comes close to having such impressive road victories.
"Yeah, we're a good road team," said Bruschi, "but I want to play here. I want to play here, believe me. That's the honest truth.
"If we have to play on the road, we'll deal with it. But truthfully, I want to do what I can to keep the games here."
Tedy Bruschi got the first pickoff on the second play of the game. It took eight seconds for the Patriots to score, when Brady threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Givens for a quick 7-0 lead.
We're not jumping for joy. We haven't done anything yet. We have bigger goals to achieve," Tedy Bruschi said
Smooth moves, Romeo
By Kevin Mannix/Report Card
Monday, December 22, 2003
LINEBACKERS - A
Tedy Bruschi [news] had another very impressive interception to go along with his eight tackles and one deflection. Willie McGinest [news] turned the game in the Pats' favor with his Bruschian touchdown return of an interception that gave the Pats the lead in the second quarter. He also had 11 tackles, several pressures, a deflection and a forced fumble. Big Mac's play over the last month may be as dominant as he's shown as a Patriot. Not bad for a guy who was considered dispensable when Rosevelt Colvin was signed as a free agent. Mike Vrabel [news] was once again a dominant pass rusher, registering two sacks and a forced fumble among his five tackles.
Jim Donaldson: Despite voting, Patriots Bowl over competition
01:00 AM EST on Monday, December 22, 2003
The Patriots have just two players going to the Pro Bowl, but they have many more who are playing like Pro Bowlers.
Take Tedy Bruschi, for example. Any team in the NFL would jump at the chance. Find any Patriots fan -- better yet, find any offensive coordinator -- who doesn't think Bruschi's a Pro Bowl talent. He had another interception Saturday night, setting up the Pats' first touchdown. It was disappointing, however, that he didn't return it for a touchdown, as he has the last four passes he's picked off over the past two seasons. (That's levity, not criticism, in case anyone's wondering.)
New England (13-2) is seeking its franchise-best 12th straight win. That or a tie would clinch the top playoff seed in the AFC, but linebacker Tedy Bruschi isn't thinking about that reward. "We focus on how we beat Buffalo," he said. "It's about putting pressure on Drew Bledsoe and trying to stop Travis Henry and the running game."
Tough trade-off: Bledsoe gets sympathy from old mates
By Michael Felger/Patriots Insider
Friday, December 26, 2003
Tedy on Drew:
The excuse-making isn't nearly as
pronounced in Buffalo, where the fans and media are mostly amazed at how long
Bledsoe holds on to the ball and how much trouble he has against the blitz.
``At times, of course. It's
obvious,'' Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news]
said. ``He's holding the ball too long at times. But at others he's getting it
out to the check-downs and he's still hitting the crossing routes. But sometimes
when he's trying to get the ball down the field, the pressure does get to him.''
While Bruschi was frank in that
assessment, he and other players professed respect for Bledsoe's capabilities.
``I still see a guy that can make all the throws,'' said Bruschi.
on the Bills' 34, Bruschi broke unhindered through the porous Buffalo front,
stripped Bledsoe as he sacked him, retrieved the bumbling ball and went 13 yards
up field. Bruschi's hat trick led to an Adam Vinatieri
field goal and the final points in a 31-0 victory over the Bills before 68,436
yesterday at Gillette Stadium.
made a great call and there was a blitz where we had every gap covered and they
couldn't block everybody,'' Bruschi said. ``I got free and got a hand on Drew's
throwing hand and affected the throw.''
Bruschi missed a
golden opportunity late in the first half to return an interception for a
touchdown for the third time this season. Bledsoe was operating out of the
shotgun and looking to hit wide receiver Eric Moulds on a crossing pattern.
Bruschi sniffed out the play and got his hands on the ball on the Bills' 30 with
no one between him and the end zone. But Bruschi bobbled the ball and watched as
it fell to the ground.
interceptions for touchdowns against Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia and at home
against the Dolphins' Jay Fiedler.
``If you didn't
know, Drew throws the ball pretty hard,'' Bruschi said. ``He had some mustard on
it and I wasn't able to squeeze that one.
``It was just a
read where I had the middle of the field and I anticipated it was a three-step
drop. As soon as he looked to the left, I'm going to the left. The ball was
there, but I wasn't able to finish.''
with a team-high 10 tackles and his numbers were a microcosm of a system-wide
defensive effort. The defensive front, linebackers and secondary operated as a
unit to hand Bledsoe a humiliating quarterback rating of 34.7.
completed 12-of-29 passes for 83 yards, with an interception by
Mike Vrabel [news]
on the Bills' first drive. Bledsoe endured a final indignity when he was benched
in favor of Travis Brown in the fourth quarter.
fluttering up there kind of like a Christmas gift from him,'' Vrabel said. ``But
it was a big play.''
defense was equally effective against the run. Travis Henry rushed for 62 yards
on 15 carries, including a lost fumble on the Pats' 10-yard line. Only one ball
carrier, Denver's Clinton Portis, has rushed for over 100 yards in a game
against the Pats' defense this year.
``He's a good
back and he broke some tackles,'' Vrabel said of Henry. ``He played hard, he
runs hard and going into the game he was our No. 1 priority.
``You can't let that guy get going, and we didn't.''
Fitting Finish -- Patriots 31, Bills 0
27 Dec 03 / by Fred Kirsch and Andy Hart
.....“Irony,” linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. “Isn't that the same score it was up there? Wasn't it a goal line stand and we couldn't get in? Talk about payback. It was very similar. I was sort of shaking my head a little bit how similar it was. It's a little strange, but maybe that's just Foxboro magic working itself again.”
I think that
was a great call by Romeo [Crennel, defensive coordinator],” Bruschi said. “It
was a blitz where we had every gap covered and they couldn't block everybody. So
I came free. I was able to get a hand on Drew, on his throwing hand, and it sort
of affected the throw and Vrabel has great hands. He's going to catch that ball
will watch the first week of playoff proceedings from home due to its No. 1
seeding and bye. They will play the lowest seeded team coming out of Wildcard
“We have a couple of days off after this so I'll have a smile on my face for a little bit, but when we come back I think the veterans are going to stress in here, 'OK, it's time,'” Bruschi said. “What else can you achieve in the regular season? You can't achieve anything more besides getting the home-field advantage and we've got that so now we have to do something with it.
“Right now it's just about enjoying the bye and waiting to see who we'll play.”
"As high as we are right now, tomorrow we have got to come down," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Saturday. "However many we won in a row, the division title, it doesn't matter if we lose. The veterans are going to stress that around here starting tomorrow."
"Oh yeah, it had to be the interception," Bruschi said, when asked what ranked as Izzo's biggest play. "To preserve a shutout, especially a guy that doesn't play a lot of defense, but he still knows what to do and he still knows to get the read. I've been saying this all year, `Football players are in here for a reason; they're all good football players.' I was harping on that when times were tough and guys were injured, but Larry showed why we were able to overcome a lot of adversity this year."
"That's just how we've been playing lately, defensively," said Bruschi. "You miss 'em, get up. You miss 'em again, get up. Keep chasing the ball, keep chasing the ball. A big advocate of that this year has been Rodney Harrison. All he does is run to the ball -- in practice, in walkthroughs, whatever. That's just sort of contagious when guys run to the ball like that."
December 28, 2003
By ALAN GREENBERG, The Hartford Courant
Three-Pack Of Bruschi
Bruschi got the trifecta on the first play of the fourth quarter. With the Patriots leading 28-0, Bruschi sacked Bledsoe, forcing a fumble that Bruschi recovered and returned 13 yards to the Bills 14. Four plays later, Vinatieri kicked a 24-yard field goal for the game's final points.
ILB: Tedy Bruschi, New England. I feel really bad about keeping Dat Nguyen ("a football-playing dude,'' said Bill Parcells) of the Cowboys off this team. In fact, this was my final decision. But go back and watch the Patriots this year, a team that allowed 1.33 points per game less than any other team in football, and you'll see Bruschi in the middle of everything. Playing inside, outside, in coverage, rushing the passer.
Good sign: Brady’s A-OK
By Kevin Mannix/Report Card
Monday, December 29, 2003
LINEBACKERS - A
Bledsoe felt plenty of pressure
from these lads. Tedy Bruschi [news]
caused a bad pass on Bledsoe's one interception, blitzing up the middle and
getting in the quarterback's face just as he threw the ball. After that it was
up to Mike Vrabel [news]
to finish the deal and he did, picking off the bad pass and returning it 14
yards to the Buffalo 34.
That set up the Pats' second
score and, with a 14-0 lead and Bledsoe facing this defense, the game was over.
Bruschi had one of those triple-threat plays - sacking Bledsoe, forcing a fumble
and then recovering the ball. He also had chances for two more interceptions.
One would have been a tough catch but the other was a little floater that should
have been an easy interception and would have been an easy touchdown.
He finished with a game-high 10 tackles but seemed to get more enjoyment out of Larry Izzo's play as his replacement. With limited playing time, Izzo had three tackles, a deflection and the end-zone interception that preserved the shutout at the end of the game.
• Difference maker on defense: LB Tedy Bruschi led a Patriots defense that allowed just one touchdown and five field goals (22 points overall) in its last six home games. SI.com - Writers - Don Banks: AFC playoff field breakdown - Monday December 29, 2003 2:18PM
Breaking down the AFC playoff teams 12/30/03
Pivotal players: The whole linebacker corps. Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinest and Roman Phifer are more than strong second-level defenders -- they are the heart and soul of the Pats' 3-4. Bruschi has led the way in making team-inspiring big plays.
Other nominees for AFC Defensive Player of Week 17 were:
Strong Season Began With Uncertainty Tue Dec 30, 5:56 PM ET
By HOWARD ULMAN, AP Sports Writer
FOXBORO, Mass. - Tedy Bruschi checked the New England Patriots (news) roster before the season and felt optimistic. "I said, `We're pretty good,' " he said Tuesday. "I really thought we could do some things." The linebacker couldn't have imagined his team would accomplish so much — the best record in the NFL and a 12-game winning streak with a stingy defense and an outstanding quarterback.
Patriots Notebook: There's plenty of work to be done
01:00 AM EST on Wednesday, December 31, 2003
The urgency is perfectly clear
What type of wisdom can a player about to make his fifth postseason appearance impart upon his less-experienced teammates?
Patriots defensive captain Tedy Bruschi says he will try to help the rookies understand what "the playoff tempo" is going to be like.
"The urgency's going to be stepped up," he said. "We don't have anymore meaningless games or anything like that. We lose and we're done."
But beyond that advice, says Bruschi, "if these rookies don't know anything by now, they're pretty clueless. We've had four preseason games, the whole regular season, and now it's the playoffs. So we'll talk to them a little bit about it, but if they don't get it by now, they've got problems."
Q: What kind of season has [Tedy]
BB: Bruschi has had a great
season. He has done a terrific job for us, all the way around. His leadership.
He is one of the team's captains. He is the defensive signal caller. He has to
make a lot of adjustments from that linebacker position. His play on the run and
in the passing game. He has been a solid player for us in the kicking game as
well. Punt team, field goal team, kickoff return team. He has been an integral
part of a lot of things we do both on and off the field. He brings high energy
to the field as well. He has had a real good year.
Q: So has this been his best
BB: He has had some other pretty
good ones too, but he has had a lot of production and a lot of big plays this
year, so you probably have to put it up there with any other season he has had.
Q: At the start of the year, did
you envision him playing this much of a role?
BB: Well Ted [Johnson] missed a
significant number of games, so that increased the playing time for Roman [Phifer]
and Tedy both. They have stepped up and played a lot of plays and played them
well. You never know-I try not to, at the beginning of the year, say 'well this
is how it is going to go. This guy is going to play 700 plays, this guy is going
to play 900, this guy is going to play 400. You get everybody prepared. It
changes from week to week. You have to meet different challenges along the way.
You never know how they are going to turn out. I thought Tedy had a great
offseason. I thought he was very well prepared coming into the year. He was in
good condition. He had a good training camp, good preseason year and in his
preparation for the season. He has played well. I think it is all falling into
place for him.
Q: Tedy Bruschi, the evolution of
his career and his contributions on and off the field, is that something you can
see in a guy when they come in or when they first come in are you just worried
about them getting better as rookies? Can you see that potential in a guy like
him when they first come in?
BB: Well, I would say both. The
first thing you are worried about is them getting better and playing and just
finding a role and contributing on the team. Of course with Tedy, there was a
big transition coming from a down lineman, basically a defensive tackle, to a
stand up linebacker, that is a huge transition from playing down to playing on
his feet. Tedy brings a lot of high energy to the game and brought that even as
a rookie in his different roles whether it was sub-defense, whether it was
regular defense, special teams on the practice field and so forth. He did a
great job of that. I think the leadership comes with confidence, it comes with
performance, it comes with production, it comes with experience and that was a
lot more evident when I came back in 2000 than what it was in 1996. I have said
many times that every player brings leadership to the team - rookies, 20-year
veterans, everyday they come to the practice facility or to the stadium and do
their job. They provide some kind of leadership either a positive or a negative
and his has always been positive. As his experience has grown, as his
performance has grown, I think his leadership has grown with it and I saw that
in 2000 and it has continued to grow in the last four years.
Q: Has Tedy maybe take further
steps than some other similar players might have who made the transition that he
did from being a down lineman to a linebacker?
BB: Yes. I think that Tedy has come about as far as a player could come really. Because from his background...he probably has as many responsibilities on the field as any player. He is involved in every running play, every passing play, every blitz, every time he is not blitzing he is involved in the coverage and that is multiple coverage too because you are talking about a combination of backs and tight ends and flow and guys crossing and switching them off and all of those kinds of things, audibling when we need to change defenses for whatever reasons, he has assumed a wide variety of responsibilities. In addition to that, a significant role in the play calling which is defensively adjustments and audibling and making checks based on formations and that type of thing, as much as anybody. There is not one quarterback on defense like there is on offense, there are more people involved in the communication than that but certainly the middle linebacker is at the top of the food chain there in terms of the communication and decision making from a defensive standpoint.
The New England linebacker and defensive captain does a lot more than just put up impressive numbers.
01:00 AM EST on Wednesday, December 31, 2003
FOXBORO -- Don't ask Tedy Bruschi to rank his individual performance this season. At least, not yet. He won't be ready to answer that question for another month or so because only then will he know whether or not he was successful in bringing another Super Bowl championship back to New England.
"Every year I just try to come in with a goal to improve from the previous year, so I think I've done that," the Patriots linebacker said yesterday before practice at Gillette Stadium. "I've done all right, but I judge my success on what we do as a team. That's still up in the air, so I want to finish the year."
Even though Bruschi may be reluctant to evaluate his performance at this point, the numbers he put up in the regular season speak volumes about his contribution to a defensive unit that allowed the lowest points per game (14.9) not only in franchise history but in the entire NFL this season.
The defensive captain finished the regular season second on the team behind Rodney Harrison in tackles with 137 (87 of them solo), just one less than the career-best he posted in 1999. He also forced three fumbles, recovering one.
After becoming the first Patriots linebacker to return two interceptions for touchdowns in 2002, Bruschi went one better this season and became the first player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for TDs.
The first two pickoffs he scored on came in November 2002, a 48-yarder he grabbed from Oakland's Rich Gannon Nov. 17 and an interception of Detroit's Joey Harrington that he returned for 27 yards Nov. 28.
Then in the second game of the 2003 season, Bruschi picked off Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb and ran it in from the 18. Earlier this month, he returned a Jay Fiedler interception 5 yards for a touchdown in New England's 12-0 win over Miami on Dec. 7.
Bruschi's streak was snapped a week and a half ago when he failed to score off his interception against the Jets.
"He has done a terrific job for us all the way around," said Pats coach Bill Belichick. "His leadership -- he is one of the team's captains. He is the defensive signal caller. He has to make a lot of adjustments from that linebacker position. His play on the run and in the passing game. He has been a solid player for us in the kicking game as well -- punt team, field goal team, kickoff return team. He has been an integral part of a lot of things we do both on and off the field."
What has impressed Belichick about Bruschi's progression since first joining the Patriots in 1996 is the way he learned to handle the added responsibilities that came when he was switched from being a down lineman to a stand-up linebacker, a position Bruschi had never played until four or five years ago.
"That is a huge transition from playing down to playing on his feet," Belichick said. "Tedy brings a lot of high energy to the game and brought that even as a rookie in his different roles. . . . He did a great job of that. I think the leadership comes with confidence. It comes with performance. It comes with production. It comes with experience. And that was a lot more evident when I came back in 2000 than what it was in 1996."
Bruschi says it took him about three years before he truly felt comfortable with all the changes.
"It was something I just had to get used to," he said. "It was a transition for myself. I think a big attribute for myself is my intelligence. I've been able to pick up various defenses and play various positions and get better at it."
Not only has Bruschi gotten better, says Belichick: "I think that Tedy has come about as far as a player could come really.
"He probably has as many responsibilities on the field as any player. He is involved in every running play, every passing play, every blitz. Every time he is not blitzing, he is involved in the coverage and that is multiple coverage, too, because you are talking about a combination of backs and tight ends and . . . guys crossing and switching them off and all of those kinds of things. Audibling when we need to change defenses for whatever reasons. He has assumed a wide variety of responsibilities.
"There is not one quarterback on defense like there is on offense; there are more people involved in the communication than that. But certainly the middle linebacker is at the top of the food chain there in terms of the communication and decision making from a defensive standpoint."
Breakthrough season for Pat's Bruschi
Patriots LB has good year on defense and offense
Pats linebacker Bruschi has nose for end zone
Tedy an offensive bear
Bruschi sparks Patriots defense
By JIMMY GOLEN, AP Sports Writer
January 1, 2004
FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- Tedy Bruschi has been so proficient at getting into the end zone that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick joked he might switch the linebacker over to offense.
Bruschi has three interceptions this season, and when he returned the first two for touchdowns, that made an NFL record four consecutive times he scored with a pickoff. With 12 points, he is the team's ninth-leading scorer, ahead of fullbacks and wide receivers and quarterback Tom Brady.
``He has had some other pretty good (years), too. But he has had a lot of production and a lot of big plays this year,'' Belichick said. ``So you probably have to put it up there with any other season he has had.''
After finishing the regular season with the NFL's best record, the Patriots (14-2) are off this week while the AFC winnows its playoff field from six to four. New England will play at home Jan. 10 against the lowest-seeded team remaining in the conference, either Baltimore, Denver or Tennessee.
The Patriots earned the bye despite early-season injuries that might have decimated another defense. Among the injured were linebackers Ted Johnson and Mike Vrabel, meaning Bruschi needed to play a bigger role as a player and a leader, on defense and on special teams.
Although his touchdowns made the highlight reels, Bruschi's true contributions have come as a signal caller and steady leader of the defense. He is second on the team with 137 tackles, 87 of them solo. He also forced three fumbles and recovered one.
It's all the more impressive because he hasn't been a linebacker that long, having converted from a defensive lineman after the Patriots drafted him from Arizona in 1996. He didn't really become a starter until 1999.
``I've only played linebacker for about four or five years in my entire life,'' he said. ``So it was something that I just had to get used to. I think a big attribute for myself is just my intelligence. I've been able to pick up various defenses, play various positions and get better at it.''
``I think that Tedy has come about as far as a player could come, really, from his background,'' he said. ``He probably has as many responsibilities on the field as any player. He is involved in every running play, every passing play, every blitz. ... He has assumed a wide variety of responsibilities.''
Safety Rodney Harrison said his new teammate compares to an old one, Junior Seau. Both are hardworking and serious about their game.
``You don't see him celebrate too much. You don't see him get too high, no matter what he does,'' said Harrison, who played with Seau before signing with the Patriots as a free agent last spring. ``He's just a consummate pro. He's a tremendous football player. He's one of the best linebackers I've ever played with.'
It's already forgotten One Sunday had nothing to do with the next. That was the Belichick credo. What he hated most about his job, he would say, was returning to the locker room at 4 o'clock after a loss, a week's preparation gone for naught. But at 4:01, the next Sunday began, with another chance for victory.
"Every game we've played since I've been here, we felt like we were going to win," Belichick said. "We obviously didn't win all of them, but that's how we felt going in."
Which is why the 20-17 loss at Washington in Game 4 -- the last defeat of the regular season -- rankled. The squad was missing five offensive and four defensive starters that day, and Brady's throwing shoulder and elbow were hurting. But the players still expected to prevail.
"We should have won the game," said Bruschi, after the Patriots had climbed out of a 20-3 hole and tried a fourth-down pass in the final minute instead of going for a tying field goal. "To say it was a moral victory, you're asking me to settle, and I won't. I won't settle for any loss."Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / One-track minds
Patriots the best in field
By Kevin Mannix/Patriots Report Card
Sunday, January 4, 2004
A sensational collective effort
by this group all year long.
had the best season of his career with 137 tackles, two sacks, three
interceptions, 16 passes defensed (the most by any linebacker in the league) and
three forced fumbles. He played against the run. He rushed the passer. He
dropped in coverage. Basically, he did everything and did everything well.
had his most productive season in the past five or six years and came through
with huge plays that enabled the Pats to survive in both Houston and
Indianapolis. Mike Vrabel [news]
had a dominant year, but nobody seemed to notice. He overcame a broken arm that
kept him out of four games to finish with a team high 9.5 sacks, two
interceptions and four forced fumbles.
Roman Phifer, as usual, figured prominently in both run and pass defense, finishing with 133 tackles, third on the team.
2003 AP NFL All-Pro Team List
By The Associated Press
Mon Jan 5, 1:18 PM ET
Inside Linebacker — Tedy Bruschi, New England, Dat Nguyen, Dallas.
*Congrats to Rodney Harrison, Ty Law and Richard Seymour for making the first team!
Pats try to equal 2001
By Glen Farley, Enterprise staff writer
So, which team was/is better: The 2001 team that won Super Bowl XXXVI or the current team of 2003 that is favored to win (2-to-1 odds in Las Vegas) Super Bowl XXXVIII?
No one would know better than the head coach of those two teams, Bill Belichick, but, in what should come as no surprise, he "ain't" talkin'.
"I hate to make comparisons," said Belichick. "Every year is different. No two weeks are the same, no two teams are the same, and no two years are the same."
Special teams captain Larry Izzo is the Patriots' resident film critic. He's used to ranking things on the big screen. So which team, 2001 or 2003, gets two thumbs-up from Izzo?
"I don't know," said Izzo. "That will be determined."
Must be waiting for the highlight film to come out.
Just one locker stall away from Izzo, inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi, a defensive captain who, like Izzo, played for both teams, can be one of the more outgoing members of the team. Surely, he'll offer some insight into the matter.
It seems Bruschi has taken Belichick's response to another level.
"You're right," Bruschi snapped at a television reporter who prefaced the comparison question with 'I know you don't like doing this, but …'
"I don't like doing that," said Bruschi. "So why bother asking me?"
There were plenty of questions being asked by the media about the Tennessee Titans in the locker room at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday and the one thing that resonated in nearly every answer was the fact that these Patriots certainly have a lot of respect for the team they will be facing on Saturday night, a team New England beat 38-30 earlier this season.
“I think they are sort of like us,” linebacker Tedy Bruschi said.
“They are a physical football team that doesn't back down from anybody no matter
what the situation is. I think that is what you are going to have here on
Saturday night is two physical football teams just pounding away at each other.
It's just going to be a battle.”
And Bruschi certainly wasn't surprised in the game he saw when the Titans defeated the Ravens last weekend in Baltimore to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
“I'm not impressed,” Bruschi said. “I'm not surprised. I mean it's a good football team. They played a physical game with the Ravens. They didn't back down. They went down there and just hit them straight in the mouth. I think that's what their goal was, to run it with Eddie George. He got about 80 or 90 yards and had a great game. He played with a dislocated shoulder and Steve McNair is an MVP. So I'm not surprised at what they did down there.
“It didn't surprise me what they did. They are just a football team. They don't care who they are playing. They don't care where they are playing. Jeff Fisher has them at a point where their mentality is, 'We are going to get it done.'”
....“There is just a lot more on the line,” Bruschi said. “You still want to approach this game like you'd play normally. What's going to win this game is what won all the other games for us previously—making tackles, making blocks and fundamental football. You play good fundamental football and that's what you have to do to win football games. It's going to be no different this Saturday.”
Patriots' four-fold mission
January 06, 2004
- Terry McCormick
1. Have a Bruschi. New England has had plenty of players step forward this season as part of its run to the AFC's top seed in the playoffs. Few have been bigger than big-play linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who no doubt saw what the Titans did to Baltimore with a resurgent Eddie George and an improved running game. The Patriots' defense will have to be cognizant of Steve McNair, of course, but they'll have to be on their toes against the run as well. McNair passed for 391 yards in the first meeting between the two teams.
Pats Locker Room Quotes
7 Jan 04 / by New England Patriots
TEDY BRUSCHI, LB
I think what you're going to have here on Saturday night is two physical football teams pounding away at each other. It's just going to be a battle.
(On Tennessee's 13 wins)
It didn't surprise me in terms of what they did. They don't care who they're playing or where they're playing. Jeff Fisher has them at a point where their mentality is that they're going to get it done.
(On Steve McNair and his injuries)
He's got his aches and pains, I'm sure, but the bottom line is what I see out there. I see him out there playing and making plays and running quarterback draws. To me, he looks good and he looks healthy when he's playing.
Pats overcome injuries
By PAUL KUHARSKY
''We just all realize injuries are a part of football,'' inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. ''We had a couple more guys down maybe than the other team, but it didn't matter. You've got to expect guys go down. The guys who stepped up showed we're a good football team from No. 1 to 53.''
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi said there has not been some huge off-field bonding movement to accompany the defensive resurgence.
''Nothing special, we're just a good group,'' Bruschi said. ''We get along and everything. I don't go out and double date with guys, I go home and spend time with my family. We all know each other, we respect each other and we just go out and play hard.''
Pats must limit Titans’ hefty receivers
Michael Parent/The register
discussing physical play, it’s usually in reference to the players on defense,
but few realize the Titans’ wide receivers are equally tough.
"They’re four of the biggest guys I’ve seen collectively," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "Usually, a team has one or two receivers that has good size that can really go up there and get the ball. They have four of them."
Belichick's preparation for games Pats' greatest defense
"I can't explain it; we're just playing well," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We've been fortunate enough that when a team gets close in the red zone we've been able to make a big play, cause a turnover, maybe score on defense.
"It's no magic formula, it's just big players making big plays."
And as the victories mounted, with the rest of the NFL waiting for the bubble to burst, New England got stronger, pitching shutouts in two of its past four games and scoring 27 points or more in three of the final five.
"We didn't really look at it in terms of 12 in a row," Bruschi said. "We thought it was one in a row 12 times."
Follow the leader
Bruschi added that part of the reason for the Patriots' single- mindedness stems from players performing with chips on their shoulders. It's hard to imagine a team with such a sterling record sending only two players to the Pro Bowl - defensive end Richard Seymour and cornerback Ty Law - as is the case with New England.
The voters slighted at least a couple of players - Bruschi and quarterback Tom Brady.
Quote: "I think (the Titans) are sort of like us. They are a physical football team that doesn't back down from anybody no matter what the situation is. I think that is what you are going to have here is two physical football teams just pounding away at each other." - Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi
Guest analysis: Bubba Miller
4. Big-play Bruschi
I remember playing against Tedy Bruschi in the East-West Shrine Game and thinking, ''If they're this fast in the NFL, then hopefully McDonald's is hiring.'' He has a nose for the football and might be the most underrated defender in the league. He has three interceptions on the season with two touchdowns. The Pats feed off his energy. Allow him to make an emotion-swinging play and the Titans are in trouble.
Bubba Miller is a regular guest on The Sports Insiders with Bill King and The Tennessean's David Climer weeknights on WTN 99.7-FM.
Defensive giants: New England leads NFL in four major categories
By PAUL KUHARSKY
Tedy Bruschi (54), Matt Chatham (58) and the Patriots have knocked off the Titans, Colts, Dolphins, Eagles and Broncos during their current 12-game win streak.
''There is no magic reason. I can't tell you, 'This is why,' '' linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. ''We're just playing better, we've gotten better as a unit. If you're looking for a single, solitary this-is-it, I can't give it to you.
''The only number I am proud about is 14. That's the number of games we've won, and now we're working on 15.'
Passion play: Bruschi brings undeniable energy to
By Mike Reiss/MetroWest Daily News
Tuesday, January 6, 2004
- He's dynamite on the football field, sizzling with emotion and intensity,
competing with a playground-like flair. No, Patriots
news] linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news]
hasn't lost his youthful enthusiasm.
``With Tedy, it's all about
heart,'' says Tony Bruschi, his older brother.
The 30-year-old Bruschi is most
definitely at the heart of the Patriots' playoff push, a starting middle
linebacker whose full-time, full-tilt approach has earned respect from
teammates, coaches and a fan base that reveres him. But where did it all come
The early years were spent in
San Francisco's inner city.
``We didn't have a back yard,
just a community circle of grass barely big enough to get football games
going,'' the Patriots captain said. ``That's where it all started.''
What's since blossomed is a most
impressive football career, from Roseville (Calif.) High School, to the
University of Arizona, to the Patriots. The common thread at each locale:
Bruschi has played with the same passion he had as a youngster in San Francisco,
where sprinkler heads stuck out from the ground and a hole in the end zone
sometimes resulted in broken ankles.
``Street ball,'' he said flatly.
``It was tackle football, ripping people's shirts off, bringing others down. I
loved to get dirty.''
One time, a local gangster tried
to break up a game by threatening Tony.
``Tedy snapped. He fought for
me. Here I am, the older brother, and my younger brother is protecting me. It
still brings tears to my eyes,'' says Tony.
``That guy never bothered us
This campaign might be Bruschi's
best. Starting 16 games at middle linebacker, he's been credited by Pats coaches
with 137 tackles, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and two sacks.
Yesterday he was voted second-team All-Pro.
``He's done a terrific job, all
the way around,'' coach Bill Belichick said. ``Leadership, he's a defensive
signal-caller, his play against the run, the pass, the kicking game, punt team,
field goal team, kickoff return team - he's been an integral part of a lot of
things we do on and off the field.
``He brings high energy to the
Energy is what first struck
Larry MacDuff, the defensive coordinator at Arizona when Bruschi was a freshman
recruit in 1991.
``He loves to play the game of
football as much as anybody I've been around,'' said MacDuff, a 30-year coaching
veteran now serving as special teams coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers.
``He sets the standard for me as far as the way I measure other players - his
intensity, his love for the game, his preparation, his enthusiasm. He's at the
top of the mountain in all those areas.''
Yet Bruschi's first collegiate
season was a wipeout after a wrist injury forced him to redshirt. Over the next
four years, however, he totaled 52 sacks to tie an NCAA record. Arizona's
defense finished in the top 10 each year, and was No. 1 in the nation in scoring
defense in 1992 and rushing defense in 1993.
Much like Patriots fans,
followers of the Wildcats program went wild over Bruschi, often chanting ``Broooo-ski''
when he made a play.
``He was a legend at the
University of Arizona,'' MacDuff said.
Bruschi wasn't selected until
the third round (86th overall) of the 1996 NFL draft. At 6-foot-1, 245 pounds,
he was considered too small to play defensive end, but the Patriots had a
``Bruschi, we're going to put
you at linebacker. Here's Al Groh.''
The voice on the other end of
the phone was Patriots coach Bill Parcells, who said only 11 curt words - in all
of three seconds - before passing the raw Bruschi to his new position coach.
Welcome to the NFL, kid.
Bruschi laughs when he recalls
the conversation, then retraces his steps.
The first challenge was finding
a role, anything to make the club, which he did as a pass-rushing specialist and
special teams whiz.
That bought him time - 2 years
really - to learn the linebacker position, and when starter Todd Collins
suffered a season-ending injury midway through the 1998 season, Bruschi broke
through with eight straight starts on the weak side.
His NFL life took off from
``When I look at my career, it
was a lot like the approach we've taken as a team this year, a step-by-step
process,'' Bruschi said. ``I came in at 6-1, 245. I wasn't going to play
defensive end in the NFL, but I had to show I could play football.
``I was lucky to make myself a
role and then it was all about showing progress, consistently getting better,
taking that next step.''
An unexpected leap
One of Bruschi's first football
steps came by accident. After his family moved to Roseville, a suburb of
Sacramento, the 13-year-old Bruschi was attending freshman orientation when two
classmates called him over.
``They had some cleats and a
cooler by their feet and I asked them what it was for,'' he says. ``They were
trying out for the football team and told me I should come.''
The next day, as others arrived
with pads over their shoulders and cleats on their feet, Bruschi showed up in
tennis shoes and a T-shirt. Perfect.
It was Bruschi's first taste of
organized football, his first time playing on a sprinkler-free field.
``Once I put on that helmet and
those shoulder pads, I just let it all go, didn't care who I was hitting or how
hard it was,'' he said. ``I just wanted to hit people. After that first day, I
remember thinking, `This is fun.' I was whooping and hollering. It's been a joy
ride ever since.
``My life was never mapped out.
Who knows what would have happened if those guys didn't call me over that day?
At the first practice, when we broke into positions, I didn't know where to go
and coach (DonHicks) pointed me to the linemen. Then Arizona, and getting
drafted here. It was never, `This is what I want to do.' It's taken on its own
course. Who we played next was always the big thing.''
Which is one reason Bruschi fits
perfectly in New England under Belichick, who was a Patriots assistant in 1996
when Bruschi arrived on the scene.
``Tedy has come about as far as
a player could really come,'' Belichick says.
In more ways than one.
His passion play
How much does Bruschi love
``I remember his last high
school football game, he cried his eyes out because he didn't know if he'd play
in college,'' Tony recalled. ``Then his last college game, he cried his eyes out
again, because he didn't know if he'd play in the NFL. He was blowing kisses to
Then there was the Super Bowl
victory in 2001. ``You could see it in his eyes after the game,'' Tony said.
``He told me, `I did it. I made it.' ''
This time, it was Tony who was
One of Bruschi's highlight-reel
plays this year came in Week 2: an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown
against the Eagles. Tony wanted the game ball, but Bruschi didn't have it.
``I'll get another one at some point this season,'' Bruschi told his brother.
That ball was later delivered,
Fed-Ex style, after the Patriots' 12-0 win over the Dolphins on Dec. 7 - when he
plucked a laser out of the sky and returned it 5 yards for a score which sealed
That's not the only gift from
Bruschi. He also bought his mother, Juanita, a house in Las Vegas. Bruschi
returns to Vegas when the season ends, but still spends much of the year in New
England with his wife, Heidi, and sons, Tedy Jr. and Rex.
``We're adopted New
Englanders,'' he said with a laugh. ``This is home.''
Said MacDuff: ``What you see is
what you get with Tedy. He's very sincere, a good person, a good father and a
good husband who values family and friendship. His life is in balance. And when
it's time to put the uniform on to play football, he becomes very competitive in
everything he does.''
Just as his style is unique on
the field, Bruschi is unlike most other NFL players in that he hasn't hired an
agent over the last five years, a span in which he's negotiated three contracts
``I'm comfortable to go in
there, we look each other in the eyes, and we'll work it out,'' he said. ``The
Patriots have always treated me with respect.''
It was the sport Bruschi first
played as a youngster in San Francisco, dodging tacklers and sprinkler heads at
the same time. He had no idea it could lead to this, where the stage is bigger,
the money better, the life more secure. Yet perhaps most admirable is that
Bruschi still plays as if he's on the community circle.
``Ripped clothes, muddy clothes, bloody knees - those were fun times,'' he said. ``I'm the same guy.''
FOXBOROUGH -- He caught the ball precisely the way it was diagrammed
Tedy Bruschi was elated. This was exactly what he'd worked toward, a big play in a big game to prove to his coach, Bill Parcells, that he belonged on this football team, that he wasn't too short, or too slight, or too young to be an impact player.
He knew Parcells had been hesitant to draft him. He was used to doubters surveying him at a shade over 6 feet, and 245 pounds, and wondering aloud how he would ever be able to rush the quarterback successfully. Bruschi wanted to play defensive end in college, but the recruiters kept politely correcting him. No, son. You won't be able to do that at the next level.
When the Arizona staff agreed to give the kid a shot at his desired position, he promised them they would never regret it. He immersed himself in the middle of a defensive crew called the "Desert Swarm," and tied the all-time Division 1A record for career quarterback sacks with 52.
The pro scouts told him again he was too small to be a defensive end, and this time, Bruschi was forced to listen. The New England Patriots drafted him in the third round, prepared to use him on special teams and specific third-down situations.
So there he was, in 1996, playing for the Patriots in a pivotal game against the Denver Broncos, and Parcells was calling for a fake punt. Tom Tupa performed his role beautifully, winding up as if to boom the ball down the field, before jerking the ball away, and tossing it to Bruschi, the rookie.
It was absolutely perfect -- until Bruschi dropped the ball.
"That was the low point of my career," Bruschi said. "I had it. I had it in the bread basket, and someone knocked it out."
Defensive coordinator Al Groh groaned. He stood 8 feet away from his pupil on the sideline, tapping him on the helmet as he came off the field.
"You could see how badly it hurt him," Groh said. "It was so unusual he dropped it, because usually when you gave Tedy a job, he did it right. He took pride in that."
As he retreated to the sideline Bruschi looked up to see Parcells towering over him.
"Hold onto the ball!" Parcells growled. "Hold onto the damn ball!"
Earning a reputation
Bruschi has been in the league eight years now. He has eight career interceptions, and became the first linebacker in team history to return two interceptions for touchdowns last season. He did it again this year, including the aerial snag he made against Miami Dec. 7 that unleashed an impromptu snow shower among the euphoric Patriots fans. Bruschi also finished second in tackles (127) behind Rodney Harrison. He is not a situational player.
"He's a perpetual motion machine," fellow linebacker Ted Johnson said. "His energy is undeniable. It's always there. And he has this inner confidence."
"I'm no longer an NFL guy," said Groh, who coaches the University of Virginia, "but I've got to believe he's one of the best players in the league."
"He is someone," said defensive end Richard Seymour, "who knows how to make big plays."
He is someone who has learned how to hold onto the ball.
"I can't tell you how many times I've gone back to that play against Denver," said Bruschi. "Whenever I start feeling really good about myself, I remember that game. I remember where I came from. And I get to work again."
Bruschi is no longer underrated, underappreciated, or undervalued. He has come to symbolize the spirit and heart of this 2003 Patriots team as it prepares a run for the Super Bowl, beginning tomorrow night against Tennessee. Unlike 2001, when New England stunned heavily favored St. Louis to win its first championship, the Patriots are the trendy team now. They are expected to win, and players like Tedy Bruschi are expected to perform.
This is not a problem. Bruschi tackles each game, Johnson says, "with a certain joie de vivre. He loves to play."
Almost nine years ago, Groh went to the East-West college All-Star game to watch his son Michael. He left with images of Bruschi pulsating in his head.
"I was immediately intrigued by him," Groh said. "I noticed two things. The first was how everyone from the West team gravitated toward Tedy. They had only been together four or five days, but here was this bunch of All-Stars, looking to this guy as their leader.
"The second thing was his unbridled enthusiasm for the game. It was hard to miss. He performed in their practice like he was in the middle of a playoff game, and that was eye catching."
Groh reported his findings to Parcells. Assistant coach Bill Belichick watched film of Bruschi and liked what he saw. Parcells deferred to his two respected colleagues, but still had questions about Bruschi's lack of size.
"I couldn't blame Bill," Groh said. "You looked at him, and you said, `OK, he's this height, he's this weight, where on earth would this guy work?' I wasn't sure where, but my feeling was, `Let's not dismiss him.' "
As soon as the Patriots drafted him, Bruschi identified the two daunting tasks in front of him: a new position to learn, and a new coach to convince.
"I remember the call well," said Bruschi, smiling. "The person on the phone said, `Tedy, here is Bill Parcells.' Bill got on and said, `Tedy, we're going to try you at linebacker. Here's Al Groh.' And that was it."
His first days in camp were a jumble of confusion. When the coaches told him to pick up the hook (a receiver curling into the middle of the field), Bruschi looked at him blankly. Yet he compensated for his inexperience with a plethora of other traits that Belichick quickly identified.
"He was very quick, very smart, very instinctive," Belichick said. "You can ask him to do something he's never done before, and then you watch him, and you find yourself saying, `For a guy that's never done it, that's not bad.' So you give him something else, and he does that, too."
"You have to give Al Groh and Bill Belichick all the credit for Tedy Bruschi," Parcells said. "They saw something, and developed a role for him."
His teammates have gravitated toward him much the way they did in that college All-Star game. Bruschi was an emotional spokesman when Lawyer Milloy was released. He is the boss of a close-knit corps of linebackers. He is behind many practical jokes, including the one that left a podium strategically placed in front of linebacker Mike Vrabel's locker the day after he had a big game against Cleveland, and was summoned to the interview room.
"I knew it was Tedy," Vrabel said. "I didn't even have to ask."
Bruschi will appear in his 10th postseason game tomorrow night for the Patriots, his fifth as a starter. As he's evolved into an elite defender -- one who shifted first from defensive end to outside linebacker, then last year to the inside -- he has helped establish a new trend toward sleeker, smaller, quicker linebackers.
"Bill [Belichick] and I were talking about this the other day," said Parcells. "Tedy is sort of a hybrid player. Guys like him, who are versatile, dedicated, able to do different things, aren't that plentiful in this league. I've got [middle linebacker] Dat Nguyen in Dallas, but even he's a little different from Bruschi."
Nguyen is different because he played linebacker in college. Few -- if any -- of the other hybrid linebackers made the switch from defensive end.
"I guess that's what I sort of hang my hat on," Bruschi said. "Maybe I was one of the first so-called `projects' that really opened the door for other guys. When the All-Pro team came out, you had [Baltimore linebacker] Ray Lewis, who is on a different level. But the other first-team guy was [Miami linebacker] Zach Thomas, and the second-team guys were me and Dat Nguyen. All three of us are a little undersized, `I was like, `Yeah, guys, we did it.' "
Hold onto the ball. He has come so far since then. Told that Bruschi still dwells on that play from his rookie year, Groh said the one he remembers from that season was in the AFC Championship against Jacksonville.
"It had snowed about 20 inches," Groh recalled. "Back then, [quarterback] Mark Brunell was still a pretty active quarterback. We were in a defensive scheme called 5 Robber. Because of Tedy's excellent athletic ability, and his instincts, he was the `robber.' If Brunell ran, Tedy would hunt him down. But if Brunell stayed in the pocket, Tedy was to sit back as the `robber' and try to steal anything he could in pass coverage.
"I remember the play very well. When Brunell dropped back, Tedy had his eyes fixed right on him. I just knew he was going to pick it off."
Bruschi intercepted Brunell's pass, ran it 12 yards up the field, then clutched the football close as his teammates mobbed him from the sideline. Parcells, with a hint of a smile, nodded his approval.
"That play brought some closure for me," Bruschi said. "It was in the same area of the field as the ball I dropped, right in front of our bench. When I held onto the ball, I said to myself, `OK. Poetic justice.' "
New England was spanked by Green Bay in the Super Bowl that season. Parcells left to coach the Jets and took Belichick and Groh with him.
Would Parcells have ever guessed after his one and only year with Bruschi that the kid would turn into a second-team All-Pro linebacker?
"No, I don't think I could have ever determined that," Parcells admitted. "Back then, you loved his attitude, and you hoped he could help you, but he's exceeded everything you could have ever expected. Because of what he's done, other teams look at the Patriots and say, `Maybe we could use a guy like Bruschi on our team.' That's the highest compliment I could give him."
Groh, who also uses a 3-4 defense in Virginia, watches the Patriots every chance he gets. He takes great delight in watching Bruschi pick off balls. Each interception reminds him of that snowy day against Jacksonville.
"Drafting Tedy was like buying a stock before it had shown a profit," Groh said. "In the personnel business, you've got to be careful about projecting someone into a totally different position. If I hadn't seen him at that East-West game, I probably wouldn't have recommended it. But anyone who has ever watched Tedy walks away saying, `There's something about that guy.' "
Bruschi's current head coach understands. As far back as 1996, Belichick had a feeling about the brash, committed, emotional kid.
"Honestly, Tedy is the kind of guy you don't ever want to count out," Belichick said.
When he lines up against the Tennessee Titans tomorrow night, Bruschi will have his eyes fixed on Steve McNair, waiting for the moment when his instincts take hold. There may or may not be an opportunity to pick off a pass.
Hold onto the ball. Really, now. Is there any doubt he will?
Playoff Game Breakers
Some players can set the tempo for a game or produce the big plays to break it open. Here are eight difference-makers to keep an eye on this weekend:
New England Patriots
Tedy Bruschi has reached a comfort zone. Not that he is ever satisfied with his play, which has been outstanding all season, but he's comfortable in his position and his role, which includes just about everything on the Patriots' complex defense, a unit that allowed the fewest points (238) in the league.
Bruschi is an underrated linebacker who, after eight seasons learning his position following a collegiate career as a defensive tackle, is emerging into a Pro Bowl-caliber player and the Patriots' defensive leader.
"Bruschi has had a great season," coach Bill Belichick says. "He's done a terrific job for us all the way around. He is a leader, the defensive signal caller; he makes adjustments to the defense. He's been solid against the run and the pass as well as in the kicking game."
Bruschi took his on-field exploits to a new level in 2003, posting 137 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions (two of which he returned for touchdowns), 16 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He is a high-motor, play-making machine who even played as an interior down lineman in rushing situations early in the season.
Bruschi, who will play his 10th playoff game this weekend, actually started the year in a three-man rotation in the middle of the Patriots' 3-4 front, but Ted Johnson's Week 1 injury put more on Bruschi's shoulders. He carried the weight, then some.
"As I have learned the position and become more comfortable playing linebacker, the more I've been able to do and the more big plays I've been able to make," Bruschi says. "I started making interceptions, sacks and touchdowns and they just came with my development. Because I'm feeling comfortable, I can let loose out there."
Patriots succeed with an All-Joe mentality
By Larry Weisman, USA TODAY
For 11 years, USA TODAY's All-Joe team espoused the simple values: hard work, humility, even anonymity. This time around, the New England Patriots beat us to it. The All-Joe team honors the overlooked, the ignored, the determined players who might not make the Pro Bowl but contribute mightily on every snap. That's exactly how the Patriots rolled to 12 consecutive victories and a 14-2 record that was the NFL's best.
The Patriots placed four players on the All-Joe team, tying with the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers for the most. Every team was represented by a player or a coach.
Only two Patriots — defensive lineman Richard Seymour and cornerback Ty Law — earned Pro Bowl bids, a stunningly small number for a team with more victories than any other. This ability to put ego aside is the hallmark of the All-Joe team and truly at the heart of any competitive group built on a broad foundation.
I don't think we have very grand illusions of ourselves," All-Joe quarterback Tom Brady says. "I don't think we put ourselves on this pedestal of being unbeatable or being great players. I think we pride ourselves on a little bit of humility and being a good player and contributing in whatever your role is on the team."
QB — Tom Brady, New England
The Pats are 14-2, and Brady steers the ship
ILB — Tedy Bruschi, New England
Look for him in the passing lanes
OLB — Mike Vrabel, New England
Can run, cover or play at point of attack
FS — Eugene Wilson, New England
College corner had never played this position
Graphic accompanying Globe story about the weather.
After the game the Patriots did not have the look of a team that was a win away from the Super Bowl. "We're not jumping for joy in here," Tedy Bruschi said. "We know what we want to do. We're just one step closer."
Another day, another dollar for the ultra-clutch Pats. ``Whatever it is we have to do, I feel like we can do it,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] said. Bruschi was asked if there was anything more he could ask for. ``The trophy,'' he said. ``We want to be the last team standing.''
``When he started limping, everyone was like, `C'mon Steve. Everyone knows you're OK,''' Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. ``He gets hit and keeps coming.''
''We changed it up a little bit,'' said Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who led New England with nine tackles. ''We were playing off them a little bit to start, but it starts to get gut-check time when they get in field-goal range, and we've got to go.''
And go they did with a blitz that put pressure on McNair as he released a nearly 30-yard pass to Drew Bennett. The pass bounced off Bennett's fingertips before the defenders actually hit him, but Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel drilled Bennett just to make sure. The reception would have put the Titans inside the red zone with a little more than a minute and a half to play.
''I think Asante did a great job with that,'' Bruschi said. ''He had some plays a little bit earlier in the game where he missed some tackles and I am sure he wanted to make a big play and he did.''
Old reliable hits fourth-quarter field goal to chill Titans
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
January 11, 2004
Linebacker Willie McGinest sniffed out the play for a 10-yard loss, however, and two plays and two yards later the Titans were forced to punt.
"We were like, 'Hey, this is the situation we're in. Let's deal with it,' " Bruschi said. "Whatever the situation is, just deal with it on that down. After Willie made the play, we were like, 'OK, what's the down now? Let's not get too excited about making a big play. Let's just move on to the next play.' "
As well as the next game.
Published: January 11, 2004
The Patriots had enough work to do Saturday night against the Titans.
The play that seemed to make all the difference was made by New England middle linebacker Tedy Bruschi, whose last name Patriots fans love to chant after he makes a tackle. Bruschi flung himself at McNair as he prepared to throw a pass.
McNair never had time to spot his receivers, and he had to throw the ball out of bounds. The 10-yard intentional-grounding penalty was followed by a 10-yard holding penalty, and Tennessee suddenly faced a third-and-23.
"That's a pressure that we make," Bruschi said. "I had to make a move on the offensive lineman to get there. I don't think McNair expected me to get there so fast."
AFC: Patriots' Vinatieri leaves Titans in deep freeze
Sunday, January 11, 203
BY DAVE HUTCHINSON
But the Patriots unleashed their blitz, and linebacker Tedy Bruschi forced Titans quarterback Steve McNair into an intentional grounding call. Then, on third down, Bruschi came again and got a holding call on Titans right guard Benji Olson.
On fourth-and-12 from the Patriots' 42-yard line, McNair's desperation heave to wide receiver Drew Bennett was knocked lose by Patriots rookie cornerback Asante Samuel. Bennett had both hands on the ball and perhaps should've held on.
"Once they started getting close, we called a couple of pressure calls and they worked out for us," Bruschi said. "It was just a pressure call we made (on the intentional grounding). I had to make a move and I don't think McNair expected me to be there that fast."
Both Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (21 of 41 for 201 yards, one TD and no interceptions) and McNair (18 of 26 for 210 yards, one TD, one pick) threw the ball as if it was 80 degrees and sunny. There were just two turnovers in the game -- an interception by McNair and a lost fumble by the Patriots.
"It was cold," Brady said. "It was probably the coldest game I've ever played in. But it wasn't too windy. If it was windy, it would've been tough."
Said Bruschi: "I don't think it was that bad, to tell you the truth. I see 60,000 people out there and they don't have heated benches."
But all week, as the arctic wind corkscrewed through Gillette Stadium injecting practice sessions with briskness and high spirits, the subject of the home field became subject to some debate.
"Well, we're at our best when we're at home, but still it all comes down to how you play the game on that home field," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "You still have to play your best game. But it's nice being here."
NFL Total Access analyst Seth Joyner
TY LAW on Tedy:
Joyner: You guys do a lot of different things on defense. What is it about this team that allows you to be so versatile?
Law: I think just everyone's willingness to do anything. You got a guy like Tedy Bruschi, who is probably the MVP of the defense, doing all the things that he can do. He'll line up at middle linebacker then he'll go to outside linebacker and he can play down linemen.
By MARK CANNIZZARO
More indicative of the mission the Patriots are on were the reactions of their players in the postgame locker room. There was no wild celebration. There was no Super Bowl talk. There wasn't a single sign of anyone looking ahead.
"We're not jumping for joy in here," LB Tedy Bruschi said. "We know what we want to do. We're just one step closer."
When asked if this run by the Patriots is at all reminiscent of their march to the Super Bowl two Januarys ago, Bruschi said, "No. We're a team that lives in the now."
The Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon, in regards to the coldest game in Patriots history, quotes Tedy Bruschi as saying, “"I saw 60,000 people sitting up there, and their benches weren't heated. That was enough motivation for me to play." It was indeed an impressive showing from Pats fans. Even in the club section, where nearly every seat was banged out. God bless the fans in the upper deck, where the wind certainly dropped the temperature to 10-below. And if it’s the same weather again this weekend, you know that they’ll all be right back at it again.
They are a team I highly respect because they are so much like us. They are a physical team that wants to keep hitting you to see who can win in the fourth quarter." Tedy Bruschi, Patriots linebacker, on the Titans
"With any free agent, you wonder how he's going to fit in. There's always questions at first. He answered those right away," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "I think, from Day 1, he's established himself as a force with big hits."
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
BY DAVE HUTCHINSON
It's no coincidence that New England Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi had a front-row view of two of the biggest plays in Saturday's 17-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans in their AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium.
After all, he has been in the eye of the storm that is the Patriots defense all season. With two minutes to play, the Titans had a second-and-three at the Patriots' 33-yard line. But Bruschi busted through on the blitz and forced Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair into an intentional grounding penalty that cost the Titans 10 yards and a loss of down.
Then, on third-and-13 from the New England 43, Bruschi drew a holding call on another blitz. That left the Titans with a third-and-23 at the Tennessee 47, and they turned the ball over on downs two plays later. Bruschi finished with a team-high nine tackles, two for no gain, and several quarterback pressures.
"Once they started getting close we called a couple of pressure calls and they worked out for us," Bruschi said.
Clutch plays from Bruschi are what his teammates have come to expect from the eighth-year pro.
"It didn't surprise me -- nothing Bruschi does surprises me," Patriots Pro Bowl defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. "We just brought some pressure and he was able to get there and make some plays for us. That's something he has been doing all year. I'm just glad he's on my side of the ball.
"He's a guy who not only does it in the games, he does it in practice as well. He's the ultimate professional. Ever since I got here I've never seen him take anything for granted. He's always giving 110 percent, flying around, taking care of his body, doing all the things it takes to be a professional. And he's an emotional guy."
Bruschi and the Patriots' swarming, scheming defense will try to cool off red-hot quarterback Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday afternoon at Gillette, in temperatures expected to be near zero degrees again.
Manning, the league co-MVP, is 44-of-56 in two postseason games for 681 yards and eight touchdowns. The Colts have yet to punt in the playoffs.
In a 38-34 loss to the Patriots at Indianapolis on Nov. 30, Manning hit 29 of 48 passes for 278 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. The Colts' 34 points were the most scored against New England (15-2) this season.
Indianapolis (14-4) ranked first in the NFL in passing (261.2 yards per game) and were tied for second in scoring (27.9 points per game).
Bruschi, 6 feet, 245 pounds, is a fifth-year starter and perhaps one of the most underrated players on the Patriots defense. His dual ability to rush the passer and drop back in pass coverage is one of the keys to the Patriots' success.
A third-round pick in 1996, he's among the first of a recent breed of small, quick inside linebackers now dominating the NFL landscape.
"I guess that's what I sort of hang my hat on," Bruschi said. "Maybe I was one of the first so-called 'projects' that really opened the door for other guys."
This season, Bruschi finished with 137 tackles (second on the team), two sacks and three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns (a club record) and was among the Patriots' Pro Bowl snubs.
He also has three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and filed the void left by a season-ending hip injury to linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, the Patriots' prized free-agent signee this off-season.
"He's our leader, he's a vocal leader," Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law said. "He's an inspirational lead. He's everything to this defense. We have a lot of guys who step up in a leadership role, but Bruschi is the man in the middle. He took on that role and he ran with it. It's kind of like (quarterback) Tom Brady on the offense. We go where he goes."
Said Seymour: "He's starting to get some recognition. The more he plays in big games, the more people will see he's an excellent linebacker. I think he sacrifices a lot, he does a lot for our team. Whether he gets the recognition or not at this point, he gets a lot of recognition around here."
Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has agreed to a three-year extension to remain in New England if he doesn't get a head-coaching job. The deal is believed to be worth near $1 million per season. ... LB/DE Willie McGinest was named to the Pro Bowl, replacing injured Baltimore LB Peter Boulware (knee). ... SS Rodney Harrison, who replaced the departed Lawyer Milloy, had an interception and five tackles against Tennessee. He had a team-high 140 tackles and three interceptions this season.
Pats Locker Room Quotes
14 Jan 04 / by New England Patriots
(Bruschi on Ted Washington's effect on the Patriots' defense)
“Sometimes he just clears it up. He clears it up sometimes when the offensive linemen are paying a lot of attention to him. I can just go ahead a run and sort of be free. So he's been a great addition for us this year. He's out there making tackles, too. I mean, Ted's the type of player, he's not just going to take a block and he's done. He's the one that he's going to take a block, shed some blocks and also make tackles.”
(Bruschi on Peyton Manning's clock management and audibling)
“It seems like nothing throws him off. The crowd in Kansas City is one of the loudest in the league and he's out there making audibles and adjusting on the fly and doing a great job of it. He was just playing in a comfort zone where he could communicate well with his guys.”
(Bruschi on his not fitting the usual mold of an NFL linebacker coming out of college)
“The two things I depend on playing football are instincts and intelligence. I didn't have prototypical numbers coming out of the draft or anything like that as a defensive end. I knew how to play the game. I knew how to play defensive football. That's getting to the ball and tackling whoever has it. I felt like I had a feel for that. It took me a couple of years to get used to it once they switched me to linebacker but now I feel I can use my instincts and intelligence and start making some big plays for us also.”
(Bruschi on the margin needed for victory in the playoffs)
“Looking at the regular season in the NFL, a majority of the games are close. No matter who is playing, one of the top teams or one of the lower echelon teams. So in the playoffs it's just magnified. I expect every game to be close from here on out.”
(Bruschi on the goal line stand versus the Colts last time the teams played)
“I'm sure that's a motivating factor for them right there, 'We were one yard from beating these guys, so let's get that one yard.' We're over here saying, 'You're still not going to get it.' That's what's going to be decided on Sunday.”
Plays are the thing
Dungy offered kudos to Patriots playmaking linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "I remember him coming out of school and he was a playmaker there," said Dungy. "Guys who make plays at that level generally make them at the next level. As a defensive coach, you look for guys that can make plays."
He's heard all the tributes thrown at Bill Belichick and Romeo Crennel, and he certainly appreciates their expertise. But to him there is a more basic reason for the Patriots' defensive success.
"It's the players," he says. "[Tedy] Bruschi is overlooked and underappreciated. Willie McGinest, to me, has always been awesome. Mike Vrabel is underrated. They have a lot of really good players."
"Bruschi is so overlooked and underrated; he's an excellent player," Manning said.
Woody doubtful, Hochstein could start
14 Jan 04 / by Andy Hart, Patriots Football Weekly
With the current frigid temperatures in New England and a game forecast for temperatures in the 20s, the cold weather is still a hot topic in the locker room. One the players feel is overrated. “You just go play,” Brown said. “There is nothing you can do. Just go out there and play. That's what we get paid to do is play football. Whatever the conditions, then that is what we were given and that's where we have to go out and perform.” “As cold as it's going to be for them, it's going to be just as cold for us,” linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. “We are up here. We are in it. We are used to it. But it's not going to be that big of a factor.”
A Look At Four Super Matchups
The best player not too many people have heard about might be Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
2 Titans find Pats mighty tough
1:00 AM EST on Wednesday, January 14, 2004
With the New England defense, you never know what personnel grouping is in there and what they'll do out of it," says Heimerdinger. "You have to be sound in what you're doing and have [everybody accounted for]. "They're playing confident and they have good people. They like to play the 'overlooked' card, but they're not bad with Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Ted Washington. The secondary has been unbelievable, especially with [Eugene] Wilson moving from corner to safety and playing as well as he has. Rodney Harrison, everyone knows.
has watched a Colts game this season has witnessed the endless adjustments,
audibles and histrionics that quarterback Peyton Manning goes through
before every snap. Quite literally Indianapolis' high-powered offense, and any
success it achieves, starts and ends with Manning.
And while questions sometimes arise as to how much of what Manning goes through is useful football strategy and how much is theater intended to confuse opponents, his pre-snap ritual is something the New England defense will have to deal with in its overall attempt to stop a Colts offense that has exploded through the first two games of the postseason.
“That's just Peyton being Peyton,” linebacker Tedy Bruschi
said. “That's just him running the show. He is a guy that tells people what play
to run, how to run it, what snap count it's on and by the way OK let's change
that and let's run this audible. That's just what he's done and that's what he's
been successful with.”
Bruschi doesn't believe the Patriots can fall into the trap of trying to do too much disguising against Manning, at the cost of losing defensive focus on making plays.
“You are aware of it,” Bruschi said. “You are aware of it and you are conscious of it, but the one thing you just have to be is focused on the defense that is called on that particular play and play that as best you can.”
“You can't get caught up in what he's doing,” linebacker Mike Vrabel said of Manning's antics. “You just have to understand what they're trying to do and execute your plan.”
That execution and confidence to allow Manning to go through his motions begins with a defense that is properly prepared for the matchup.
“They are explosive at every position,” Bruschi said. “The running backs, the receivers, (Marcus) Pollard is a good tight end also. So everyone is going to have to bring their best game this Sunday to win. We are going to watch our film and we'll be prepared, but going out there and executing on Sunday, that's the key thing.”
"I know Peyton Manning," Harrison answered.
A few lockers away, a thoughtful Tedy Bruschi was saying to be the best team, you've got to beat the best challenges. "And Peyton Manning's not only MVP," Bruschi said, "he's the smartest player in the league."
Bruschi was in full blitz of superlative now and in no mood to slow down. Remember the St. Louis Rams offense the Patriots faced in the Super Bowl two years ago? The Greatest Show on Turf?
"The Colts are more explosive than the Rams were," Bruschi said. "They haven't punted once in two playoff games."
Yet only 20 feet away, a diamond sparkling in his left ear, Harrison was sitting there, wearing one of those Alfred E. Newman smiles. What, Rodney worry?
"Of course we feel like we can stop them," Harrison said. "No one man is invincible."
A Pat answer for Manning: Two can play same game
01:00 AM EST on Friday, January 16, 2004
Manning is a magician at the line of scrimmage, and the Patriots will have to stay calm as the Colts' quarterback calls the signals.
"We'll still have to adjust," said Tedy Bruschi. "We'll be making adjustments on the fly out there, just like Manning is doing when he's calling audibles. When he's calling audibles, we'll be looking to see what formation they're in and see what they're doing. They won't be in a huddle, so we won't be in a huddle, and we will react from there."
Vrabel, Willie McGinest, Roman Phifer and Rodney Harrison have called audibles for the Pats this season.
"Veteran leadership right there," said Bruschi. "This isn't the first time we're playing in a championship game. We've been here before, and it's just about staying calm, seeing what they're doing and reacting. If there's a problem, we adjust on the sideline."
The Colts have had plenty of momentum on offense all season, and have blown out some of their opponents. So the Patriots' defense will have to find a way to stifle that energy, and they have a pretty good idea how to do it.
"First, you want to stop their big plays," said Bruschi. "Their big plays have been plentiful in the playoffs, and we hope to limit those."
New England doesn't want to play a game of cat and mouse with Manning and the Colts' offense. Bruschi said that in order for the defensive unit to be successful, it will have to be technically sound and play its cards close to the vest.
"They do a lot of things," Bruschi said. "They do so many things, we have to realize we're going to have to adjust and be mentally sharp."Projo.com | Providence | Patriots
Patriots learn from the first meeting
By Glen Farley, Enterprise staff writer
FOXBORO — It was a microcosm of their current playoff run.
"The thing I took out of that game is they won't quit," Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "No matter how many points they're down by, no matter what the situation is, Peyton is still going to be back there keeping those guys focused and telling them, 'We can still get this done."
BOSTON -- Blame the Big Dig if you want. Blame Friday evening traffic in Boston. Blame it on the fact that the NFL decided to set up its AFC Championship game headquarters at an airport hotel, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick was late for his afternoon press conference with the media today at the Boston Hyatt Harborside. So instead, an out-of-town reporter asked Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi if the NFL Coach of the Year were present, what would he have to say?
Bruschi didn’t bite.
“Come on man,” he said. “I could entertain you for a bit but I’m going to pass on that. We’ll save that for the locker room.”
The response drew a chunk of laughter from the crowd, but the irony is that Bruschi is one of the most studious disciples of the Belichick way in the Patriots locker room, toeing the coach’s line of focusing on one game at a time, never looking ahead.
In fact, when asked about New England’s current 13-game winning streak, Bruschi replied, “We look at it as winning one in a row 13 times.”
Bruschi was asked if he would stack the Colts’ attack up with that of St. Louis’ two years ago.
“I think the Colts are even hotter than the Rams were back then,” he said
Tedy on Manning:
"It's ridiculous," said New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "I haven't seen a quarterback as hot as he has been. He is on fire."
Manning on Tedy:
“You look at that defense and see a bunch of talented players making plays,” Manning said. “Tedy Bruschi is one of the top middle linebackers in football who sometimes gets overlooked because of Ray Lewis and Zach Thomas."
Q: How much do you guys look forward to the challenge of trying to
eliminate the hottest quarterbacks ?? one of the hottest quarterbacks in playoff
TB: You got Peyton this week, Steve McNair last week, one MVP after the other. It is a challenge for us, and we step up to the challenge a little bit more knowing Peyton has been as hot as he is, eight touchdowns, 12 incompletions the last two weeks. I haven't seen a quarterback as hot as he has been. He is on fire.
That's something we sort of look forward to is we shut one down last week and hopefully we can shut another one down this week.
Q: Hey, Ted, having played Peyton before, how important is it for you guys to get on him early get in his face and take some time away from him?
TB: That's something you always want to do, put some pressure on him, but like we have seen on film, they have got a free run to the quarterback, and he has got such a quick read of defenses. He is able to get the ball out, so even though you get pressure on him, he is still able to make plays.
I think one of the things we are going to do is play good defense and let our four down linemen do a good job because we are going to need an extra guy to cover all those fast receivers.
Q: What things have you noticed different from the first time you played the Colts to what you have seen the last two games of video?
TB: I think they are operating just at a higher level. I mean, the first time I think we had success against them, yeah, and Peyton was struggling at times, but the last two games you don't see them struggling at all. They are more efficient, they are highly confident and the way they are able to move up and down the field the last two weeks is something that's totally different than the way we played them. I mean, not having punted in two games, that's ridiculous.
Q: They are calling the Colts the road warriors, and 8-1 on the road you guys are perfect at home. How much tougher is it to be able to do that on the road than to keep it perfect at home?
TB: As good as they have been on the road, we have been just as good at home, and something has got to give Sunday. Those questions will be answered Sunday because when you get two teams that are playing as well as they are and we are, a great home team and a great away team, it's going to be fun for the fans to watch.
Q: Not in terms of the ability two years ago this time versus this year's team, but in terms of the experience, is it easier to prepare this time around because of the experience of a couple years ago?
TB: Yeah. I mean, you saw us in the locker room last week. We had one key divisional game to get us to the AFC championship, and we weren't jumping for joy in there. It's because a lot of the guys have been there before and we know what the big goal is. The goal that we want to get to, the game we want to get to. Last week was just a step, and this week is going to be a huge step for us, also, and hopefully we can take it.
Q: Along the same lines, Ted, as far as a couple years ago, more than any other game the last three years, this game resembles the greatest show on turf against the Patriots defense. Does that past success mean anything to you guys or is it two years old?
TB: It's two years old. That's the way I feel about that. I think the Colts are hotter than the Rams were back then. I know the Rams had done some historic things, three years in a row scoring 500 points, but the last two weeks, in terms of playoff football, the success about putting points on the board, that's something the Rams couldn't even match last time.
Q: There has been so much talk about Peyton this week. How much do you think that motivates a player like Tom?
TB: Well, I will let you ask Tom that question, but I think Tom is a player that's motivated no matter what situation it is. But one thing off that, the one thing, you talk about Peyton, you talk about the receivers, I think a guy that's sort of been forgotten is Edgerin James. The success he has had the last two week, the way he was able to run the ball in Kansas City, he is a guy we want to stop first and foremost. He hasn't even been talked about.
Q: One of the defenses is the way you mix things up and show quarterbacks different looks and at times confuse them. Is it next to impossible against a guy like Manning, who is known as such a hard quarterback?
TB: I think that's going to be very difficult to do because of the intelligence level Peyton has. You hear about the film studio he has at his house, so to fool him is going to be very difficult, because half the time I think he is trying to fool us, too, fool us with all the audibles and all the changes at the line of scrimmage. You don't know what's real and what's fake, so we are going to see what he is doing and we are going to execute the defense we have called on that particular play and not worry about anything else.
Q: The kind of winning streak you guys are on it doesn't happen in this league anymore. Does that take you to any kind of new level of confidence?
TB: Well, what's it been, 13 in a row, It's been 13 in a row, but we don't look at it that way. We sort of look at it as one in a row 13 times. That's the way we see it. That's the focus we have had throughout the year, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, all the way down the line. We are just looking at not the next game, but the next day, let's work well today, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and don't worry about the streak but just worry about the team that we are playing that particular week.
Q: Do you think that the weather won't be a factor for a dome team?
TB: No, because it's something we both have to deal with. It's going to be just as cold on their sideline. You got the heated benches. Players wear things to keep warm, so that's something we don't consider an advantage or a disadvantage.
Q: On a personal level, being in this game, how is this experience different this time?
TB: Like I said, after the Tennessee game, your first victory in the playoffs is big, your second one you feel excited about, but we have been a successful program here ever since we have gotten here. We have been up and down and able to come back up. Our expectation levels are very high. When you have won a big game, you have won so many before, you sort of look at it as we want to get to the bigger one.
Q: What's the one thing you have enjoyed the most about playing in this atmosphere, playing in these big games. What's the one thing you really like about it?
TB: Just that if you win it, it puts you in the big one. That's it. You know, it's fun to play in, it's exciting. The area is excited, but you have to look at it just the way you have looked at every other game. You prepare the same, you focus the same, and it just so happens to be the AFC championship game, and if we win this, we will get to the big one. You don't want to magnify it too big where you get too stressed out or too excited or too anxious or anything like that. Just realize we will get it done
There may have only been another 48 hours to go before the Patriots and Colts faced each other in tomorrow's AFC Championship game, but as Tedy Bruschi waited yesterday afternoon for his turn to speak at the pregame press conference, it looked as if the final hours before kickoff would be sheer torture for the eight-year veteran.
With Willie McGinest at the podium just a few feet to his left, Bruschi anxiously bounced his right leg up and down. His eyes tore into the carpet in front of him. And every couple of seconds he tugged on his shirt collar as if a hard enough pull would suddenly make it game time.
As Bruschi quietly sat in the ballroom at the Hyatt Harborside, it became evident he was ready to take the field then and there.
"I said after the Tennessee game that your first victory in the playoffs is big, your second one you feel excited about, but we have been a successful program here ever since I got here," Bruschi said. "We have been up and down and able to come back up. Our expectation levels are high. When you have won a big game before, you sort of look at it as we want to get to the bigger one."
In order for the Patriots to get to that bigger one, they will have to stop a Colts team that is coming to Foxborough full of confidence.
Bruschi has heard enough about the Colts offense that has put up 78 points in its two playoff games.
"You got Peyton [Manning] this week, Steve McNair last week, one MVP after another," Bruschi said. "It is a challenge for us and we have to step up to the challenge a little more knowing Peyton has been as hot as he has -- eight touchdowns, 12 incompletions the last two weeks. I haven't seen a quarterback as hot as he is."
By torching Denver and Kansas City in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Manning justified his MVP status.
The one thing Manning has done only once in the postseason is take a sack. The Broncos and Chiefs learned the hard way that if given enough time, Manning will pick apart a defense before the pressure gets to him.
"That's something that you always want to do, put pressure on him," Bruschi said. "But like we have seen on film, when they have got a free run to the quarterback, he has got such a quick read of defenses . . . he is still able to make plays."
In this season's first meeting, Nov. 30 at the RCA Dome, the Patriots were able to contain Manning and the Colts offense for the first 2 1/2 quarters.
Then Manning made a few plays, got comfortable in the pocket, and the Patriots had to make a play on the goal line to preserve the victory.
Now, however, the Colts offense appears to be firing on all cylinders.
"I think they are operating at just a higher level," Bruschi said. "They are more efficient, they are more confident, and the way they have been able to move the ball up and down the field the last two weeks is something that is totally different than the way when we played them."
Bruschi wouldn't touch on any specifics of the Patriots' game plan but he feels the defensive line will have to play a big role.
"I think the one thing we are going to do is play good defense and let our four down linemen do a good job because we are going to need an extra guy to cover all those fast receivers," he said.
Manning knows what he's up against when he faces a New England defense that went four games at Gillette Stadium without giving up a touchdown this season. And he's aware of the large role Bruschi often played in that success.
"I think Bruschi is one of the top middle linebackers in the league and that he always gets overshadowed by Ray Lewis and Zach Thomas," Manning said.
But Bruschi would like to send another high-profile quarterback home for the season.
"That's something we look forward to," he said. "We shut one down last week and hopefully we can shut another one down this week."
Yes, I would say this is the most
intelligent team I've ever been around,'' linebacker Tedy
said. ``If you put knowledge in front of someone who can't grasp it, you're
wasting your time. I've seen players come in and out of here, you try to do the
same things with them, you try to give them the knowledge, you show them how to
prepare, and a year or two and they're not here anymore.
``The (coaches) give you the
knowledge, but what you do with it is important. We've got coaches asking us
questions in meetings. This is the formation, what do you expect? And (Mike)
Vrabel's knocking it out. Rodney (Harrison's) knocking it out.
Ted Johnson [news]
and myself are expecting what to see before we see it, so yes, I would say your
premise is correct.''
When it comes to the Patriots,
preparedness and application go hand-in-hand. If you think all the confusing
schemes and disguises Belichick and Romeo Crennel employ are tough for an
opposing quarterback to figure out, they're also pretty advanced for the
Patriots to digest.
This group in particular has really grasped all the intricacies. The players know the system, and make intelligent adjustments on the fly. They play smart football.
Bruschi lauds Colts
There have been a lot of
comparisons between the Colts and the 2001 St. Louis Rams team that the Pats
beat in the Super Bowl. Linebacker
Bruschi, for one,
believes the Colts are a tougher challenge.
``I think the Colts are more explosive than the Rams were,'' he said. ``The Rams had scored over 500 points (during the season), but they hadn't performed in the playoffs like the Colts have. Not having punted in two games? I mean, come on.''. . .
He almost became a "band geek," almost wore those hideous brown outfits, an instrument his badge of honor. In the months leading up to his junior year at Roseville High School, in 1989, Bruschi wondered if his real calling wasn't dabbling in something that belied his brutish football behavior. So he'd ask himself on his walk home, "Will I massage the music and play the saxophone or pound the other guy legally?" He chose to pound, to ransack opposing schemes. And it's all been perfectly legal.
Bruschi embarked on a storied career that started with a trickle, picked up steam by the time he was becoming a legend as a Roseville senior and snowballed in the desert at the University of Arizona, where he was a cult hero, his long black mane snaking out of the back of his helmet as he pursued quarterbacks at a record clip. Bruschi's career is at a full avalanche now in the cold country.
Today, the middle linebacker and New England Patriots captain will direct his unyielding forces against the seemingly unstoppable offense that is the Indianapolis Colts. Should the Patriots win the AFC championship game in frosty Foxboro, Mass., Bruschi will be dancing to a familiar tune: the Super Bowl, his third since 1997.
"Here I am already in my eighth season," Bruschi, 30, said by phone the other day. "I can't believe it. I've had a great career. I look at my Roseville days, and we had our best teams when I was there. At Arizona, the school had their best teams when I was there. And now we're trying to get back to the Super Bowl. It's wild."
And to think it almost never came about. During Bruschi's early days, one thing was clear. He craved activity growing up in San Francisco. If it wasn't skateboarding down Golden Gate Avenue or hitching a trolley ride for a quarter, or tearing the house to bits with his older brother Tony, it was full-fledged physicality in front of the house.
Grass football, with no rules and no regard to common sense.
Bruschi and his pals would plow through each other and over sprinkler heads, ankles be damned, until they were reduced to muddy, bloody heaps. Bruschi pushed his motor deep into the red even then. When a gang member tried to pick a fight with Bruschi's brother after one of those football showdowns, Bruschi flew in and threatened to dismember the guy, who backpedaled and scurried off.
"Oh man, I loved those days," Bruschi said. "There's nothing better than grass football. Ripping the other guy's shirt off, tackling everyone for the heck of it. That's where it all started. We just loved to beat on each other."
Bruschi's mother, Juanita Sandys, seemed to tolerate those tussles, but when it came to the notion of actually putting on pads and cleats and a helmet and hitting for real, she shuddered. So she urged her son to dabble in something a little more tame, more civilized. Hello sax.
So, he was a player of notes before becoming a football player of note.
Bruschi liked music from the start, from his elementary school days when he was in the boys choir. And it's something he's brought back into his life, sort of a mellowing aspect to his football experiences. He leads the Patriots in tackles with 137, and he'll embrace that sax when he gets home, warding off his charging young sons, Tedy Jr., 3, and Rex, 22 months, to seek the comfort of the couch and some soft sounds. He'll entertain his wife, his Arizona sweetheart, Heidi, with any number of tunes.
And Bruschi knew music was back in his heart when he performed "Fizzwater," written by ragtime jazz pianist Eubie Blake, on his alto sax as part of a musical quintet at Symphony Hall in Boston just over a year ago.
A brawler with the sound of music?
"Yeah, can you believe it?" Bruschi said. "I had a great time playing at Symphony Hall. I'm glad I picked it up again. It was something that was important to my mom. People are surprised when I tell them I loved the old recital thing in high school, being in the band. I loved it."
That Bruschi even discovered football at Roseville is a compelling story in itself. His mother and stepfather, Ron Sandys, moved the family there for a safer environment. On the first day of school, an army of fellow freshmen was lining up to try on cleats. Someone dared Bruschi to give it a shot, which is like tempting a bear with a chunk of tri-tip. Bruschi pounced.
His mother wouldn't allow him to get cleats until he was absolutely certain he wanted to do this. He showed up for his first practice, in sneakers and a T-shirt, not having a clue as to what position he'd play. The Tigers' freshman coach then, Don Hicks, sized him up and proclaimed him a lineman.
"I'm a football type of guy, and I just took off," Bruschi said. "It trips me out because my mom wanted me to stay in the band. Once I started playing (football), I couldn't stop. I loved to whoop and holler. I wanted to hit people, to make plays."
Before his junior year, Bruschi decided he had to give up band, since it was at the same time as football. He still hung out with the band members and always said he was one of them.
In football, he became so good, so forceful, that the Roseville coaches forbade Bruschi from participating in live kickoff drills in practice out of fear for the poor guy about to greet him with a full head of steam. When Bruschi was a senior, his nickname at Roseville games was "Tedy Ball Game."
He was a defensive end who refused to be blocked, who possessed an amazing knack for altering a game without touching the ball.
Once, a classmate asked him what was so difficult about running up and down a football field. Replied Bruschi, "Well, for one, he's gotta deal with me."
No one could.
Bruschi beat teams by making sacks, by blocking kicks, by imposing his sheer will to make it his game. Years later, his impact remains proof of how a guy in the trenches can dominate. He was The Bee's choice as the greatest high school football player in area history in a 2000 story, which Bruschi says now is "still my greatest honor. I mean, I hang my hat on that."
For as good as he was as a prep, there wasn't much recruiting interest for an end deemed too short, too stumpy and too slow at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds. Only Arizona's Dick Tomey took a serious flyer, later saying of Bruschi, "The kid was just crazy, and you need that in football."
Bruschi headed the famed "Desert Storm" attack and helped launch the Wildcats into national prominence. He finished with 52 career sacks, still tied for the most in an NCAA career with Alabama's Derrick Thomas.
Bruschi's passion never waned. He credits his heritage, half-Filipino and half-Italian, and the size-matters theme. It clung to Bruschi as the 1996 NFL draft approached. Bruschi's attitude then and now is, "I've been an underdog since I came out of the womb."
Bill Parcells didn't care. Then the Patriots' coach, Parcells drafted Bruschi in the third round and told him he'd be a linebacker. Bruschi was a special-teams ace in the 1997 Super Bowl loss to Green Bay that ended his rookie campaign. He was a starting outside linebacker when New England downed St. Louis in the 2002 Super Bowl.
"Bruschi was a good football player, but we didn't know what to do with him," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick, an assistant in 1996. "Obviously, he's created a good role for himself and has had a great career."
Bruschi had to learn how to play linebacker, then how to play the inside. His teammates marvel at his tenacity and instincts. Fans love him. There are Web sites dedicated to him. There are roars of "Bruuuuuschi" throughout the stands. There is a sea of No. 54 jerseys, Bruschi's number, at home games.
He's knocking people around, and he's getting his hands on the ball, having returned four successive interceptions for touchdowns dating to last season, a Patriots record.
Bruschi gave Tennessee's Steve McNair fits in the divisional playoff round last week, lunging at the co-MVP on blitzes. Now he'll try to get his mitts on the other co-MVP, Peyton Manning.
"Something's gotta give," Bruschi said.
Larry Cunha, one of his Roseville coaches, will be on hand. Bruschi lives in the Boston area year-round but remains close to his Roseville roots, inviting Cunha and several family members and friends to come East.
"Tedy's as special as there is," Cunha said. "There's a tremendous amount of pride on our end when it comes to Tedy."
Bruschi's two young sons will not be on hand. Too young, he said. But they may be dabbling in a little music at home while wearing their dad's jersey.
"I tell my wife, Heidi, that I will not force my kids into sports," Bruschi said. "I want to steer them to other things, the arts, writing, singing. But they'll definitely be football players. I can see it with the way they move and trash the place. With music, I hope they can be a little more well-rounded, because it never hurt me."
Jan 18, 2004
FOXBORO, Mass. -- Tedy Bruschi's brown eyes are piercing, the first hint of the no-nonsense inside linebacker's toughness.
Told that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning considers Bruschi one of the best at his position, the linebacker takes the compliment without uttering a word. Then a reporter's suggestion that he's "underrated" sparks those eyes, as if he's burning a hole straight through a person he would love to tackle.
"I don't care. I don't care what rating anyone puts on me," said Bruschi, whose mission today is to stop Manning and the Colts' juggernaut offense in the AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium. "It's not about that with me. The only number I care about is what number is under the 'W' column. That's all I've been about my entire career."
At a stadium nicknamed The Razor, Bruschi has proven he can slice through the best of blockers and cut down anyone carrying the ball. The eighth-year pro's 137 tackles are one off his career high in 1999. He returned three interceptions for touchdowns. He forced three fumbles. He had two sacks. He had 16 passes defended.
The numbers didn't get him to the Pro Bowl because the AFC has two of the better linebackers in NFL history in Ray Lewis of Baltimore and Zach Thomas of Miami. But, again, Bruschi couldn't care less about going to Honolulu.
"Whatever I've got to do to help the team win, that's the attitude I have," he said. "I think collectively that's the attitude we have in this locker room. Let's not worry about going to this game or making this team or anything like that; let's just worry about winning the next game that's on your schedule."
Bruschi won a ring with the Patriots in the 2001 postseason. It was a memorable accomplishment for a third-round pick out of Arizona in 1996, a defensive end considered a "tweener" by scouts, a guy not big enough to play that position in the NFL and possibly not fast enough to play linebacker.
It took him four seasons to become a regular at linebacker. At 6-1 and 247 pounds, he will never be as fast as Lewis, but he doesn't have to be. He makes plays.
"Tedy Bruschi is a special talent," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "He just doesn't look the part."
Bruschi says it's about smarts.
"Two of the things that I really depend on in playing football are instincts and intelligence," he said. "I didn't have prototypical numbers coming out of the draft. But I knew how to play the game. I knew how to play defensive football. That's getting to the ball and just tackling whoever has it."
He's the leader on a defense with Pro Bowlers in cornerback Ty Law, defensive end Richard Seymour and outside linebacker Willie McGinest. The Patriots allowed just 81/2 points per game at The Razor in the regular season. Three visitors didn't score. From Oct. 12 on, Jacksonville scored the only touchdown.
The Patriots led the league in scoring defense at a franchise-record 14.9 points allowed per game. They were fourth in yards allowed per play at 4.4 and were second in net passing yards allowed per play at 5.2.
Bruschi's teammates see him as a catalyst. Bruschi is the only player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for scores.
"Tedy has been doing a good job for us all year," Seymour said. "Ever since I've been here, he's been a guy who gets the job done."
Another Patriots tough guy is outside linebacker Mike Vrabel, who had a career year with a team- and personal-best 91/2 sacks. He admires Bruschi's approach.
"Tedy understands that the respect that he gets from the guys in this room, from guys who play the game the way he does, that's all he wants," Vrabel said.
"He doesn't want it from a guy holding a microphone or from a guy holding a clipboard charting down-and-distance for the TV cameras. He doesn't want it from the fans. He gets it from his family and the guys he plays with."
Bruschi suggests he'll be barking at Manning when the Colts quarterback begins his no-huddle, audible sequence at the line of scrimmage.
"Maybe when he's calling a couple of audibles, I'll try to shout some things at him and try to throw him off a little," he said, laughing.
Manning will know what he's up against. He'll see determination in those brown eyes.
Greg Hansen: Bruschi is 'ultimate professional' in NFL
Arizona Daily Star 01/19/04
LOS ANGELES - Although Tedy Bruschi has yet to make the Pro Bowl like former UA standouts Darryll Lewis, Chris McAlister, Michael Bates and Chuck Cecil, he has established himself as the most high-profile ex-Wildcat ever to play in the NFL.
Attempting to get into his second Super Bowl today against Indianapolis, Bruschi has become as much a media star as a standout for the Patriots. He also finished fourth in AFC All-Pro balloting at inside linebacker.
On Wednesday, New England's All-Pro defensive tackle Richard Seymour told NFL reporters that Bruschi's value to the Patriots is inestimable. Seymour's quotes are among the most defining I have ever come across in sports. He said:
"Tedy's a guy who not only does it in games, he does it in practice as well. He's the ultimate professional. Ever since I got here, I've never seen him take anything for granted. He's always giving 100 percent, flying around, taking care of his body, doing all the things it takes to be a professional. And he's an emotional guy on top of that."
Bruschi, in his fifth year as a Patriots starter, and a two-time consensus All-American as an Arizona pass rusher, is married to ex-Sahuaro High School and UA volleyball standout Heidi Bomberger. New UA football coach Mike Stoops would do well to get close to Bruschi and invite him to spring workouts.
A team that has been short on commitment the last three seasons might listen to an undersized guy like Bruschi who has made it big on effort as much as anything else.
Hold the champagne
BY MARK FARINELLA / SUN CHRONICLE STAFF 01/19/04
FOXBORO -- There was no champagne flowing in the New England Patriots' locker room at Gillette Stadium Sunday evening.
That's been saved for Feb. 1 -- Super Bowl Sunday.
Until then, the champions of the American Football Conference will continue to approach this season as they have every step of the way -- one game at a time, one more challenge to overcome, and nothing else matters but the unfinished business of beating the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII at Houston's Reliant Stadium.
``I don't want any, either,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi said when asked where the bottles of bubbly were. ``We've got another game to win. I don't think anybody dumped any Gatorade on Bill (Belichick), either ... there are just a bunch of guys in this locker room who are used to being successful.''
The Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 24-14, on a snow-covered Sunday afternoon in Foxboro, for the right to play in their fourth Super Bowl and third since the 1996 season.
Yet for all their success in stopping the high-powered and overhyped offense of Peyton Manning and the Colts, they were content to slap a few high-fives, share a few hugs, wear broad smiles and otherwise enjoy the brief respite before practice begins anew.
It seemed to shock out-of-town reporters who expected to dodge geysers of champagne in a more traditional post-game celebration.
``We've never really cared what the perception of ourselves was,'' Bruschi said. ``It just mattered about how we felt about ourselves in this locker room and how we performed in between the white lines. We're used to success, and we expect to continue our success in Houston.''
For Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who bought the team in 1994 amid fears it was about to be moved to St. Louis, Sunday's victory was the fulfillment of everything he wanted his franchise to be when he opened Gillette Stadium in September 2002.
``When we opened Gillette Stadium, I told the fans and the season-ticket holders here today that they were the foundation of our franchise,'' Kraft said after accepting the Lamar Hunt Trophy, symbolic of the conference championship. ``And you won us points here today.
In essence, Kraft accepted the trophy on behalf of the 68,436 fans who made Gillette one of the toughest venues for opposing teams in the NFL.
``You came in the rain when we played the Giants and Cleveland,'' he said. ``You came with the snow for Miami and Jacksonville, you were there on the coldest day of the year last week, and you made the difference today, helping Coach Belichick and our great team go 12-0 at Gillette Stadium.''
Now having won 14 straight regular-season and playoff games to reach pro football's championship game for the second time in three years, the Patriots were being talked about in dynastic terms by the post-game pundits. But the ``big picture'' wasn't a popular topic inside their locker room Sunday -- nor will it be until the final seconds tick off the Reliant Stadium scoreboards two weeks from now.
``I don't want to get into that,'' Bruschi said. ``After the game in Houston, maybe we'll get into things like that. I'll let you guys speculate on things like that, but for us, we want to win another world's championship.''
BRUSCHI – LB
(On the defense) We didn't want top give their receivers to much freedom. We got our hands on them and got their jerseys dirty.
(On you did as a team different this time against the colts) We didn't do anything totally new just some wrinkles because if you put something in totally new the week of a big game there is a possibility of some miscommunication. I think there were some wrinkles he put in there that I do not want to go into details but I think it helped us out a lot on offense running the ball with Antowain , him taking care of the ball and getting some points in the red zone.
(talk about your defensive line) Well Vrabel and Willie are unbelievable out there, they can be defensive lineman they can be linebackers out there that just adds to the what some of our guys on defense can do.
(They say this is a big play team is this true) I wouldn't say we are a big play team I think that today we just pounded it at them and special teams just was physical with them and on offense and defense and that was it.
New York Post Online
PATS MAKE COLTS PEY SUPER PRICE
By MARK CANNIZZARO
"I don't like to use the word 'chess,' because that indicates finesse," Patriots' LB Tedy Bruschi added. "To us in this locker room we feel more like Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots."
The Patriots rocked Manning and they socked him, too, forcing five Colts turnovers, including a stunning four INTs by the Colts quarterback who'd entered the game having been almost perfect in his previous two playoff victories, throwing eight TDs and no INTs.
As he dressed quietly in front of his stall inside the jubilant but businesslike Patriots locker room, Bruschi was asked if he thought Manning (23-47, 237 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs, 35.5 rating) was rattled by the New England defense that has yielded a mere 96 points (six TDs) in 10 home games this season (all Patriots victories).
"You'd have to ask him, but how many picks did he throw ... four?" Bruschi said. "That's rattled."
Ironically, the Patriots' plan was much less about disguised coverages and blitz packages than it was about brute force.
"Our plan was to bloody their nose a little bit," Patriots' LB Willie McGinest said.
"The only thing you can beat speed with is power, and that's what we do," said Patriots' CB Ty Law, who picked off Manning three times.
"We wanted to beat them up," Bruschi said. "That was the goal. Run and hit. Just hit and hit and keep on hitting. If they had the ball, hit them. If they didn't have the ball, hit them."
Belichick wins because he hasn't lost sight of team
They'll have two weeks to come up with a game plan for Carolina. Whatever it is,
it won't surprise Bruschi. He's been a Patriots player for eight years and
thinks he's seen about everything Belichick can create.
"There's a handful of guys in here who have been here since '96," he said, referring to Super Bowl XXXI, which the Patriots lost to Green Bay. "I don't want to say we're used to it, but we've been a successful team. We've been down, but we've been able to claw ourselves back up. And here we are again."
"We got our hands on them and got their jerseys dirty," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi (news) said.
Defensive wrinkles took the starch out of Colts
One of the things the Patriots did defensively was use only two down lineman, rotating Richard Seymour, Ted Washington, Ty Warren and Jarvis Green.
"Willie McGinest and Mike Vrable are like chameleons, " Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "They can be defensive linemen, as well as linebackers. That adds to the disguise of what our defense can do."
Green, who had just two sacks during the regular season, came up with three yesterday.
"Let's talk about Damon Huard," Tedy Bruschi said. "The first thing Bill [Belichick] mentioned was that the guy that had a big hand in this victory didn't even play. I don't know if he took acting classes or anything like that, but it was like Peyton was on the other side. Damon gave us a great look. Just throwing the ball, he was on fire at certain times. That really got us prepared."
Strong, silent type
Bruschi had to be helped off the field after injuring his right leg with 1 minute 51 seconds remaining. Bruschi was limping badly (dragging his leg is more like it) in the locker room after the game. Asked about his injury, Bruschi said, "Leg. You know how we discuss things around here." . . .
"We decided to get physical with these guys," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "We were able to generate pressure with our four-man front, and use the extra guy to ram the receivers.
"Then we tried to get to the spot behind the pocket where Manning likes to sit. We felt if we could penetrate there, we'd have some success. Peyton likes to sit back there. Once you see him moving around, we become like Velcro, and stick to those receivers."
The game plan included stopping the Colts on the very first drive. That strategy appeared to be in jeopardy when Manning moved his team to a first and 10 from the Patriots' 12-yard line.
"The last two games, their offense did whatever they wanted," Bruschi said. "I'm sure they thought, `We'll just knock this thing in there.' "
Instead, with the Colts looking at a third and 3 from the 5-yard line, and the Patriots scrambling on a blown coverage, Manning lost sight of Rodney Harrison in the end zone just for a moment -- until he leaped in front of a pass for Marcus Pollard.
It was a big, big play, the first of many the Patriots' defense submitted.
Asked if the Colts looked surprised when their sure-fire 7 points were suddenly kaput, Bruschi shot back, "If they were surprised by us stopping them in the red zone, then shame on them. What did they think? They were going to score every time on us? C'mon, be realistic."
Yeah, c'mon. Be realistic. Nobody's perfect -- except, maybe, that New England defense.
Boring Pats quietly keep winning
By Hal Habib, Palm
Beach Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 19, 2004
Maybe it says something that when Sunday's game ended, there were fireworks in the sky but none on the field. Linebacker Willie McGinest wrestled a set of shoulder pads that didn't want to come unbuckled. Seymour stood around, waiting for a hand to shake. If there was any champagne, it was in the skyboxes, not the locker room.
"And I don't want any, either," Bruschi said. "We've got another game to win. I don't think anybody dumped any Gatorade on Bill or anything like that. There's some guys in this locker room that have consistently been successful. This is my third Super Bowl. A lot of guys have been here since '96. We're used to success. We expect to continue our success in Houston."
Dynasty? Nah. Don't say that. You wouldn't want to sound foolish.
Patriots to study Bruschi's leg injury
FOXBORO, Mass. -- A leg injury to New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi will be evaluated further before the team provides an update on his condition
Bruschi limped off the field after Sunday's 24-14 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game. After the game, he stood at his locker with a smile and answered questions in his usual cheerful manner.
The Patriots face the Carolina Panthers on Feb. 1 in the Super Bowl in Houston.
Coach Bill Belichick provided little information about the injury on Monday.
"We'll have to take a look and evaluate that," he said. "He didn't finish the game. We'll see how he is and we'll update you on that as soon as we know something."
That drew a smile from Belichick and laughs from reporters who are aware of Belichick's reluctance to give out injury information.
Bruschi, a defensive captain, had five tackles Sunday. He was the Patriots' second leading tackler during the regular season when he started all 16 games.
He was helped off the field with a right leg injury with 1 minute, 51 seconds left in the game after being injured on an incomplete pass from Peyton Manning intended for Dominic Rhodes.
Asked about his injury afterward, Bruschi said only, "Leg. You know how we discuss things around here."
Pats Mum On Bruschi
January 20, 2004
FOXBORO, Mass. -- The Super Bowl-bound Patriots were off Monday. But how far off is linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who injured his right leg and had to leave Sunday's AFC Championship Game with 1:51 remaining?
Bruschi was available at his dressing stall after Sunday's game and wasn't wearing a brace or wrap on the leg, which might be a good sign. But if he has ligament damage in the knee, it's doubtful he could play against the Panthers Feb. 1 in the Super Bowl.
"We'll update you on that as soon as we know something," said a smiling coach Bill Belichick.
Belichick was smiling because when it comes to injuries, he is the minister of misinformation or no information.
If Bruschi can't play, it would be a blow to the Patriots. Special teams captain and reserve linebacker Larry Izzo replaced Bruschi when he left the Colts game because Izzo is good in pass coverage. Linebackers Ted Johnson and Matt Chatham, other possible replacements, are better at stopping the run.
But none has Bruschi's range of skills.
LB in limbo: Bruschi's injury a question mark
By Michael Felger/Patriots Notebook
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
- Get ready for a two-week guessing game regarding Tedy
news] middle linebacker left Sunday's AFC Championship Game against
Indianapolis late in the fourth quarter with a lower right leg injury and did
not return. Bruschi offered no insight to the injury after the game, but he
acknowledged it wasn't a cramp and that he was headed for an examination with
gave no details yesterday.
``We will have to take a look
and evaluate that,'' he said. ``He didn't finish the game. We will see how he is
and we will update you on that as soon as we know something.''
Veteran Belichick-watchers took
note of his tone. Usually, when a player hasn't suffered a serious injury,
Belichick will indicate that by saying there was nothing serious coming from the
game. However, when a player is awaiting results on a potentially serious
injury, Belichick usually classifies it as an evaluation. That was the language
he used regarding linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, long snapper Lonie Paxton and
guard Damien Woody [news],
all of whom are on injured reserve.
Bruschi has been a major key in
the middle of the Pats defense with 122 tackles and three interceptions during
the regular season. If he is unable to play in the Super Bowl against Carolina,
his place would be filled by veteran Ted Johnson [news],
who has also played well after coming back from a broken foot in November.
Bruschi jammed his right foot
into the ground after peeling off a blitz on the Colts' first play after the
two-minute warning. He took only a few more steps before falling to the ground
and attempting to stretch out his lower right leg. Bruschi gingerly walked off
the field and did not return. He was favoring his right side noticeably during
postgame celebrations, although he was able to stand at his locker and answer
questions from the media for more than 30 minutes.
A calf injury would not
generally be considered serious. However, it's possible Bruschi might have
damaged his Achilles tendon, which potentially is a more serious problem.
Of course, Belichick will try and keep the exact severity under wraps leading up to the Super Bowl. Belichick wasn't helped by leaks in the Pats organization that revealed the nature of Woody's knee injury last week. That allowed the Colts to prepare for the inexperienced Russ Hochstein instead of the established Woody.
An ebullient Patriots linebacker Tedi Bruschi pointed out his AFC championship shirt to his family up in the stands after the game.
"I told you I'd get it! I told you I'd get it! This is going home with you, boy!" he shouted up to his young sons.
"It's sweet. You know, this is my third AFC championship in eight years since I've been here. We've been pretty successful. Hopefully, we can get it done again in Houston," said Bruschi.
"I don't want to use the word 'chess' because that's a finesse thing," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said in a jubilant New England locker room. "To us, it was more like rock 'em, sock 'em robots."
To a man, Patriots rule
By Kevin Mannix/Report Card
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
LINEBACKERS - A
McGinest was credited with only
four tackles, one of them a sack. That's not particularly impressive, but he
held his position on the edge of the defense and supplied steady heat on
Manning's pocket. Vrabel had a deflection to go along with his four unassisted
tackles and, like McGinest, held up well on the outside, preventing either
Edgerrin James or Dominic Rhodes from getting to the perimeter.
Tedy Bruschi [news] did his thing once again, rushing the passer, stopping the run (five tackles) and dropping back in coverage. He caused momentary palpitations when he had to be helped off the field because of a right calf injury, but he was out there for the postgame celebration and seemed to be walking without a problem in the locker room.
Ask PFW: Road to the Bowl
20 Jan 04 / by Andy Hart, Patriots Football Weekly
Bruschi went limping off the field in the last of the game... Is he okay? What
happened? There was nothing about him in any of the articles. Thanks.
Hyannis Port, Mass.
As is generally the case with injured Patriots players, very little
information is available on the Bruschi's right leg injury. “We will have to
take a look and evaluate that,” Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said on
Monday when asked of the injury. “He didn't finish the game. We will see how he
is and we will update you on that as soon as we know something.” Since there is
a week off between now and the Super Bowl the team will not have to issue an
injury report this week. Don't expect too much more information on that front
until next week sometime.
From last season to this season, Tedy Bruschi had four
consecutive interceptions returned for touchdowns. I know that this is probably
a Patriot's team record, but is it an NFL record?
Yorba Linda, Calif.
It is an NFL record. Bruschi is the first player ever to return four-consecutive interceptions for touchdowns.
concern for the team that probably will be a major topic throughout the next two
weeks is the status of linebacker Tedy Bruschi. The veteran was shaken up
late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 24-14 win over the Colts in the AFC
Championship Game and limped to the sidelines.
Bruschi spoke with the media for a long time after the game but wouldn't divulge the extent of his injury. The problem appeared to be in his lower right leg as he seemed to jam his foot into the ground just after the two-minute warning. He fell to the turf after trying to stretch out the injury and eventually limped slowly off the field.
Bruschi admitted after the game that the injury was not a cramp and that he planned to meet with the training staff for evaluation. Belichick didn't shed much more light on the topic. “We will have to take a look and evaluate that,” the coach said. “He didn't finish the game. We will see how he is and we will update you on that as soon as we know something.”
Since the injury report won't be revealed until a week from tomorrow (Jan. 28), don't expect much information on the subject until then.
By MICHAEL PARENTE , Special to The Herald 01/21/2004
Mass. -- There’s still no actual word on the condition of Patriots linebacker
Tedy Bruschi, though several media outlets are offering their views.
Bruschi injured his right leg late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 24-14 win over Indianapolis in the AFC championship and did not return, leaving his status for Super Bowl XXXVIII in question.
Afterward, Bruschi didn’t get into detail about his injury, but admitted that it wasn’t just a cramp and that he would have further tests done. As expected, head coach Bill Belichick offered no further insight into the linebacker’s status. After what happened this past week with the leaking of Damien Woody’s knee injury to the local media, he will likely keep Bruschi’s condition under wraps for the next two weeks.
Some seem to think it’s a calf injury, because he hurt himself immediately after the two-minute warning, took a few steps, then fell to the ground clutching his right calf.
Others think it might be an Achilles tendon injury, but it’s unlikely that he would’ve been able to walk off the field under his own power had that happened. Back in 1999, Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde ruptured his Achilles tendon in the season opener against New England and had to be carted off the field.
The only thing that seems certain as of now is that the Patriots are still awaiting the results of some tests on Bruschi’s leg, which is why Belichick said he would "evaluate" the situation throughout the week before the team leaves for Houston on Monday.
Bruschi was one of the main components this season in the Patriots’ improved run defense. The eighth-year veteran finished with 122 tackles and three interceptions and was a Pro-Bowl candidate.
If he can’t play, veteran Ted Johnson would start in his place at middle linebacker. Johnson finished with 26 tackles in eight games and played well down the stretch after missing eight weeks from September to October with a broken leg.
Bruschi has strained calf: Linebacker's status still up
By Michael Felger
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Bruschi suffered a strained calf muscle in the
news]' AFC title game win over Indianapolis last Sunday, according to a
source familiar with the medical evaluation done on the veteran linebacker.
The good news was that the
diagnosis did not involve a more serious injury, such as an Achilles problem.
The bad news is that there is still no guarantee Bruschi
will be able to play in the Super Bowl against Carolina a week from Sunday in
``They're going to do everything
they can over the next week to get it ready,'' said the source, who is not a
member of the Pats organization. ``It just depends how it goes.''
Muscle injuries typically take
4-6 weeks to heal, although players often come back sooner depending on the
severity of the strain.
was at Gillette Stadium working out yesterday and was reportedly in good
spirits, which may be an indication of his availability for the game. For
Bruschi, the issue won't be whether he'll be able to
play with the injury, but how effective he'll be.
stands as one of the toughest players on the roster, and he has played much of
the season through an elbow injury that has required a brace and a knee injury
that he said he ``tweaked up'' against Cleveland Oct. 26. There's little doubt
Bruschi will do whatever it takes to get back on the
If the injury prevents
Bruschi from playing with his customary speed and
burst, he may not be of much use. More than anything,
Bruschi relies on his quickness to make plays.
is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, one in which he drew
legitimate Pro Bowl consideration. Starting all 16 regular-season games,
Bruschi recorded 137 tackles, three interceptions,
three forced fumbles, three sacks, a fumble recovery and 16 passes defended. He
is invaluable to Bill Belichick [news]'s
scheme because of his ability to rush the passer, play the run and cover backs
and tight ends in the passing game.
Bruschi's status, fellow middle linebacker
Ted Johnson [news]
figured to play a role in the game plan against Carolina given the physical
running style the Panthers employ.
Johnson is the Pats' best
point-of-attack, run-stuffing linebacker, which would make him a good match
against Carolina power rusher Stephen Davis. If Bruschi
is out, Johnson's workload figures to be heavy. Johnson has been the third man
in the Pats' three-way rotation at inside linebacker with
Bruschi and Roman Phifer.
Johnson has played well this
year, although he missed eight games in September and October with a bone
fracture in his foot. Johnson has 27 tackles on the season.
suffered the injury on the Colts' first play following the two-minute warning in
the fourth quarter, when he peeled off a blitz and jammed his right heel into
the ground. Bruschi limped gingerly off the field
and did not return. He stayed on his feet through the postgame celebration,
although he favored his right leg.
``He planted his leg, went to push off on it and felt a pop,'' said the source. ``The Achilles is 100 percent fine. Initially, that's what they looked at. Now they're just going to try and rehab it as quickly as possible.''
Bruschi's injured leg feeling better
A/P Breaking News 01/22/04
Tedy Bruschi's injured right leg had improved Thursday, but secrecy surrounded the Super Bowl status of the Patriots linebacker.
"He's feeling a lot better than he was on Monday," New England coach Bill Belichick said. "We'll just take it day to day."
All season, players have followed Belichick's policy of giving few details about injuries. The Patriots announced only that Bruschi, a defensive captain and the team's second-leading tackler, had a leg injury.
Bruschi was hurt on an incomplete pass in the final minutes of New England's 24-14 win over Indianapolis in the AFC championship game and was helped off the field.
Bruschi wouldn't say whether he has a chance to play in the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 against Carolina.
"I can't let you in on anything," Bruschi said Thursday. "I'm sorry. You know how we deal with things around here, and I follow the rule."
He did say that having an extra week to prepare for the game should help.
"I'm glad I have two weeks," he said. "You always say a bye is good to heal your bumps and bruises and, obviously, I've got some."
Patriots' gear collars the market
Scoring in stores
07:49 AM EST on Thursday, January 22, 2004
Overall, Brady is ranked ninth in sales for the season, said NFL spokesman Dan Masonson.
"He's consistently in the top 10," Masonson said.
No other Patriot ranks in the top 10, but new fan favorite Tedy Bruschi could probably move up in the standings after Super Bowl Sunday if he lays a lick or two on Stephen Davis, the popular Carolina Panthers running back. The Patriots' middle linebacker is ranked 12th, while Davis is ranked 11th. (Bruschi's playing status remains unclear after injuring his right leg in the Colts' game.)
"It really started after the game against Miami Dec. 7 when [Bruschi] had the touchdown," said Mike Paulhus, manager of Sports Treasures in Emerald Square Mall. Since then, "Bruschi has been our hottest guy."
Also on the list are Ty Law (16th) and Troy Brown (24th) of the Patriots, and Julius Peppers (14th) and Jake Delhomme (17th) of the Panthers.
.....In early December, five of the team's defensive players got together with a Maryland company on a little sideline business. Their faces are pictured on merchandise emblazoned with "Homeland Defense," a moniker coined by nose tackle Ted Washington. In addition to Washington, the others include Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, Bruschi and Law.
Washington hooked up with Fred Fillah, of Fans Only, to develop a memorable tag for the defensive unit. Fillah helped market "Cowboy Up," the phrase that became the Red Sox' rallying cry last year.
"The Patriots' [team] that won the Super Bowl in 2001 didn't have a handle," Fillah said. "They wanted to be a unit that has an association with it."
Fillah then reeled off the nicknames that have become part of NFL lore -- the "Steel Curtain," the "Doomsday Defense" and the "Purple People Eaters," among them.
"These players love nicknames," he said. "They're an incredibly creative lot."
They also know a thing or two about business. The five players will make 15 percent of the wholesale price of the T-shirts, sweatshirts and knit caps sold under the Homeland Defense banner, about twice the typical licensing deal. A total of 30,000 units have been sold so far through Olympia Sports, JC Penney and online. Fillah says he expects that number to reach about 50,000 -- roughly half of the Cowboy Up sales.
Locker Room Talk:
"It's just as special as my first time and my second time because you realize that these chances don't come round often and you want to take advantage of the opportunities."
Tedy B. (PFW)
"My expectations are high for whoever's going to be out there with us on the field," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We don't try to take rookies and coddle them. We try to tell them, `We need you.' "
Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 1/23
23 Jan 04 / by New England Patriots
Q: How would you characterize what
Tedy Bruschi means to your defense?
BB: I think Tedy is, first of
all, he is a really good player. I don't think there is any doubt [about that].
I don't want to minimize that in any way because he is a really good player. He
has made a lot of big plays for us this year in the passing game—interceptions
returned for touchdowns— in the running game—fourth and one stop against Dallas,
plays like that. On top of that, he is the quarterback of the defense. He is the
communicator. He gets the signal from the sideline, he gives it to the rest of
the team. If the offense comes out in a different look, sometimes we have to
change our defense or make adjustments or make checks, and that all starts with
him too. I think he plays with a lot of emotion and enthusiasm and I think he
brings a real good level of energy to the field. He is a terrific player. He is
a terrific guy to have on the team. He never complains, really doesn't ever
present any kind of negative comments or thoughts. He is just positive. He just
wants to go forward and win and I totally respect that. I totally respect it.
Q: Could you envision him being
where he is now back in 1996?
BB: He has come a long way
"This is my third time around," Bruschi said yesterday (he had no comment about his injured leg, per orders of the mighty Belichick). "I remember everything about that first one. There's no question that it's special. When you've got a chance to be a world champion and you've got a chance to go for it, you go for it."
Mike Love 01/23/04
TEDY BRUSCHI appeared upbeat when he met the media in front of his locker Thursday.
Bruschi, New England's inside linebacker, was injured in the final minute of New England's 24-14 AFC championship-game victory against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Boston Herald is reporting Bruschi has a strained right calf and his status for the game is up in the air.
Coach Bill Belichick said Thursday that he spoke to Bruschi in the morning and Bruschi told him he was feeling much better than he did Monday.
"We'll take it day to day," said Belichick. "We're taking it day to day. He's doing everything he can to be ready for the game and we'll evaluate it as we go along."
If Bruschi cannot play, or if his playing time is limited, he would be replaced by veteran Ted Johnson. And that's not too bad. Johnson is one of New England's best run defenders and Carolina has a strong running game.
Bruschi Stands In Favor Of Extra
Linebacker Has Time To Get Healthy
January 23, 2004
By ALAN GREENBERG, Courant Staff Writer
FOXBORO, Mass. -- Some Patriots would be happy if their Super Bowl XXXVIII date with the Panthers were one week after the AFC championship, as it was when the Patriots won the Super Bowl two years ago.
But Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is grateful there is a two-week gap this season.
Bruschi, who injured his right leg with 1:51 left in Sunday's AFC Championship Game, did not practice Thursday afternoon. And it's highly unlikely he'll practice today.
But the Super Bowl is nine days away, which might be enough time to heal what the Boston Herald reports is a strained calf muscle.
"I talked to Bruschi [Thursday] morning," coach Bill Belichick said. "He's doing a lot better than he was on Monday. We'll take it day-to-day, evaluate as we go along."
Asked about his injury Bruschi said, "You know I can't talk about that. I have to respect the policy."
Bruschi wasn't wearing a wrap or a brace after Sunday's 24-14 victory over the Colts, although he kept shifting his weight on and off his injured leg after the game. Thursday, he looked comfortable standing, although standing is a far cry from blitzing or covering a running back.
Bruschi intercepted three passes this season, returning two for touchdowns. He would be missed, but the Panthers have a run-oriented offense. If stopping Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster is job one, inside linebacker Ted Johnson, who is a better run-stopper than the versatile Bruschi, is well-suited to take over.
Without Bruschi, the Patriots probably would substitute another defensive back in obvious passing situations, or special teams captain and reserve linebacker Larry Izzo, who replaced Bruschi against the Colts.
On Roman Phifer:
I've seen a lot of linebackers come in and out of here and a lot of linebackers around the league and if there's one guy I want to emulate, it's 'Phif,' " said Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "His total package -- the way he gives everything on the field and takes care of himself off the field -- is exceptional. And to do it for 13 or 14 years."
FOXBORO - When he walked from his locker to
the trainer's room yesterday morning, there was only the faintest of limps - if
that - in Tedy Bruschi [news]'s
And when he
stood at his locker and answered questions from the media for nearly 15 minutes,
Bruschi didn't avoid putting weight on his injured right leg, or stand awkwardly
as if he was in any pain or discomfort.
What to make of
or maybe just some wishful thinking, but at this stage, it's a lot better than
seeing the guy hobbling along, or not seeing him at all.
The fact the
news] linebacker has been front and center, as opposed to conspicuously
hidden from the press, is another good sign for Pats fans, one that suggests his
reported strained calf muscle is healing nicely and won't prevent him from
playing in the Super Bowl eight days from now.
another day and today I feel a little better than yesterday,'' said Bruschi,
whose upbeat persona is also reason for encouragement.
thought of not having Bruschi - or having him at less than 100 percent against
the Carolina Panthers a week from tomorrow in Houston - is troubling.
I know all about
the Patriots' depth and their interchangeable parts and their incredible
resiliency. I know they've survived this season at different times without Ted
Washington, Ted Johnson [news],
Mike Vrabel [news],
Richard Seymour [news]
and Ty Law [news]
And, yes, based
on that overwhelming evidence, there's no reason to believe they wouldn't
somehow get by without Bruschi stuffing the likes of Stephen Davis and DeShaun
Foster, or coming up with a key pick of Jake Delhomme. I'm sure Johnson, Larry
Izzo and whatever assortment of linebacker replacements would do just fine.
Just know this
about Bruschi: He's the Energizer bunny on the Pats' defense. He's their pulse,
heart and conscience.
Tom Brady [news]
on the opposite side of the ball, he's their quarterback. Brady might be the one
component the Pats absolutely could not live without, but don't make the mistake
of underselling Bruschi, who is one of the team's captains.
defensive QB, getting signals from the sideline, and giving them to the rest of
the team. And if the opposing offense presents a different look than what was
anticipated, all of the checks or adjustments start with Bruschi, who was
injured late in the AFC Championship Game win over Indianapolis.
Bill Belichick [news],
who never likes to go overboard when it comes to complimenting his own players,
went off the deep end - for him, anyway - with respect to Bruschi.
When asked to
characterize the importance of Bruschi in his lineup, Belichick pointed out all
the huge plays his linebacker has made, both in intercepting passes and stopping
runs. He also pointed to Bruschi as communicator and emotional leader.
``I think he
plays with a lot of emotion and enthusiasm,'' Belichick said. ``I think he
brings a good level of energy to the field. He's a terrific player and a
terrific guy to have on the team. He never complains, he doesn't ever present
any kind of negative comments or thoughts. He's just positive. He just wants to
go forward and win. And I totally respect that.''
teammates, while not giving away any trade secrets with respect to his health,
were also effusive in their praise.
everyone has their own personal style of play, but he rubs off,'' Vrabel said.
``He's so emotional about the game. When he makes a big play, that brings
everybody else up, trying to play at his level of emotion. Every snap he's out
there, he's just bringing a life, an attitude and an enthusiasm that's fun to
hasn't practiced, but the time to worry about that would be next week. Right
now, walking sounds good, and looks good.
HOUSTON -- Willie McGinest doesn't count among his many duties submitting the Patriots' weekly injury report. But if he were in charge of classifying the Super Bowl status of fellow linebacker Tedy Bruschi, McGinest would go with "probable."
"I'm expecting him to play," McGinest said last night during his press conference at the team hotel. "I don't have a doctor's report for you on what's going on with him, but we've had guys fight through injuries and different things. [Mike] Vrabel has been playing with a broken arm all year. A lot of different guys have been going through a lot of different injuries.
"For the biggest game in the world, I think Bruschi will be ready. I'm hoping he'll be ready. I want him out there. If he can't for some reason, then our linebackers are still going to be ready. We all rotate anyway. I have all the confidence in the world in Ted Johnson or whoever's going to be out there."
Bruschi, who reportedly suffered a calf strain late in the AFC Championship game, did not practice last week. New England did not practice on yesterday's travel day and won't get into full workouts in preparation for the Panthers until Wednesday.
"I think Tedy's a lot better than he was last week," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "We'll take it day to day. Our big work day starts on Wednesday, so we'll see where he is then. He's been getting treatment three, four times a day. He's doing everything he can to get ready.
"Tedy's a great competitor and a real good football player who'll do everything he can to be there Sunday night. We'll just have to see how that progresses. But he's made a lot of improvement."
On what, if we may ask?
"He's got a sore leg," Belichick said, "but it's getting better."
Bruschi makes trip, but LB still up in air
By Michael Felger/Patriots Notebook
Monday, January 26, 2004
- The national media got its first taste last night of the way
news] coach Bill Belichick [news]
handles injury questions. They should get used to more of the same in the next
Without calling the strained
calf muscle of Tedy Bruschi [news]
anything more than a ``sore leg,'' Belichick said the Pats still are taking a
wait-and-see approach with their starting inside linebacker. Bruschi sustained
the injury in the final two minutes of the Pats' AFC Championship Game win
against Indianapolis on Jan. 18.
Bruschi traveled with the team
to Texas, which is a positive sign for his availability in Super Bowl XXXVIII
Sunday against Carolina.
``It's better than last week,''
Belichick said. ``We'll just take it day-to-day. He's getting treatment three or
four times a day. He's a competitor and I know he'll do everything he can to be
ready to go. He's made a lot of improvement.''
The Pats will
practice today at Rice University and then have tomorrow off. They won't have to
officially release their injury report until practice Wednesday.
Suddenly, Mula was representing the team, not the players. ``It was tough to leave the players, but I made the switch and haven't looked back,'' he said. Mula gives points to Tedy Bruschi at contract time. Bruschi negotiates his own contracts. ``He's a tough negotiator. Just the way he plays the game.''
Pats on target with 38 special:
Big-play abilities pave way to Houston
By Kevin Mannix
Sunday, January 25, 2004
I -- The Pats lead, 10-7, in the second quarter in Philadelphia. They punt to Brian Westbrook, who fumbles the ball. Tedy Bruschi knocks Westbrook away from the ball and Bethel Johnson [news] recovers at the Eagles' 14-yard line. Two plays later, the Pats score and the tone is set for a 31-10 win.
XXVIII -- Still trailing, 3-0, the Dolphins have a first down at their own 4. Fiedler's slant pass toward Chambers is picked off by Bruschi and returned for a touchdown. Snow showers erupt amid the fans in the stands -- and the AFC East title reverts to the Patriots with the 12-0 win.
Patriots hopeful Bruschi can play
By Tom Orsborn
San Antonio Express-News
Web Posted : 01/26/2004 12:00 AM
HOUSTON — New England coach Bill Belichick said Sunday he is optimistic that injured linebacker Tedy Bruschi will play in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Bruschi's status was one of the first topics Belichick addressed in a news conference held at the Patriots' hotel shortly after the AFC champions arrived.
Whether Bruschi plays Sunday is important to New England because he is one of the team's top run-stoppers, and the Patriots will be facing a Carolina offense that has a strong ground attack featuring backs Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster.
Bruschi, an inside force in the Patriots' 3-4 alignment, suffered a leg injury in the fourth quarter of New England's 24-14 victory over Indianapolis on Jan. 18 for the AFC Championship.
It is Patriots team policy not to release the specifics of injuries, but the Boston Herald reported that Bruschi has a strained right calf muscle.
"Tedy is a great competitor," Belichick said, "and he'll do everything he can to be out there."
The Patriots (16-2) are favored by seven points over the Panthers (14-5) in the NFL title game, which is set to start at 5:25 p.m. at Reliant Stadium.
Bruschi ranked second this season in tackles on a defense that finished the regular season ranked first in points allowed, 14.9 per game. Over the final 11 games of the season, New England allowed an average of only 11.9 points per game.
Bruschi finished with 137 tackles, one shy of a career-high he set in 1999. The eight-year veteran also recorded two sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 2003.
Bruschi was unavailable for comment Sunday, but he told reporters last week that his leg had improved.
"I feel good," he said. "That's all I can say. I can't let you in on anything. Sorry, but you know how we deal with things around here, and I follow the rule."
A team captain, Bruschi is the defense's signal-caller and one of the team's top leaders.
"He's a high-energy player who is always thinking of what he can do for the team and not what he can do for himself," Belichick said. "He's a positive influence on the team. He's a real leader."
Said linebacker Mike Vrabel: "Everyone has their own personal style of play, but he rubs off. He's so emotional about the game. When he makes a big play, that brings everybody else up, trying to play at his level of emotion. Every snap, he's out there bringing a life, an attitude and an enthusiasm that's fun to play with."
Eight-year veteran Larry Izzo and nine-year veteran Ted Johnson are expected to have increased roles should Bruschi be held out of the Super Bowl.
The 1 hour, 45 minute practice began with a walkthrough and concluded with a few field goals by Adam Vinatieri and a conditioning run, before Belichick brought the team together for a brief talk.
Every player participated in practice, including linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who hurt his leg in the conference title game against Indianapolis. The Patriots practiced in helmets, windbreakers and shorts; it was still better than the single-digit temperatures and negative wind-chills in Boston.
HOUSTON - New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who hurt his right calf
in the AFC championship game, went through workouts Monday.
"Tedy's coming along well," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the team's practice at Rice University. "He was out there and did some work today. He's coming fine."
Bruschi, a nine-year veteran and former Arizona Wildcats star, is a critical part of New England's stalwart defense. He was voted a defensive captain by teammates before the season.
Meanwhile, Carolina running back Stephen Davis participated in the club's 55-minute workout at the University of Houston. Davis, who strained his left quadriceps against St. Louis on Jan. 10, was held out of practice last week.
"Stephen will be full speed," Panthers coach John Fox said. "He'll be about as full speed as I've seen him. He never gets all the reps in practice, but he'll get the majority of them."
Fox said he expects no Panthers to be listed on the injury report this week.
Ted and Tedy medical update
Ted Johnson missed eight games in the nine weeks he was sidelined this season with a broken foot that he suffered Week One in Buffalo. Tedy Bruschi started all 18 games in 2003, but is battling a reported calf injury that he suffered with 1:51 left in the AFC Championship Game.
It looks like Bruschi will likely be ready to go Sunday night, and Belichick's Monday update on his status was encouraging. “Tedy's coming along well. He was out there and did some work today.”
If Bruschi is unable to fill his normal workload inside, Johnson expects to step in and assume a greater role, perhaps even the role he hoped to fill when the season started, but one he never had the chance to because of the all-too-familiar injury bug.
“I'm preparing as if I'm going to play the whole game,” Johnson said. “But that's how I prepare every week. You don't want to get to the game and realize you're gong to be called on more than you thought and be unprepared.”
The nine-week layoff left Johnson behind his teammates and he's found it hard to catch up in limited work.
“Missing nine weeks, trying to get back to game speed, I think I'm about as good as I can be. Your reps are limited. Getting the opportunity to play at full speed is always key. But
if it ain't broke, why fix it? Tedy Bruschi and Roman Phifer have done a heck of a job.
“I give credit to my coaches for allowing me to get in there and play a little bit. I didn't know if I was going to get put on injured reserve so I'm thankful that they believed in me enough not to put me on IR.”
Injury talk off limits
When asked about injuries, Patriots coach Bill Belichick operates as if somebody is inquiring about state secrets. He wants his players to respond the same way. That's why it hasn't been confirmed whether Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi has a strained calf muscle. That's also why Bruschi said Tuesday regarding a question about his calf, "We have never discussed what my injury is, and we're not going to start that now."
Chicago Sun Times
January 27, 2004
BY BRAD BIGGS Staff Reporter
ENJOYING A BRUSCHI: Patriots coach Bill Belichick reported that inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi practiced, good news for New England. Bruschi strained his right calf muscle in the AFC Championship Game and had to leave the field, but he looked pretty good afterward running around with the Lamar Hunt Trophy.
"He was out there and did a little,'' Belichick said. "He's fine.''
Bruschi, who has been receiving three to four treatments a day for more than a week, was one of four Patriots defenders to start all 16 games and ranked second on the team with 137 tackles and third with 16 passes defended.
Quick, spell Massachusetts
(01-27) 15:46 PST HOUSTON (AP) --
Hey, who let this kid in here?
Justin Phillips is a 13-year-old, aspiring actor from North Carolina who got a credential to cover the Super Bowl for the Nickelodeon Network. He went to media day Tuesday and spent the time acting like -- well -- a teen-ager.
"Spell Delhomme," Phillips boldly challenged Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi. That would be Delhomme, as in Jake Delhomme, the Carolina Panthers' quarterback.
"D-E-L-H-O-M-E," Bruschi responded. He missed an `M,' and as the last letter spilled from his lips, the kid with the wacky, canary-colored hair pounced: "Wrong!"
Phillips is a "GAScaster" for Nickelodeon, which held auditions around the country seeking kids to do some reporting work on its show, "Nickelodeon's Games and Sports for Kids -- Nick GAS."
He was one of the youngest credentialed media members at the Super Bowl, and he spent the time doing kids' stuff. One of his bits involved challenging players to guess their own weight, then step onto a scale one of his producers was carrying around to see how close they were.
Bruschi, meanwhile, probably was wishing Phillips would pick on someone his own size.
After flunking his spelling test, the linebacker tried to turn the tables, and challenged Phillips to spell his name -- without peeking at the nameplate next to the podium.
Phillips didn't flinch, though. He got it right -- "B-R-U-S-C-H-I" -- and quickly left that sucker behind, moving to another podium to quiz Troy Brown on the correct spelling of Massachusetts.
Detroit Free Press
One of the big stories now is the mystery surrounding New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who might or might not miss the game with what might or might not be a calf injury. The world might or might not care, because we might or might not have known who Bruschi was two weeks ago, but by Sunday we'll all feel like he holds the future of western civilization in his calf. The nation's finest investigative reporters are on the case.
still the word
The daily Tedy Bruschi health update offered little in the way of information. Speaking at the Patriots Media Day at Reliant Stadium, the linebacker, who was forced out of the AFC Championship Game with an apparent calf injury, said if the problem was “something he could manage” then he would be likely be able to go.
Bruschi added he hadn't done much on the field but Wednesday marks the first full-scale workout of the week after a day off on Tuesday.
Patriots LB Bruschi's Right Leg Improving
By EDDIE PELLS, AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON - New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi is getting treatment on his injured right leg three or four times a day, and he hopes to be able to practice for the Super Bowl.
Bruschi, who has scored three touchdowns on defense this season, hurt his calf in the AFC championship game against Indianapolis.
"He's a lot better than he was last week," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Sunday. "He's doing everything to get ready. He's a great competitor, a football player, and he will do all he can to be ready to play."
10:55 a.m. Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is asked about his favorite movie. "Rocky" is his answer. He is asked to recite a line. "Cut me, Mick! Cut me!" he says.
Bruschi Says It's Time To Test His `Sore Leg'
January 28, 2004
By ALAN GREENBERG, Courant Staff Writer
HOUSTON -- When you play linebacker in the Super Bowl, be of ill humor.
But when you are asked over and over if an injury will allow you to play, be of good humor.
"If ever I've been on an emotional roller coaster, it's been the last week and a half," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "I feel like every day I've gotten better. But I want to get more better."
Bruschi sustained what has been reported as a right calf strain late in the Patriots' 24-14 victory over the Colts in the AFC Championship Game Jan. 18. Patriots players are forbidden from talking about their injuries and coach Bill Belichick, calls Bruschi's "a sore leg."
Bruschi, 30, didn't practice last week, but says he might try today when the Patriots continue their preparation for Super Bowl XXVIII at Rice University.
"I'd like to try some reps]," Bruschi said Tuesday. "[Today] is the day when I feel I should be able to do some things."
Bruschi said he feels this has been his best season.
"The one main goal I have every year is to improve from last year," he said. "I think I've done that. I think I've done it eight years in a row."
One thing Bruschi won't do is say anything the Panthers could use as motivation.
"We feel like either team can win this trophy on Sunday," Bruschi said
Super Bowl Notebook
Banged-Up Bruschi Close To Playing
By Leonard Shapiro Mark Maske
Wednesday, January 28, 2004; Page D03
Banged-Up Bruschi Close To Playing (washingtonpost.com)
Winning it all is nothing personal for Bruschi
01:32 AM EST on Wednesday, January 28, 2004
HOUSTON -- You'd think Tedy Bruschi was a kicker by the way his leg has become such a hot topic of conversation over the past week and a half. Everyone is wondering whether the injury the Patriots linebacker suffered at the end of New England's AFC title victory over the Indianapolis Colts will keep him out of action for Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Citing the team's policy not to discuss injuries, Bruschi would not shed any more light at yesterday's media day on what is reportedly a strained right calf muscle. He did say, however, that he didn't take part in the team's light workout on Monday.
But the defensive captain wanted to assure Patriots fans that he wants nothing more than to be ready to go against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
"It feels pretty good today, and it feels better than it did last week," Bruschi said. "Each day, I've been making significant strides, I feel, to get on the field on Sunday. I want to be out there and I just want to let everyone know that I'm going to do everything I can to be out there and help this team win."
Bruschi's ability to play may not seem to be cause for great alarm on a team that has proved time and again this season that it can handle the loss of just about anyone, thanks to a corps of reserves that has stepped up when needed. And indeed, veteran Ted Johnson is certainly a very worthy replacement if need be.
But when it comes to the biggest game of the year, any team would cringe at the thought of not having the services of an eight-year veteran making his third Super Bowl appearance.
Bruschi's play up the middle -- especially his ability to rush the passer and cover running backs and tight ends -- has had a good deal to do with New England's dominating defense this season.
The 30-year-old San Francisco native has enjoyed one of the most productive seasons of his career, recording 137 tackles, 3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 3 sacks, a fumble recovery and 16 passes defended.
Bruschi became the first player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for touchdowns after picking off Detroit's Joey Harrington and Oakland's Rich Gannon in 2002 and Miami's Jay Fiedler and Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb this season.
Somewhat undersized for a linebacker at 6 feet 1 inch and 247 pounds, he more than compensates with an intensity that is tough to match.
"You can't say enough about this guy, the way he practices regardless if he's hurt or if he's not feeling well," said safety Rodney Harrison. "Just his leadership, his consistency, his playmaking abilities. He's a very underrated player. I felt like he definitely should have made the Pro Bowl. I mean, what other linebacker other than Ray Lewis [of Baltimore] inside had a better year than him?"
What's more, Bruschi has proven he can rise to the occasion in the big games.
In his first Super Bowl appearance as a rookie in 1997, he registered two sacks in New England's 35-21 loss to Green Bay -- a team Super Bowl record for sacks and one shy of the all-time Super Bowl mark.
He then recorded four solo tackles in the Patriots' 20-17 win over St. Louis in Super Bowl XXXVI.
"I want to win," said Bruschi. "I want to be on the best teams. I want to be a member of the best teams. I don't really strive for individual accolades or any type of individual goals or anything like that. I've never set any individual goals. I just want to win. I've told myself to do everything I possibly can to help the team win."
Although Bruschi will have had the benefit of two weeks in between the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl in terms of his recovery, he has remained sidelined, spending that time receiving almost constant treatment.
While he says he will not go out on the field Sunday if he feels he might hurt his team's chances, he is going to do everything in his power to be ready.
"I'm a tough guy, and I've dealt with a lot of pain before in the past," said Bruschi, who has played through a good part of the season with elbow and knee injuries. "And this is the biggest game of my career. I've been in two Super Bowls before, but this is the one that is right now. . . . So it's going to be very difficult to hold me out of this game."
Projo.com | Providence | Patriots
HOUSTON -- Mum was still the word Tuesday regarding the status of Tedy Bruschi for Sunday's Super Bowl XXXVIII.
The veteran linebacker injured his right calf in the Patriots' 24-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game. He has practiced on a limited basis, but New England officials have not provided details on the nature or severity of the injury.
Bruschi wasn't in a revealing mood Tuesday at Reliant Stadium.
"We have never discussed what my injury is and we're not going to start that now," he said.
Bruschi, New England's second-leading tackler during the regular season with 137, admitted he likely would have been unable to play had the Super Bowl been held last Sunday.
"That extra week has really helped me probably more than anyone else on the team," he said. "I'm getting better."
Will he start against Carolina?
"I really want to," Bruschi said. "I can't tell you how my injury situation is going to be on Sunday, but it's going to take a lot to hold me out."
Bruschi won't say if he'll play Sunday
Bruschi has leg up: Hurt linebacker likely plays
By Karen Guregian
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
- Count on Tedy Bruschi [news]
being in uniform and playing Sunday. The injured linebacker won't be missing a
date with the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. How do we know this?
Bruschi didn't flat out say he
would be playing or actually utter those highly anticipated words during his
media session yesterday - Bill Belichick [news]
would have kicked him in the calf if he did - but he dropped enough clues in
Unless there's a huge setback
between now and then, Bruschi is in. Bad right calf and all.
``I'm doing everything I can.
I'm up in the hotel room lying on a training table trying to get better,''
Bruschi said. ``They might have to tie me up to keep me out of this game.''
Remember, Bruschi is a football
player in the truest sense of the word. And football players play hurt, they
play in pain, they play with broken bones.
If he can walk, he'll play, and
Bruschi is clearly walking just fine. After arriving here with the team Sunday,
he literally bounded down the steps of the plane, with no hint of a leg problem.
He didn't even have to hold a rail to take the stress off his strained right
calf muscle. Both arms were occupied with bags as he easily and effortlessly
strolled down the steps.
That picture alone spoke
volumes. So has Bruschi's upbeat demeanor, which was very much on display
throughout his entire media day gabfest.
Again, this is a top-notch
athlete staring at the biggest game of the season. Obviously, Bruschi won't want
to jeopardize the team's chances by playing well below his capacity. He's not
that selfish or stupid. He knows where he needs to be physically, and based on
the evidence, it's not a huge leap to believe he'll be in that range in four
``If I'm in a situation where if
I'm out there and I'll hurt the team, I got to do what's best for the team and
let Ted Johnson [news]
go,'' Bruschi said with respect to his linebacker friend. ``Ted Johnson's
completely capable to do the job if you ask me. But I'm a tough guy. I'm a tough
guy, and I've dealt with a lot of pain before in my past. This is the biggest
game of my career. I've been in two Super Bowls before, but this is the one
right now. . . . It's going to be very difficult to hold me out of this game.''
Almost as difficult as holding
him out of the end zone after he intercepts a pass (see Philadelphia and Miami
for details). Bruschi is clearly determined to be in the lineup. You can see it
in his eyes, and in his every expression.
While he said he practiced only
``mentally'' with the team Monday, he will put himself through a greater test
today, physically taking part for the first time.
He indicated he's felt
improvement every day, and there's no reason to believe that progress won't
Had the Super Bowl been last
Sunday, Bruschi probably wouldn't have played. The extra week, however, has been
``It's only Tuesday. I've still
got a significant amount of time to be better, and I plan to be a lot better on
Sunday,'' he said, with emphasis on the word plan.
What was the most pain he's ever
played in before?
``Have you ever had your neck on
fire?'' he said. ``Stingers are always painful. You feel like your whole arm's
about to fall off for a couple plays. That's pretty bad. But I've had shoulder
things, knee things. I've had a lot of things to deal with, and I've dealt with
``What it comes down to is a
measure of pain,'' he added a short time later. ``If it's something I can
manage, and I feel like I can manage quite a bit of pain, then I'll go.''
In other words, pencil him in. Stick him in his familiar linebacker spot alongside Roman Phifer and Mike Vrabel [news]. Reading between the lines, and just plain knowing the guy, he'll manage whatever needs to be managed come Sunday.
BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Bruschi has leg up: Hurt linebacker likely plays
Later, I watched a fellow almost burst with pride when he posed this clever query to Patriots' linebacker Tedy Bruschi: ``Quick, which Super Bowl is this in terms of Roman numerals?'' Bruschi sighed, spelled out XXXVIII without so much as a nanosecond's pause and then crushed the reporter like an unprotected quarterback.
``Dude,'' he said. ``A little kid asked me that same question about 10 minutes ago.''
Mercury News | 01/27/2004 | Super Bowl media day prompts big questions... like `Why am I doing this?'
HOUSTON -- Today might be Tedy Bruschi's moment of truth.
While he envisions few scenarios that could keep him out of Sunday's Super Bowl, the Patriots inside linebacker -- who injured his leg in the AFC Championship game against Indianapolis -- believes today's practice will be telling.
"I'm gonna try and do some things," Bruschi said. "I sort of made a little progression on certain things [Monday] and [yesterday], and [today] is a day where I feel like I could be able to do some things," said Bruschi, who started answering questions even before the media session officially began yesterday at Reliant Stadium.
The specifics of the injury have not been revealed.
"During the last two weeks I've gone up and down with my emotions," said Bruschi. "I can't believe I'm hurt. It's been really tough mentally for me for the last week and a half. As I talk to you about it, I've felt that every day I've gotten better. I've had the tendency of wanting to push myself and I'm trying to tell myself, `Hold on, you still have a week left.'
"I've just trusted [Patriots trainers] Jim Whalen and Joe Van Allen. They've done a great job."
Bruschi cited team policy as the reason he couldn't detail specifics of the injury. He repeated numerous times he felt better, and when asked specifically whether he'd play Sunday, he said, "We'll see."
But one teammate said that barring a setback in practice this week, "I would bet my house on the fact that he'll play Sunday. I don't think you're gonna keep him from that football field. We all know how important he is to our defense and our team and he's not gonna miss a chance to play in a Super Bowl."
Whatever ails Bruschi is not as severe as the knee injury that kept him out of the last four games of the season a year ago.
"It takes a lot to keep me out," said Bruschi. "I've had so many injuries, but I usually just deal with them after the game."
Bruschi said he's taking recovery just as he does playing -- all out.
"It's just the way I am, the type of person I am," he said. "The all-out mentality I have in everything I do from being a good husband and father to being a good football player. I apply the same things to try and be the best you can be."
Bruschi, making his third Super Bowl appearance, likely would find this Super Bowl win his most fulfilling, believing this has been his best season.
As few individual goals that I have, one of them is to improve from the last year," he said. "I think I've done that for eight years in a row. I think I've gotten better statistically as a football player and as a football player in general."
Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Today's practice key test for Bruschi
Vrabel picking his spots
Ex-Walsh, OSU star excelling at all for Patriots
Who sets that tone for Vrabel?
``Tedy Bruschi,'' he said of the Patriots middle linebacker. ``There's nobody else who's more active or more involved in the team or defense than Tedy. He says, `Here's what I do; take it or leave it. This is how I'm going to play the game and approach my life.'
``I look up to Tedy. He's a great father, a good husband and a great player.''
Beacon Journal | 01/27/2004 | Vrabel picking his spots
Patriots List Three on Injury Report
HOUSTON - New England Patriots (news) linebacker Tedy Bruschi was listed as probable Wednesday on the first injury report of Super Bowl week, and tight end Christian Fauria and running back Patrick Pass were also given a 75 percent chance of playing in Sunday's game against Carolina.
The Panthers listed no players on their injury report, which is updated throughout the week, meaning running back Stephen Davis should be able to fully participate in practice. He injured his left quadricep muscle in a divisional playoff game.
The extra week off since the NFC Championship game "helped out a whole lot," Davis said earlier this week. "Just being able to rest and get treatment. That was a big advantage to me."
Bruschi hurt his right leg near the end of the Patriots' victory over the Indianapolis Colts (news) in the AFC Championship game. Fauria was listed with a leg injury, and Pass with an ankle injury.
The team does not divulge details of injuries.
"It's going to take a lot to keep me out," Bruschi said after arriving in Houston. "Just to be out there on that nice green field to play with this team is something I'm going to make sure that I'm going to do. They might have to tie me up to keep me out of this one."
Yahoo! News - Patriots List Three on Injury Report
A few feet away, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi faced a probing question about which beer he would endorse since his name is pronounced ``Brewski.'' ``I would have to say O'Doul's,'' he said, ``because I don't drink.''
Mercury News | 01/28/2004 | Light tone kicks off Super week
Ex-Wildcat Bruschi might test strained calf today
HOUSTON - When you play linebacker in the Super Bowl, be of ill humor.
But when you are being asked over and over if your injury will allow you to play, be of good humor.
"If ever I've been on an emotional roller coaster, it's been the last week and a half," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "I feel like every day I've gotten better. But I want to get more better."
Bruschi, a former Arizona Wildcat, sustained what has been reported as a right calf strain late in the Patriots' 24-14 victory over the Colts in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 18. Patriots players are forbidden from talking about injuries, and coach Bill Belichick called Bruschi's "a sore leg."
Bruschi, 30, didn't practice last week, but he said he might try today when the Patriots continue preparation for Super Bowl XXVIII at Rice University.
"I'd like to try (some repetitions)," Bruschi said yesterday. "(Today) is the day when I feel I should be able to do some things."
Bruschi said this has been his best season. "The one main goal I have every year is to improve from last year. I think I've done that. I think I've done it eight years in a row."
One thing Bruschi won't do is say anything the Panthers could use as motivation.
"We feel like either team can win this trophy on Sunday," he said.
Welcome to the Tucson Citizen
For the players, it must get tiring having to answer the same questions over and over and over and over and over and over again. I think if Tedy Bruschi is asked one more time about stopping the Carolina running game, how his leg is progressing, how this team compares to the 2001 champs, or what makes his coach so special, he might just spontaneously combust right at his podium. But at least that would give someone a story. On a related note, the Patriots today released their injury report listing as probable Bruschi, Christian Fauria and Patrick Pass.
Boston.com / Sports / NESN / Eric Wilbur
HOUSTON -- Tedy Bruschi practiced yesterday for the first time since suffering a leg injury in the final minutes of the AFC Championship game 11 days ago and expects to play in Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina.
The Patriots practiced in pads for 90 minutes at the Texans' indoor practice facility, across from Reliant Stadium. The NFL granted the team permission to move its practices from Rice University to the Texans' facility for the remainder of the week.
"We thought it would be in the best interests of the football team to be here," coach Bill Belichick told AFC pool reporter Dan Pompei after the workout. "This is probably similar to the conditions we'll be playing in, in terms of the wind. It will be a little different surface, but this is fine."
Apparently, so is Bruschi. According to the pool report, Bruschi worked with the starters and did not favor his leg injury.
"The injury is doing well," Bruschi said yesterday morning, before practice. "I expect to get better from here on out. If things go well, then I'll be there on Sunday . . . If I have any kind of limitation, then I won't play. I don't anticipate having any limitations. I think I've taken full advantage of the extra week off. I anticipate it getting even better than it is now . . . I only expect improvement from this point out. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I'll be there."
The Patriots listed Bruschi as probable on their injury report, along with tight end Christian Fauria (leg) and running back Patrick Pass (ankle).Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Participating in practice, Bruschi expects to play
Bruschi says he can go
By Michael Felger/Patriots Notebook
Thursday, January 29, 2004
- Tedy Bruschi [news]
said he would play in Super Bowl XXXVIII Sunday against Carolina despite a
strained right calf muscle.
``I only expect improvement from
this point out,'' said Bruschi. ``What I am trying to say is I will be there.''
According to a report, Bruschi
lined up with the first team at practice yesterday and ``did not appear hampered
by his leg injury.'' Bruschi was subsequently listed as probable on the injury
report. He said he probably wouldn't have played if the game were last week, but
that the extra week has allowed him to improve enough to play in the game.
Now the question is how much
(and how well) Bruschi will play. Backup middle linebacker
Ted Johnson [news]
has gotten a lot of work during the last week and would be well-prepared for
duty if Bruschi was limited.
Two other players were listed as probable for the Pats, tight end Christian Fauria (leg) and fullback Patrick Pass (ankle). Safety Eugene Wilson [news] also came off the field yesterday, but returned after some stretching. Belichick told the pool reporter Wilson would be fine.
BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Bruschi says he can go
Injured Linebacker Tedy Bruschi Not Hampered in Practice
HOUSTON (AP) - Linebacker Tedy Bruschi didn't appear hampered by a leg injury when the New England Patriots practised Wednesday.
Every New England player participated in the 90-minute workout. Bruschi injured his leg in the AFC championship game. Patriots tight end Christian Fauria and running back Patrick Pass were also listed on the injury report.
The Patriots moved their practice to the Houston Texans' indoor field to get out of the wind, switching from Rice University. The Super Bowl on Sunday will be played in Reliant Stadium, which has a retractable roof that will most likely be closed.
"We thought it would be in the best interests of the team to be in here," coach Bill Belichick told a pool reporter. "This is probably similar to the conditions we'll be playing in, in terms of wind."
Safety Eugene Wilson came to the sidelines at one point, but he returned to practice after stretching. Belichick said the player would be fine.
Football | canada.com
Six Pats find 3rd trip Super
By IAN M. CLARK
Union Leader Sports
These guys have been there before, so the hype of the week will not bother them.
“For me this time, it is just going to be the experience,” Bruschi said. “I won’t get overly excited because I know there is a long wait. The biggest thing in big games is that once you go out there and get your first collision, you are usually OK.”
And getting that first collision in is another step toward getting that second ring.
“The ring is the symbol that you are a world champion. But the game is the moment,” Bruschi said. “The game is the real thing for me. Being able to say we won the Super Bowl is what we all want.”
The Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News - 29-Jan-04 - Patriots Notebook:<br>Six Pats find 3rd trip Super
For Tedy Bruschi and Dan Morgan, either is high praise.
By JOHN ROMANO, Times Sports Columnist
Published January 29, 2004
HOUSTON - Here at the Super Bowl, words are chosen carefully. Inferences are considered and impact is weighed.
Take passion, for instance. Fine word, passion. Conjures up images of strength, desire, maybe even mystery.
As in, Tedy Bruschi has a passion for the game.
Or, Dan Morgan takes his passion onto the field.
Sounds good, doesn't it? Assigns a certain profound quality to their names. And it sounds so much better than the alternatives.
Such as, Tedy Bruschi plays like a freakin' lunatic.
Or, Dan Morgan is a real whack job on the field.
Either description's fine. You say passion, I say nuts. It isn't going to change the way Morgan and Bruschi approach the Super Bowl.
"Don't get me wrong, Dan's a really good guy," Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers said. "But he is a little crazy on the field. He'll throw his body in front of anything. A broken bone is not going to stop him."
"Tedy Bruschi is like a blind dog in a meat house," Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson said. "You can't stop him. He just loves playing the game."
In a Super Bowl that has both defenses above the marquee, Morgan and Bruschi are like the special effects. Collisions, high-speed chases, fallen running backs? These are your guys.
They play with one eye on the ballcarrier and the other, presumably, rolled up in the back of their heads. It could very well be their passion. Or it might just be they're possessed.
These are your middle linebackers in the Super Bowl. Maybe not as ferocious as Ray Lewis, or as popular as Zach Thomas, but essential just the same.
They're the ones who make the game look like a blast. Like something out of the neighborhood park. Maybe not the smoothest or biggest cats on the field, but the ones with the most bruises and cuts.
That, actually, has been Morgan's biggest problem. Three years into his career, he has spent nearly half his time on the sideline. Concussions, a broken leg, a shoulder injury and a hernia will do that to you.
When Carolina players talk of Morgan, they invariably start sentences the same way: If Dan could stay healthy ...
If Morgan could stay healthy, he could be the same guy who was chosen with the No. 11 pick in the 2001 draft. The University of Miami star who was the first player in NCAA history to win the Butkus, Bednarik and Nagurski awards in the same season.
Panthers coaches have lectured Morgan on taking it down a notch in practice. On protecting his body instead of hurling it around the field.
Morgan knows this. Understands it. He just has a difficult time following through with it. Linebackers, he said, have a few loose screws. And, in his case, the bolts aren't too secure, either.
He was raised to be reckless. To be tougher than the next guy. His father was a nightclub bouncer and Dan Marino's bodyguard for eight years.
When Morgan was 9 or 10, the family moved to a new neighborhood in Philadelphia. Some kids were picking on the new boy and Dan's father saw it.
"He told me, "If that happens to you again and you don't do anything about it, then you're going to get beat up by me,"' Morgan said. "I went out there and took care of business."
Took care of business?
"I beat them both up."
Bruschi came to crazy later in life. For his first 10 years in school, the only time he saw a football field was at halftime. An accomplished musician who has played alto sax at Symphony Hall in Boston, Bruschi was in choir and the marching band before discovering football in high school.
He was an instant success on the defensive line, but Bruschi spent the next half-dozen years proving he belonged. At a shade over 6 feet and on the lower end of a scale, Bruschi did not draw many offers at defensive tackle.
Arizona was one of the few schools with faith, and Bruschi rewarded the Wildcats by tying the NCAA record for career sacks with 52.
Still, the NFL was unconvinced. Then-New England assistant coaches Bill Belichick and Al Groh had to convince Bill Parcells that Bruschi was worth a third-round draft choice in 1996.
The Patriots knew he wasn't big enough to play defensive line and had to find ways to get him in the lineup. He began as an outside linebacker before moving inside. It was his fourth season before he became a full-time starter.
Now, he's the defensive captain and one of the top middle linebackers in the conference.
"Tedy has come about as far as a player could," Belichick.
He's also the heart of New England's defense. Bruschi has a knack for big plays - four interception returns for touchdowns the past two seasons - but is equally important as the player everyone rallies around.
"If he could go back in time and come back as somebody, it would be like somebody in the Corleone family or the Gambino family," Johnson said. "He just has this passion and love for everything. I don't like jazz much, but the way he talks about jazz makes me want to throw out my CDs and buy all jazz albums. That's Tedy. He's just passionate about life."
Morgan and Bruschi. Bruschi and Morgan.
One is too reckless. The other too small. Neither is close to being the most famous name in the game, but they do have one thing going for them.
And you can describe it any way you choose.
Columns: Intense or insane?
No-Dozing Zone For Bruschi
January 29, 2004
By ALAN GREENBERG, Courant Staff Writer
HOUSTON -- A few hours before Super Bowl XXXVI, Tom Brady went out on the Louisiana Superdome field and spent a few minutes chatting with Rams quarterback Kurt Warner.
Then he went back to the Patriots dressing room to take a nap. Even as a quarterback in his first year as a starter, getting ready to play in his first Super Bowl, he was a relaxed guy.
Now, two years later, Brady says he's going to take a nap before kickoff for Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Would taking a nap appeal to Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi?
"No," Bruschi said. "There are different mentalities among linebackers and quarterbacks. As a linebacker, you can let the adrenaline flow and sort of let it take over you. You become animalistic. As a quarterback, if you get too excited and too ramped up, it can affect your game."
Bruschi, who left the AFC Championship Game with 1:51 left with what is reportedly a strained calf muscle, practiced Wednesday with no apparent ill effects. Before practice, he said, "The injury is doing well. I will go out to practice and do some things. I expect to get better from here on out. If things go well, then I will be there on Sunday. If I have any kind of limitations, then I won't play. I don't anticipate having any limitations. I think I have taken full advantage of the extra week off. I anticipate it getting even better than it is now. Yes, I needed the two weeks."
Now, he needs a second Super Bowl ring.
"The ring is the symbol that you are a world champion," he said. "But the game is the moment. The ring is what you get for winning the game. It's a status symbol. The game is the real thing for me. Being able to say we won the Super Bowl is what we all want."
Is he superstitious?
"A little bit. The big superstition that I have is the good luck cards that I get from my neighbor's three young daughters. They are the colored paper kind with things stapled on. I hang them from my locker after every game."
ctnow.com - SPORTS
And here is linebacker Tedy Bruschi, waxing poetically: "What is put in front of us is often complex, in terms of the game plan. Because of the constant changes and the multiple positions that you are asked to play, if you put that in front of a player who isn't able to grasp it, what good is a complex system?"
PE.com | Inland Southern California | Sports
Taking one for the team
Running back Kevin Faulk epitomizes the Patriots' attitude: Personal agendas must be put aside in order to achieve success.
Earlier this week, when it seemed linebacker Larry Izzo might have to play Sunday because starter Tedy Bruschi has a strained right calf, the backup balked at the idea his teammate's injury was a good thing for him.
''I think Tedy is a great player and I would never want to be able to play in any game, even in the Super Bowl, if it meant that one of my teammates is injured,'' Izzo said.
Izzo made his statement moments before defensive lineman Ted Washington said, ``There is a real team unity here. The way guys interact here is amazing because no one thinks of themselves first.''
The Miami Herald | 01/29/2004 | Taking one for the team
Boston Herald 1/29/04
Published: January 29, 2004
OUSTON, Jan. 28 — As a youngster of varied talents, Tedy Bruschi had to choose between a life as a football player and a life as a jazz musician. Not a bad choice for a boy.
Each offered the opportunity to travel. Each allowed for artistic expression, be it riffing in a smoky bar or dancing through the end zone after a touchdown. But football had one advantage that music did not.
"I couldn't use my saxophone to hit anybody," said Bruschi, a New England Patriots linebacker and former band member at Roseville High School in Sacramento, "so I sort of liked the helmet better."
Bruschi, as much as any Patriots defender, is a player whose intellect, skill and passion have made him a perfect fit in New England's multifaceted scheme, which asks its players to think quickly and move swiftly.
In Bruschi's third Super Bowl, there is even more focus than usual on him because of the right leg injury he sustained in the American Football Conference championship game against Indianapolis. It has limited his preparation leading up to Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Reliant Stadium.
On Wednesday, Coach Bill Belichick listed the 30-year-old Bruschi as probable to play Sunday, which translates to a 75 percent chance of his playing. To hear Bruschi tell it, however, 75 percent seems low.
"It's going to take a lot to hold me out of this game," he said. "This is the biggest game of my career."
If any team has proven it can survive injuries, it is New England, which used 42 starters and still pounded out a 16-2 record, including a 14-game winning streak that is still breathing.
Bruschi, a defensive captain, started every game and compiled 137 tackles in the regular season. (Only safety Rodney Harrison, with 140, had more.)
And in one of those streaks that combines all of the attributes of a game breaker, Bruschi became the first player in N.F.L. history to return four consecutive interceptions for a touchdown. The final two came in victories this season over Philadelphia and Miami.
"Sometimes it's tough to compete with him," Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel said, "because it seems like every time he gets an interception, he scores a touchdown. I'd have to play offense for me to get a touchdown."
Vrabel said he and Bruschi continually challenged each other to get better, throwing down gauntlets, then racing each other to the football.
"Justice would have been served if he had made the Pro Bowl this year," Vrabel said. "But he is no less of a player just because he didn't. He's heralded among the guys on the team. When you can garner the respect of the teammates and coaches, then with players like Tedy and I, that's all you need."
Playing for Bill Parcells, who drafted him for the Patriots in 1996; Pete Carroll, who shepherded his early growth; and now Belichick has given Bruschi an apprenticeship with three defensive-minded coaches.
In his eight seasons, Bruschi has lined up at every linebacker position. In his early days with the Patriots, he was a cannonball on special teams.
"In terms of my career, I'm just a guy that will play wherever Coach Belichick asks me to play," said Bruschi, who is 6 feet 1 inch and weighs 247 pounds. "This week, this year, next year, it may be a different position, but I'll play it. I've always been an interchangeable part of Coach Belichick's schemes. He's always put me in a position where I can play."
Of Bruschi, defensive lineman Richard Seymour said, "I've never seen a guy practice as hard as he does in two-a-days in training camp, so it doesn't surprise me what he does on game days."
Bruschi said a strong mind was the most important attribute for succeeding under Belichick, but he also said a long season of studying and preparing could take its toll. To balance his life, Bruschi picks up an alto saxophone three times a week and tunes into other parts of his creative self.
Sore or not, he lets his fingers dance all over the keys, sometimes while listening to the magic of John Coltrane, Grover Washington Jr. or Kirk Whalum.
Sometimes when Bruschi plays, his mind drifts to his high school years, when he was such a good athlete that The Sacramento Bee ranked him No. 1 on its list of the Sacramento area's 100 best high school football players ever.
"Roseville is always on my mind — in the front of my mind," said Bruschi, who recently ordered new shirts from his high school to wear.
Bruschi's love of music is becoming widely known. Two years ago, he performed on his saxophone as part of a quintet at Symphony Hall in Boston to benefit the Longy School of Music.
In addition to learning to play the tenor and soprano saxophones, Bruschi has tried to bring some variety to the Patriots' locker-room stereo.
"He's always playing that stuff," Seymour said.
Linebacker Willie McGinest said of Bruschi, "I've never heard him play the saxophone, but we're going to tease him about it now that you told us."
Hard Contact Is Music to Bruschi’s Ears
Ailing Bruschi Participates in
By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 29, 2004; Page D04
Ailing Bruschi Participates in Patriots' Practice (washingtonpost.com)
"Football players walk around thinking we're the toughest people in the universe," New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "But every once in a while we get a reminder."
We get a tower.
It makes us think about rocket ships. Then, maybe think about the space shuttle Columbia's seven astronauts. And maybe, too, the final minutes of their lives.
All of this is tied to Super Bowl XXXVIII because the Patriots and Panthers will play this game on the one-year anniversary of the Columbia tragedy.
It took the Columbia 16 minutes to disintegrate last Feb. 1. The shuttle tore apart, tile by tile, until there was nothing left but smoke, debris and unanswered questions. A man in Florida found a flight helmet with hair inside and a burnt NASA patch in his back yard.
"You want heroes," Bruschi said. "Astronauts are heroes."
Telling sign: You know Super Bowl week is beginning to
drag (yes, already) when Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi fields not one, but
two questions Wednesday about the Super Bowl commercials. Yes, the Super Bowl
commercials he won't get to see because of his prior obligation to actually play
in the game.
Q: ''Tedy, will you miss seeing the Super Bowl commercials on Sunday?''
A: ''No. They are fun to watch. But that is not something that I will miss.''
Incredibly, Bruschi carried on for four more sentences, noting people ''spend a lot'' on producing commercials and ''they can be quite comical.''
And then five minutes later … Q: ''What's your favorite Super Bowl commercial?''
A: ''I remember the Budweiser horses kicking the ball around. I thought that was a pretty good one.''
Please, hasten the countdown to kickoff
mcall.com - Panthers' Buckner pays homage to Jerome Brown, Dave Schultz
Bruschi and his shadow: Klecko's
journey similar to LB's
By Kevin Mannix/The NFL
Thursday, January 29, 2004
- Tedy Bruschi [news]
occupied one of the places of honor during Super Bowl Media Day at Reliant
Stadium on Tuesday.
He was one of a half-dozen
``premier players'' who were positioned at a podium with a microphone in front
Those podiums are reserved for
the players who are expected to attract most of the attention from the national
media covering Super Bowl XXXVIII. Rodney Harrison
Tom Brady [news],
Richard Seymour [news],
Ty Law [news],
Troy Brown [news]
and Bill Belichick [news]
were also at podiums.
Just in front of Bruschi,
standing with a couple of New York writers, was rookie defensive lineman
Dan Klecko [news].
If the roof of the stadium had been open, he would almost literally have been in
Figuratively, that could still
be the case. This is Bruschi's time. Klecko's could be coming.
In 1996, Bruschi was Klecko, a
rookie standing around on the sidelines at the SuperDome taking everything in.
Nearby, Drew Bledsoe, Curtis Martin, Willie McGinest
Law and Ted Johnson [news]
drew crowds to their podium positions as the Patriots
news] prepared for Super Bowl XXXI against the Packers.
Can Klecko be the next Bruschi
in a couple of more years, a star player in the NFL's biggest game? Why not?
Their games are similar. So are their temperaments. Their gears on the field are
fast and faster.
Both arrived in New England as
mid-round draft picks - Bruschi in the third round, Klecko in the fourth.
Both were undersized
overachievers in college. At Arizona, Bruschi had 52 sacks, tying the NCAA
Division 1-A record that had been set by Derrick Thomas at Alabama. Last season
at Temple, Klecko was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year as a
senior, beating out all those future first-round mega-stars from Miami.
But there were those questions
about their size. Bruschi was 6-foot, 250 pounds coming out. The Pats' media
guide generously lists Klecko at 5-11, 283. Neither was going to be a defensive
lineman at the NFL level. And scouts weren't sure they could make the transition
to linebacker. That's why they lasted as long as they did in the draft.
Like Klecko this year, Bruschi
didn't get a lot of playing time as a rookie but did make plays when he got on
the field. He had 11 tackles and four sacks as a rookie. Klecko had 14 tackles
and was in on two sacks.
Both were always around the
People noticed Bruschi right
away during his first training camp and coaches kept experimenting with him at
various positions in various situations until they put him at inside linebacker,
where he's had a Pro Bowl-caliber season.
Bruschi sees the same thing
happening with Klecko in the next few years.
``Minus a few inches and plus a
few pounds, that's me when I was a rookie,'' Bruschi said of Klecko.
``Kleck's a guy who is defined
by the words, `He's a good football player.' Now what do you do with him? Where
do you play him?
``That's just about where I was
back in '96. It took them a year or two for the coaches to figure out where they
wanted to put me and it looks like Kleck's in that mold right now. I think he's
a guy who can be a good linebacker, either outside or inside.''
If he loses weight?
``Look around the league,''
Bruschi replied. ``There are guys like Levon Kirkland who are pretty big but who
play the position well. It's been done before. I think linebacker is in his
future, but he's a guy who will always be able to rush the passer from the
inside on third downs.''
On Tuesday, Klecko spent most of
his time answering questions about his father. Dad Joe was an All-Pro defensive
lineman with the Jets for 11 years who never got to a Super Bowl.
When comparisons with Bruschi
were brought up, he just smiled.
``I just hope I can be half of
what Tedy is,'' Klecko said sheepishly. ``He's an awesome player who does so
So where does Klecko see his
``That's up to the coaches,'' he replied. ``I'll see how things shape up and go wherever they want me. I've been a nickel rusher (in passing situations). I've played a little linebacker. I've been at fullback. Whatever I have to do to get on the field, that's what I'll do.''
BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Bruschi and his shadow: Klecko's journey similar to LB's
All together now: Patriots LBs
shed the hits, stick to plan
By Howard Bryant
`But they have a bunch of guys who
are really interchangeable. Defensively, they play our defense - very flexible.
Tedy Bruschi does what
Rosevelt Colvin does, who does what Willie McGinest can do, who does what Mike
Vrabel does, who does what Roman Phifer can do. It's a testimony to their depth.
When Colvin goes down, you don't think linebacker would necessarily have been a
strength, but it turned out to be.''
The Patriots' defensive scheme
also allows talented players to do what they do best.
``You've got to be a genius to
play this defense,'' joked Johnson. ``No, you've got to be a flexible guy.
You've got to be willing to apply what you've learned in the classroom and go
out there and do it at full speed. You have to adjust. You can't be a guy who
only plays one position or one style.''
Phifer thinks part of the reason
for the Patriots' success is continuity. His 133 tackles didn't come close to
his career high of 170 in 1996 with the Rams, but was the most he'd amassed
since then. Phifer has familiarity with Bill Belichick
and Romeo Crennel. McGinest, Bruschi and Johnson
have been together since the first Kraft-era Super Bowl run in 1996.
``To come here and have the
success we had in 2001 really kind of rejuvenated and motivated me,'' said
Phifer. ``After losing for so long early in my career, to have that success is
kind of contagious. It motivates you.''
Plus, they all have championship
``That's what makes this team special,'' Phifer said. ``We've got guys here who are very unselfish. A lot of times, one week you highlight one guy and the next week he's not. You have to check your ego at the door, and we buy into it. How can you not? Winning the way we have, it's easy to buy into.''
BostonHerald.com - Patriots: All together now: Patriots LBs shed the hits, stick to plan
Bruschi ready: Feels strained calf well enough to play
By Rich Thompson
Friday, January 30, 2004
- Patriots [stats,
news] inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news]
had a sprightly bounce in his step yesterday as he approached the congested
interview area at the team hotel.
That wouldn't have warranted
such scrutiny under normal circumstances, but there has been nothing normal
about the days leading up to Super Bowl XXXVIII for one of the cornerstones of
the Pats' defense.
Bruschi's playing status for the
game was the only unknown factor in an environment in which rumors flourish and
things don't stay secret for long. Bruschi strained a muscle in his right calf
in the Patriots' 24-14 victory against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC
Championship Game at Gillette Stadium.
Bruschi flashed a million-dollar
smile beneath his properly placed Super Bowl baseball cap before he announced
that his leg was fine and he was ready to have at it with Carolina running backs
Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster.
``The news is good, the leg is
good,'' said Bruschi, who will start in his second Super Bowl in three seasons.
``I practiced hard on Wednesday and I didn't have any setbacks. I feel good and
``I didn't do every rep, but I
did a good amount. That . . . should turn into most (reps yesterday) and perhaps
all of them (today).''
Despite the aura of unbridled
optimism he inspired, Bruschi remains probable on the Patriots' injury report.
Bruschi said he must continue to monitor his progress and not take chances as
the practice sessions wind down.
``You have to stay on top of it
and not suffer any setbacks,'' Bruschi said. ``But I don't anticipate that it's
going to be a problem.
``I was running around doing the
bags and all those other types of drills. We were playing in half pads so we did
have some collisions out there. All that I can say is it performed well for me
so I'm happy.''
After casting aside all doubts
about his availability, Bruschi was free to explore the football aspects of the
Super Bowl. One of the most anticipated matchups of the game pits New England
inside linebackers Bruschi and Roman Phifer against the dynamic tailback tandem
of Davis and Foster.
Smith set single-season club
records for attempts (318) and yards (1,444) in just 14 games, and he tore
through the Cowboys, Rams and Eagles for 266 playoff yards.
cw-3Bruschi's and Phifer's
numbers are just as good on the other side of the ball. Bruschi started all 16
regular-season games and finished second on the team with 137 tackles, two sacks
and three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Phifer
started 15 games and had 133 tackles.cw-2
``It is the biggest test of all
because this is the biggest game of all,'' Bruschi said. ``If we don't stop the
running game this week, it is going to be a long game.
``That is the strength of their
team. (Tackling) is one of the many strengths of our team. It is going to be
strength vs. strength.''
Phifer and Bruschi have been
playing alongside each other for so long they could star in the football version
of the Farrelly brothers' comedy flick, ``Stuck on You.'' When the same guy has
been covering your flank for three seasons, you develop a shared sixth sense
about where the play is going.
Bruschi expects Phifer will be a
factor on Sunday.
``Phifer is the likely hero,'' Bruschi said. ``Roman has been a guy that's been solid for us all year, and this type of game is where I can see him making big plays.''
BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Bruschi ready: Feels strained calf well enough to play
PATRIOTS LB TEDY BRUSCHI vs. PANTHERS FB BRAD HOOVER
-- Michael Cunningham
Posted January 30 2004
Scouting Brad Hoover: Hoover doesn't get many opportunities to run or catch
the ball. He has four carries for 12 yards and five catches for 35 yards in the
postseason. That's actually more than Hoover was used during the regular season,
when he had six carries for 21 yards and 12 catches for 72 yards in 16 games.
Hoover's main role is blocking for Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster. He helped
the Panthers rank seventh in rushing yards per game in the regular season and
roll up 478 yards in three playoff games.
Scouting Tedy Bruschi: Bruschi can disrupt things by getting in the passing lanes. He has returned four of his past five interceptions for touchdowns. Bruschi helped the Patriots beat the Dolphins and clinch the AFC East by returning a Jay Fiedler interception 5 yards for a touchdown Dec. 7. Bruschi had three interceptions in the regular season and a total of 16 passes defended, ranking third on the team. He also has forced three fumbles.
Analysis: Bruschi is one of New England's better tacklers, and Hoover is the
main blocking back for the Panthers, so their paths inevitably will cross. The
physical matchup is even: Hoover is 6 feet, 242 pounds, and Bruschi is 6 feet 1,
247 pounds. Hoover is a bit tall for a fullback, which means he has to get his
pad level low to get leverage. Hoover, though, won't be able to do anything to
help keep Bruschi from fouling up the passing game.
Quote: "Stephen is a more powerful runner with a burst, and DeShaun is more of a speed guy who has some power and has learned as the season went on. I don't think I have to change my mind-set much because they are both still [good] backs and they both hit the hole well. They better they can hit the holes, the better I can clean out blocks for them." -- Hoover.
There's more to Bruschi than meets the eye
HOUSTON -- His name is a marketer's dream.
As in brewski.
As in, "Hey, how about a brewski?"
Think of the endorsement possibilities for New England Patriots' linebacker Tedy Bruschi. Bud? Busch? Coors? Sam Adams? Yeah, Sam Adams. That would be a perfect beer endorsement for a guy who plays football for the Patriots and goes by the name brewski . . . uh, Bruschi.
"I don't drink beer," Bruschi said. "I know with my name that's kind of like an oxymoron. But I don't drink beer."
Who'd have thought?
But then again, there is a lot about Tedy Bruschi that isn't apparent on the surface. For instance, the gonzo and ferocious way he plays linebacker was described this way by teammate and fellow linebacker Ted Johnson:
"Tedy Bruschi is like a blind dog in a meat house. You can't stop him."
And yet, who knew that Tedy Bruschi is an accomplished saxophonist? Answer: Apparently, most of his New England teammates, even though two years ago Bruschi, who also sang in his high school's choir, performed Fizzwater on the alto sax as part of a quintet at Boston's Symphony Hall to benefit the city's Longy School of Music. He loves jazz, especially current artist Kirk Whalum and deceased greats John Coltrane and Grover Washington Jr.
"Yeah, I just heard this week he plays the saxophone," said teammate and another fellow linebacker, Willie McGinest. "I'd never heard that about him before. But I'm going to tease him about it now."
Don't count on it.
Oh, Bruschi is a good-natured dude. He's also one tough hombre.
Consider Bruschi's self-explained reason why he chose football instead of a musical career.
"I couldn't use my saxophone to hit anybody," he said, a glint of a smile in his eyes. "I sort of liked hitting people with my helmet better."
Yes, he is a football player, first and foremost. Especially foremost. Bruschi is the heart of the Patriots' defense, the unit's captain and leader. Their motor. Their soul. The guy with 137 tackles this season.
Which is why nobody expects Bruschi to miss Sunday's Super Bowl XXXVIII in spite of a leg injury that has limited his preparation and been a wide source of speculation. The Patriots have a team policy that forbids anybody from talking about injuries or their nature. All that is known is that Bruschi injured his leg in the closing minutes of the Patriots' AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
What would it take to keep him out of Sunday's Super Bowl?
"A stake through the heart," Johnson said flatly. "Seriously, you'd have to drive a stake through his heart to keep him off the field."
"I think you'd have to chop his leg off," said another Patriots linebacker, Larry Izzo.
When you look at Bruschi out of uniform, it's a little hard to believe that he is so central to the Patriots and their Super Bowl hopes. Heck, it's even a little hard to believe that he is an NFL player. Bruschi is listed at 6-foot-1 and 247 pounds, but it doesn't take a trained eye to know that both figures are generous.
"If you just saw him walking into a room, you wouldn't think he was a football player," Johnson said.
Izzo says Bruschi reminds him of his old Miami Dolphins teammate and roommate, Zach Thomas, another linebacker whom scouts and experts overlooked because they had no way to measure his most important physical attribute -- the size of his heart.
Even though Bruschi was an absolute legendary prep football player in Sacramento -- in fact, The Sacramento Bee recently rated him the best high school football player ever in the city -- he hardly got more than a few sniffs from big-time colleges. He finally signed with Arizona, and merely made history by tying an NCAA record for sacks with 52, equaling the mark set by former Alabama All-American, the late Derrick Thomas.
But then Bruschi couldn't get drafted by the NFL until the third round in 1996, when Bill Parcells, the Patriots' coach back then, selected him with the 86th pick overall.
And now, eight years later, he is getting ready to play in his third Super Bowl.
And if the Patriots win, how will he celebrate?
Bruschi isn't saying. He won't even allow himself to think that far in advance.
One thing is certain, though.
Bruschi won't be having a brewski.
FLORIDA TODAY Columnists
By Times Staff
Published January 30, 2004
He may have the perfect name for a Miller Lite or Budweiser commercial, but Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi - yup, pronounced Brewski - isn't too concerned about not seeing the famous and highly anticipated commercials that air during the Super Bowl. Bruschi told reporters that while he appreciates the new commercials every Super Bowl Sunday, he won't miss them. "No, but they are fun to watch," he said. "But that is not something that I will miss. The commercials are really popular during the Super Bowl and people spend a lot of money to make them. They can be quite comical at times." Asked if he had a favorite, Bruschi replied: "I remember the Budweiser horses kicking the ball around. I thought that was a pretty good one."
- ROGER MILLS
Sports: Super without ...
HOUSTON -- Thus far, it is the signature moment of the Patriots' supernova season. It leads the highlight packages, provokes millions of smiles, and stands as the play that best demonstrates the winning ways of the most beloved local sports team since the 1967 Cinderella Red Sox.
It's Tedy Bruschi on his knees, sliding across the end zone, cradling the football as 45,378 snow-loving fans prepare to celebrate by tossing the packed powder skyward to the tune of Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2." Bruschi's 5-yard interception return of Miami's Jay Fiedler gave the Patriots an insurmountable 10-0 lead with 8:55 left and effectively clinched the AFC East title for New England.
What do you think? Is it Bobby Orr flying through the air after scoring to win the Stanley Cup? Is it Havlicek stealing the ball, or Carlton Fisk's October moondance in 1975?
Not quite. Not yet. But Bruschi's snowdance is atop the next tier of local memorable sports moments. And it has come to signify the stunning success of the 2003-04 Patriots.
Everything you need to know about the Patriots is in that one play. It's a touchdown by the defense, which is typical. It's part of a shutout of the Dolphins in a season in which they recorded three shutouts. It's a TD by a hard-working, non-star who typifies the spirit and work ethic of the team. And it's witnessed by thousands of happy people who plowed through 2 feet of game-day snow, endured hideous traffic and parking woes, then sat on snowbanks and cheered their team to victory. It's the play that'll be immortalized in the next Patriot commemorative snow globe.
The shutout of the Fish was consecutive-win No. 9 and guaranteed a home playoff game. It also made the Patriots the best bad-weather team since Vince Lombardi's titletown Packers.
The veteran inside linebacker strained his calf in the AFC Championship game but is expected to play Sunday. En route to his third Super Bowl with the Patriots, he took time this week to walk us through the play that culminated with the season's primo photo-op:
"We come out of the huddle and I see Ricky Williams," he said. "I got Ricky Williams in man-to-man coverage. There's sort of a play-action fake, but they didn't really show play-action on that play, so Ricky Williams is really in protection. So I'm still looking at Ricky Williams. He doesn't look like he's coming out to run a route. So my eyes go back to Jay Fiedler. I happened to be about 7 yards from Jay Fiedler, so my eyes go back to him -- up and to the left. I got to jump up and to the left, put my hands on the ball, come down with it and take it 5 yards.
"It gets weird. When you make a big play like that all sound just goes out of your helmet so you don't hear anything. I ended up on my knees at the end of the play and I said to myself, `Holy Smoke, that's four in a row.' That was my fourth interception in a row for a touchdown and everybody had been telling me that I had three in a row.
"When [linebacker Matt] Chatham hit me on the back of my head it was like the sound came back in my helmet and the crowd all of a sudden was throwing snow up in the air."
Bruschi's got a photo of the play in his home, but said he's keeping it in the closet for now.
"It was one of the plays I'll remember, especially the post-play reaction," he said.
There's something appropriate about a player named Bruschi (pronounced Brew-ski) representing all that is good about this Patriot team. Patriots fans traditionally have consumed the nectar of the gods in great quantities to enhance their game-day experience, but this year's team seems to have somewhat tamed Patriot Nation. No longer inebriated and angry, most Patriot fans were happy and hearty as they enjoyed the magic ride to another Super Bowl. They complained about almost nothing, not even the ridiculous conditions on the day of the Miami game.
"I guess we're providing a little bit of warmth to the New England area," said Bruschi. "They had something to look forward to these last two weeks. It's nice to know that we can provide a little bit of enjoyment."
But can they heal the wound the Red Sox inflicted on the region? Can the feel-good Patriots erase the pain left behind by the Hub's Hardball boys of bummer?
"I hope so," he answered. "I know the whole region was disappointed by the whole seventh game fiasco and everything that happened after that. It seems like that's been the Red Sox history. Hopefully, we can make 'em forget, and give 'em hope that next year the Sox can put it together like we have the last few years."
Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / He's the Patriots' Tedy Ballgame
"We are interchangeable players, especially at linebacker with Mike Vrabel and Willie McGinest," Bruschi said. "We have played this game for a while. We all started at college playing defensive end. We all have that on our résumé. We can rush the passer, and we can drop back into coverage and play man-to-man. You have to know that you will play more than one position."
You name it, Patriots' defense has it covered
Vinatieri Continues to Make Clutch Kicks
HOUSTON -- Tedy Bruschi didn't used to talk to kickers. As a linebacker and former defensive lineman, Bruschi preferred dealing with football players. Kickers, in Bruschi's eyes, need not apply.
Adam Vinatieri made Bruschi eat those words. They were rookies for the Patriots on Bill Parcells' team in 1996. Herschel Walker broke down the sidelines and appeared to be heading for a touchdown on a kickoff return. Bruschi trailed the play. Out of nowhere comes Vinatieri, using a burst of speed no one knew he had to make the touchdown-saving tackle.
"Because I was trailing the play, I had a birds-eye view," Bruschi said of his 6-foot, 202-pound teammate. "I turned my head, and I was amazed about it. I thought it was fluke that a kicker can make a tackle. I realized that this guy is for real. Now, he's one of my better friends on the team."
ESPN.com - NFL/PLAYOFFS03 - Clayton: Mr. Clutch
Heart: Bruschi will leave it all on field
By Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY
HOUSTON — The topic was pain, and Tedy Bruschi pondered for a few seconds to digest the question.
What's the most pain you've ever played with on a football field
Ever had your neck on fire?" Bruschi shot back. "Stingers are always big, when you get a hit and you feel like your arm's about to fall off for a couple of plays. That gets pretty bad. But there are different measures of pain. Shoulder things. Knee things. I've had a lot of things to deal with."
This week the New England Patriots inside linebacker is battling a pesky leg injury suffered in the waning moments of the AFC title game. Although the specifics haven't been publicly revealed because coach Bill Belichick prefers the Fort Knox approach when guarding injury information, reportedly it's a calf strain.
It was bad enough to sideline Bruschi from practices last week, and, according to Belichick, his fireball of a defensive captain has had aggressive treatment "three, four times a day."
Had the game been played last weekend, Bruschi might have been a scratch. Of all the calamities he's endured in eight NFL seasons as a punishing and relentless overachiever, this is a new one.
"Having that extra week," he says, "probably helped me out as much as any player on the team."
Undoubtedly, Bruschi's leg has been the talk of the New England region as Super Bowl XXXVIII approaches, ranked in the same neighborhood as the presidential primaries and frigid weather conditions in the Northeast.
"That's flattering," Bruschi says. "Everybody wants to know about my leg and how I'm doing, and I do, too. Just know that I am going to do everything I can to be out there and help this team win."
If Bruschi can walk (and he can), it would be a Dick Gephardt-like upset if he didn't find himself in the thick of the action Sunday, when the game could hinge on the Patriots' ability to handle Carolina's bread-and-butter rushing game.
"I'm a tough guy. This is the biggest game of my career," Bruschi says. "I've been in two Super Bowls before, but this is the one right now that's in the current. So it's going to be very difficult to keep me out of this game."
Super Bowl history is filled with players passing personal gut-checks in order to play in the game with the highest stakes.
The day before former Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams' MVP performance in Super Bowl XXII, he had a wisdom tooth extracted.
Former Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Jack Youngblood got to Super Bowl XIV by hobbling on a broken leg.
Troy Aikman, the Dallas Cowboys' three-time champion quarterback, willed himself into Super Bowl XXVIII a week after suffering the worst concussion of his career.
Bruschi knows exactly why they ignored their physical setbacks. It begins with a passion for the game. And it doesn't get any better than a Super Bowl.
"If it's a borderline situation, then I need to go," Bruschi says. "You have to have the ability to block things out, block out the pain and pressure. Sometimes you just have to say, 'Tape it up.' "
That's Bruschi, speaking from the heart. And if there's one defining characteristic of a player who never played linebacker until he joined the Patriots as a third-round pick in 1996 out of Arizona — he was too small (6-1, 247) to play his college position, defensive end, in the NFL — then that's the ticket.
When teammates talk about Bruschi, the 137 tackles he posted this season, his run-stuffing instincts and knack for big plays are rarely mentioned first. Instead they rave about his impact as a fiery leader and his willingness to battle. On a defense full of overachieving, crafty battlers, Bruschi is akin to an electrical current.
"This is the kind of guy that you know when he's on the field something is going to happen," defensive end Bobby Hamilton says. "And when you see that in his eyes, everybody on the field gets excited and focused, too."
Hamilton, who entered the NFL nine years ago as an undrafted free agent, laughed when asked to explain how a player such as Bruschi could thrive in the NFL. He's not the biggest, fastest or strongest. He doesn't look the part, like all-pro middle linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher. But, he too, is one of the best in the business.
"That's the point with the NFL," Hamilton says. "They always look at players and how they look, but they can't look in their heart."
Says Bruschi: "If you don't have the heart, you get a little ding or something like that, it would be easy to say, 'I'm good for today, Coach. I'm going to put some ice on it, and I'm done.'
"Or you can grit your teeth, suck it up and say, 'I'm OK, and I'm going to keep on going. No matter what this injury is, I'm going to deal with it after the game.' "
Snapshot of heart
Bruschi exemplifies heart as well as any player on a New England Patriots defense that thrives on a collection of disciplined role players. What Bruschi might lack in size, speed and Pro Bowl credentials (zero), he makes up for with a determined will that spreads throughout the unit.
"Tedy's a high-energy player who's always hustling and always thinking positively in terms of team football," Belichick says. "I think he's tremendously respected by our other players and people in the organization. He's a real leader."
USATODAY.com - Heart: Bruschi will leave it all on field
BUZZIN' ABOUT ... Bruschi expected to start:
Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who was out for the final 1:51 of the AFC Championship Game two weeks ago with what was reportedly a strained calf muscle in his right leg, is expected to start today in Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Carolina Panthers.
Bruschi, an eight-year veteran who was second on the team in solo tackles during the regular season, is listed as probable, which, according to NFL guidelines, is supposed to mean he has at least a 75 percent chance of playing.
The media's last access to the Patriots and Panthers was Thursday. Asked Saturday if the Patriots could provide an update on Bruschi's status, publicist Stacey James said, "We're going to give the same update on Bruschi that we give on Tom Brady and (Willie) McGinest and everyone else."
None, in other words.
Bruschi, who seemed to be in a good mood all week during practice, made it clear Thursday he thought he would feel good enough to play.
"We don't tell a lot about injuries around here," Bruschi said. "But I think you can tell by people's demeanors if they're going to play. If I wasn't going to play, I probably wouldn't say a word right now, and just sort of sulking. But I think things are going well, and I'm upbeat."
Thankfully, the moment of truth has arrived. The National Football League can push the kickoff back no longer.
We have finally reached the Super Bowl after enjoying one of the most heady weeks in recent memory. How could it not be when the most compelling story has been Tedy Bruschi's injured leg and Bill Belichick's mind games concerning his health. Is it his calf or his patella tendon or bunions? Will he be 75 per cent recovered or 82.5 per cent? Boxers or briefs?
Riveting storyline. The last time a limb grabbed this many headlines, Tonya Harding was trying to sabotage Nancy Kerrigan's Olympic hopes.
It has been a slow week. The truth about Bruschi is that if the New England linebacker cannot play, big fellow Ted Johnson will. Not much of a dropoff there.
Patriots have the legs to triumph - www.theage.com.au
There’s always pressure to live up to your own expectations, linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, but the Patriots aren’t focused on what they’ve done in the past, or what kind of win streak they’re on right now. They still take it one week at a time. That’s how it’s been all year, and now this is the final week.
"We don’t look at it as a 14-game win streak," Bruschi said. "We look at it as 14 one-game win streaks. That’s where are focus is. We don’t let that other stuff bother us. We understand what’s at stake and we’ll be ready on Sunday."
The Register Citizen
But it's still the biggest game of the year.
"I think the true football fan will have plenty to watch on Super Bowl Sunday," says Tedy Bruschi, a linebacker for the New England Patriots (for those who don't know). "The chance to see two quality defenses go at it is a part of football."
Here are some lesser-known defensive players to keep an eye on in this game ...
No. 54, Tedy Bruschi, linebacker -- A mysterious leg injury had many wondering whether he'd be ready, but right now, it looks like he will. He had 137 tackles in the regular season and returned four straight interceptions for TDs.
SI.com - Defensive players get a chance to shine - Saturday January 31, 2004 12:24PM
Sunday, February 01,
Super Bowl XXXVIII Spotlight
He’s Super man again
Roseville grad to play in third Super Bowl today if reported calf strain doesn’t sideline him
By Bruce Burton
Gold Country News Service
|New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is flanked by Roseville head football coach Larry Cunha and his son, Zac Cunha, after the Cunhas attended the Patriots’ AFC title-clinching, 24-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago in Foxboro, Mass. COURTESY PHOTO|
tended to his media commitments for Super Bowl XXXVIII Wednesday afternoon, New
England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi donned a Roseville High sweatshirt —
much as he did when he last played for the Tigers 13 years ago.
Media types mostly ignored Bruschi’s attire, just as some NFL scouts ignored the man himself when he was an undersized defensive end at the University of Arizona. But at least one of his teammates, former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver J.J. Stokes, understood the shirt’s significance.
“He’s from California, so he knows about Roseville,” Bruschi said of Stokes on Wednesday night from Houston, where the Patriots are preparing to take on the Carolina Panthers today in search of their second NFL title in three years.
Bruschi, who also played in the 1997 and 2002 Super Bowls with the Patriots, is making a habit of taking a little bit of Roseville with him on his latest Super run.
Roseville head football coach Larry Cunha, who coached Bruschi, and assistant Mike Woessner and their families attended the Patriots’ 24-14 American Football Conference title-clinching win over the Indianapolis Colts in Foxboro, Mass., two weeks ago. That was thanks to a last-minute offer of tickets by Bruschi on the Thursday prior to the game.
“Over the last four or five years (we’ve stayed in touch) pretty consistently,” said Cunha, who estimated that the two e-mail or call each other once a week during NFL seasons, and a bit more often in the offseason.
“He’s still genuine and down-to-earth. He’s not caught up in his success. He’s all of those great things we’d like our football players — our people in general — to be.”
The 6-foot-1, 240-pound veteran middle linebacker also figures to be a crucial part of the Patriots’ stingy defense if New England is to defeat the run-oriented Panthers. But at the start of the week, his availability was up in the air due to a leg injury he suffered late in the win over the Colts.
In the days since that game, some media outlets have reported that the 30-year-old suffered a calf strain. The Patriots’ policy is to remain mum on the specifics of player injuries, and Bruschi abided by that edict Wednesday. He allowed, however, that it was serious enough to where, had the Super Bowl been scheduled for last Sunday, he wouldn’t have been in condition to play.
“I practiced (Wednesday) and didn’t have any problems, so I don’t anticipate it being any problem,” he said. “I felt good (Wednesday), and I still have Thursday, Friday, Saturday and a little bit of Sunday to get better.”
Not that there was ever any doubt that Bruschi would give it a go today as long as his leg was still attached to his body. In his eight years in the NFL, his longest inactive stint has been four games — and that came at the end of last season when he suffered a right-knee injury.
“I think people know that if I’m out, I have to be hurting pretty bad,” Bruschi said.
Around Roseville, people have always known about Bruschi’s toughness. That quality and his non-stop intensity are two of the major reasons he is considered one of the top players ever to grace the high school football stage in the Sacramento area.
But Cunha notes that while other NFL players with Sacramento connections, such as Minnesota Vikings running back Onterrio Smith (Grant), New Orleans Saints wide receiver Donte Stallworth (Grant) and Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs (Elk Grove) are in the same positions they’ve played since high school, Bruschi has evolved from a high school lineman into one of the NFL’s better linebackers.
That evolution, Bruschi said, was “the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do as a football player. I was always used to putting my hand in the dirt and going after the quarterback. To reinvent myself, it was like night and day. The techniques are different, the reads are different.
“It took two to three years (in the NFL) until I could say I was comfortable playing line-backer. My first few years I was mostly a third-down specialist, and that bought me time until I learned the position.”
As a specialist and a rookie, Bruschi had two sacks of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre in the 1997 Super Bowl, though the Packers won 35-21. Two years ago, he and the rest of the Patriots’ defense shut down the high-flying St. Louis Rams until the fourth quarter en route to a 20-17 Super Bowl victory.
This year, for the first time, the Patriots are favorites going into the big game. But Bruschi said his team’s experience — and success — as underdogs in the past means they won’t get full of themselves now.
“It really makes us focus and prepare even more,” he said. “We were a two-touchdown underdog (against St. Louis) and we won, so we realize anybody can win. We realize that the trophy is up for grabs.”
OVC professor, Pats player in same ensemble
By DAVE PAYNE SR.
BELPRE - As Belpre resident Andrew Cook watches the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers compete for Super Bowl rings today, he can recall a time when one of the rings dangled loosely on his finger.
Cook, a Parkersburg native and assistant professor of music at Ohio Valley College, played saxophone with New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi just a few months after the Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002.
Cook worked as a saxophone instructor at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass., when Bruschi agreed to play in a saxophone ensemble for a benefit concert. The sextet, consisting of Bruschi, Cook and four students, spent about two months rehearsing a ragtime piece for the concert, Cook said.
"He (Bruschi) was really good for an amateur (saxophone) player and certainly did better with a saxophone than I would do in the NFL," Cook said.
Bruschi has played the saxophone for years. As a junior in high school, Bruschi played on his school's junior-varsity football team and marched with the varsity band, Cook said.
When rehearsals for the benefit began, Bruschi arrived with a beat-up Bundy saxophone.
"It looked like he had marched with it in high school," Cook said.
It wasn't as though Bruschi and his old saxophone were inseparable - the player had his hopes set on a new instrument, Cook said.
"He said he hoped his wife would get him one for his birthday. That really amazed me; this guy makes millions a year and still hopes his wife will buy him a saxophone for his birthday," Cook said.
That birthday came and went and Bruschi returned to rehearsal with his old alto sax.
"He said he hoped his wife would get him one for Christmas. I couldn't believe it. That's how down-to-earth this guy is," Cook said.
Cook said if he had a Super Bowl ring it would never leave his finger, but Bruschi only wears his on special occasions. Bruschi brought his ring on the night of the concert and passed it around for Cook and the students to try on.
"I could have gotten two of my fingers in it, and it was extremely heavy," Cook said.
When the group left the room, the ring was left on a window sill, Cook said.
"He was pretty shaken up about it, but luckily it was still there when he came back for it," Cook recalled.
There was one burning question Cook, himself a die-hard Patriots fan, had to ask: "What's it like standing in the tunnel waiting to come out for the Super Bowl?"
"He said the atmosphere is absolutely electric. Every nerve tingles and you can't stand still," Cook said.
Bruschi told Cook the decision of the Patriots defense to be named as a unit, instead of individually, was a strong source of motivation in Super Bowl XXXVI.
That Super Bowl is considered by many to be one of the game's most exciting match-ups, as the Patriots won 20-17 with a last-second field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
"(Bruschi) said he was standing there praying when that field goal was kicked," Cook said.
The lessons the OVC teacher learned from the experience are not lost on his students, especially those in music-appreciation courses. Those students' primary interests usually have nothing to do with music, Cook said.
"Music is not just something for musicians, but for people of all types of backgrounds, all occupations. This can really enrich your life.
"(Bruschi) is a great example of how arts can be a great influence on anyone's life, even a football player. You wouldn't think anyone in such a violent sport would have that kind of interest, but the saxophone is his release," Cook said
NewsandSentinel.com: OVC professor, Pats player in same ensemble - - The Parkersburg News & Sentinel
not about to miss this
Michael Parente 02/02/04
Tedy Bruschi wasn’t about to miss the Super Bowl with a mere calf injury.
Bruschi played Sunday night against the Carolina Panthers despite straining his right calf two weeks ago in the AFC championship game.
He limped off the field late in the fourth quarter of New England’s 24-14 win over Indianapolis and the early prognosis did not look good.
Considering that Patriots coach Bill Belichick kept his linebacker’s status under wraps, no one knew the extent of the injury until reports surfaced later in the week. He was listed as probably on the injury report.
Bruschi kept quiet on the subject as well, adhering to team policy, but he did not miss any team practices in Houston last week and reported that his condition was improving on a daily basis.
Having two weeks off before the Super Bowl helped. Bruschi’s presence was good news for the Patriots, who faced the Panthers’ sixth-ranked rushing attack and held them to 92 yards on the ground.
Carolina running back Stephen Davis finished the season with 1,444 yards and eight touchdowns.
Hours before the game, Bruschi looked nimble as he ran a series of drills on the field. Considering his workman-like attitude and high threshold for pain, few doubted that he would play, but in order to keep the Panthers guessing, the Patriots made it as secretive as possible.
Only on Friday did Bruschi announce that he expected to play, though he pointed out that it would still be a coach’s decision on Sunday.
New Haven Register
Belichick after final full practice: 'We're ready to play' the Panthers
Asked to guess an unlikely hero of tomorrow's Super Bowl, Tedy Bruschi picked fellow insider linebacker Roman Phifer. "Phif has sort of been a guy for us all year that has just been solid," said Bruschi. "And this is the type of game where you can look and see him making a few big plays, and (the media) saying, 'Where did he come from?' But we wouldn't be surprised if Phif was the guy."
"Thanks, Tedy," Phifer said when told of Bruschi's superhero pick.
Lowell Sun Online - Sports
Said Pats offensive coordinator Charlie Weis: "Who would you rather have run a two-minute drive at the end of the game than Tom Brady?"
"He's the two-time Super Bowl MVP," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "But I think the good thing about Tom is he'll always call it a team victory."
Carolina burned a timeout, then Vinatieri -- with thousands of camer strobes flashing -- ripped the 41-yarder down the middle to end it.
"Put it up there with our win two years ago," said Bruschi. "It started out living up to its billing, but then the floodgates opened and it turned out we just needed one more play and it came down to Tom and Adam.
"There was no doubt it was going to go through," Bruschi said of Vinatieri. "He could miss the previous 10 kicks but he's got mental toughness and time and time again he's come through for us."
Bruschi was asked if he'd have to watch the game again to process everything that happened he said, "I was on the field saying, 'What's going on? What's going on?!' They were moving the ball up and down the field, our offense is going up and down the field. It happened before the half and then, all of a sudden, in the fourth, here we go again. The fans got their money's worth."
Projo.com | Providence | Patriots
The first time was charming and wondrous. Winning two years ago was a fairy tale come true. The second time was methodical and precise. Winning this year was predictable and satisfying. Like, why can't we win 15 in a row? As Tedy Bruschi says, "It's just 15 one-game winning streaks."
It became routine among the media this season to kid that the Patriots were "drinking the Kool-Aid." You never could get anyone in this congregation to admit that Bruschi was even capable of thinking more than one game ahead. And will outsiders please recognize that, unlike the 1972 Dolphins, these Patriots played a challenging schedule, defeating six teams that won 10 games? The 2003 Patriots had one of the truly great seasons in NFL history, period.
Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Following in great footsteps
"You always get surprised when Adam misses one," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "Then you get really surprised when he misses two. But you know he's made so many in his career he's going to come back."
"You've got No. 12 out there, and you know what he's capable of doing," Bruschi said. "You expect those sorts of things."
Super Bowl: Vinatieri . . . again
So, Patriot Tedy Bruschi, what were you thinking before he launched his last
"No doubt. No doubt. No doubt," Bruschi said. "He's kicked so many big ones, we knew he would do it again."
Being locked up in the playoffs prevented Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis from getting interviewed for most of the head coaching openings that sprung up throughout the league at season's end.
Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, "When there were seven or eight head coaching jobs available, I looked at some of the guys on our defense and said, 'We're going to lose RAC (Crennel). We're going to lose RAC. What are we going to do?'
"I thought it was in the bag that he was going to get a job, and I only thought that because of the outstanding job he does with us. I see him as a head coach."
Weis also said it was a travesty that Crennel was not given an opportunity. The same, of course, is true for Weis, who calls every Patriot offensive play and is ready to be a head coach.
The Oakland Press
But on the goal line, the Patriots turned to Vrabel.
Only this one was on offense.
On second and goal from the 1-yard line, the Patriots called a pass play for Vrabel, who had lined up at tight end. Looking like an experienced offensive player, the 28-year-old snagged Brady's pass and held on for the touchdown.
"All year long, he's always been telling us he's good on offense," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We gave him the ball and he came through. Two sacks (and a touchdown), the guy can play both sides of the ball. It's a pretty good day."
Sports: Vrabel has big day on big stage
Tedy Named All-Iron Team Captain and wins Escalade!!
The All-Iron Team honors 12 players who meet or exceed the following qualifications: the player must be a starter or significant contributor to his team; the player must demonstrate dedication, toughness and coachability; the player must be well-liked by his teammates; and most importantly, the player must be an asset to his community.
Simms will award a brand new 2004 Cadillac Escalade to this season’s All-Iron Team Captain. The captain has already been selected and his name remains in a sealed envelope until announced by Simms.
The All-Iron Team trophy is an old fashion cast “iron” signifying Simms’ obsession with ironing. According to Simms’ mom, Barbara, "As a child Phil even ironed his football and baseball uniforms." To this day, he is still committed to his creases.
Tedy: Two good to be true
By Gus Martins
Monday, February 2, 2004
HOUSTON - Basking in the glow of victory
just moments after last night's Super Bowl win over Carolina, linebacker
Tedy Bruschi [news]
couldn't yet tell whether the win was more rewarding than the team's first-ever
championship - won two years ago over St. Louis.
hesitation, he did say the Pats' 32-29 victory catapulted the team into a whole
``This one was
gratifying,'' he said. ``I think that 2001 was our coming-out party, and with
that championship I think that people were able to say, `Hey, those guys are
good football players.' But with this one we now prove that we are also a
dominant team and not just a team that came out of nowhere.''
dominant, resourceful, persistent. Last night they needed that and more to hold
onto a game that went from a 14-10 defensive struggle at halftime to a game that
exploded into an all-out aerial assault that almost nobody could have predicted.
In the first
half, the Panthers gained a lowly 109 total yards while the
news] had 203. In the second half, those numbers ballooned to 278 for both
Carolina and the Pats. That turnaround surprised even the players.
``I think people
thought it was going to be a defensive-dominating game and it started that way,
and at first we were getting a lot of three-and-outs, but they just kept
coming,'' Bruschi said. ``They kept coming and their offense kept coming. I
think today the offenses got an upper hand on the defenses, but our offense was
just lucky to have a guy like Tom Brady [news]
who got the job done.
``I think the
game defined us as a team. Sometimes our defense would be dominant and we were
today at the beginning. But our offense also has the ability to put points on
the board when it has to and tonight it did that.''
Brady was the
game's MVP. But Bruschi also applauded Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme, whom
he said continued a relentless assault against the Patriots in the second half
that culminated with two fourth-quarter touchdowns and 323 total passing yards
in 16 completions out of 33 attempts.
``He showed me that he's a player and that he'll keep coming at you because it wasn't easy because we had dominated them in the first half,'' he said. ``He just kept coming, trying to buy time in the pocket and wait for his receivers to get open. I think he's a guy who can deal with adversity.''
BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Tedy: Two good to be true
"It was like, I don't know, a snowball coming down a hill," said Tedy Bruschi, the Patriot linebacker who watched a defensive struggle spin out of anyone's control. "We'd make a play. Then they'd make one. I'm standing there, thinking, what's going on here? How do we make this stop?"
Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / It's all about seeing stars
When he stepped off the bus, Deion Branch, the second-year wideout from Louisville who factored prominently in the victory by making 10 catches for 143 yards, was totally unprepared for the outpouring from the Foxborough Faithful.
"Every team wants to be in this position," Branch said. "It's great. The fans feel good, we feel good. Everything's good. Some of the guys on our team who came over from other teams, they can't believe this type of atmosphere here."
Said Bruschi: "I've been here a lot of years and I know when you bring a championship back to New England this is what you get."
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, "I'm used to it now because this is the way they've been the whole year. They've been supporting us ever since I've been here for eight years, so this is what you expect when you bring a championship to New England."
While there remained questions about the unresolved contract status of All-Pro cornerback Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi said he was confident management would do whatever was necessary to keep the team intact. "I trust the people in the front office will get us prepared," he said. "I haven't even started thinking about it, I just want to rest up and enjoy this."
Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / At Gillette, a raucous reception greets team
"This is awesome! This is great! I love these fans! This is great!" yelled lineman Tedy Bruschi from his duck.
Bruschi thanked the fans for their constant support.
""Whether it was 20 below, or three feet of snow, you were there and we thank you for that. I got one guarantee for next year, and it's we're going to take it one game at a time," said Bruschi.
Two years ago, it was owner Robert Kraft. This time, the highlight of the rally at City Hall Plaza was coach Bill Belichick attempting to move to music -- appropriately enough, Jay-Z's "Encore." Put it this way: Belichick is a pretty good coach.
"If I was a member of the scouting department, I would say he was a little stiff in the hips," Tedy Bruschi said a few hours after the victory parade. "But he's got potential."
For one day at least, the coach and his players didn't have football on their minds.
"You wouldn't believe how many deep breaths I've finally taken," Bruschi said. "We've exhaled. We compressed our success. We took it one game at a time and kept it at bay. One, two, three, four games in a row -- we didn't want to hear about it. Four, five, six games in a row -- we didn't want to hear about it. Eleven, 12, 13 in a row -- we still didn't want to hear about it. All of sudden you take a look at this season, it's impressive what we did. You sit back and take a look at it, not many people can do what we did."
Each player acknowledged the fans for their support.
"Whether it was 20 below or 3 feet of snow," Bruschi said, "you were there. We thank you for that."
"Just when I think they can't impress me anymore," Bruschi said later, "that I can't have any stronger feelings toward them, they have a parade like that."
Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Victory dance
Tedy Bruschi said yesterday evening that he was still bothered by the strained calf muscle he suffered in the AFC Championship game. "I'm limping around," Bruschi said. "It was tough going up the stairs [for the rally at City Hall Plaza]. But whether it was the Super Bowl or Week 3, I'm going to suck it up and put it on the line for the team, the organization, and the fans."
Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Prognosis is good after Harrison surgery
Patriots notebook: What happens
By Michael Felger / Boston Herald
Wednesday, February 4, 2004
When does a
championship finally sink in? Tedy Bruschi, who was up until 4:30 a.m. yesterday
watching a tape of the Super Bowl, said it was during the parade.
"I was talking
to (Richard) Seymour on the bus on the way down, and I told him, the first time,
it didn't really sink in until the magnitude of the parade," he said. "Today was
the day it really sunk in for me that we made a difference in a lot of people's
Mike Vrabel said
the celebration was bigger than two years ago, partly because he felt like the
Pats have validated their 2001 championship.
"I may be making
that up because it's still fresh in my mind. But right now it feels like it
was," he said. "One's a fluke. Two you have to recognize."
maintaining their focus during their 15-game winning streak, Bruschi said it
felt as if a huge weight had been lifted.
believe how many deep breaths I've finally taken," Bruschi said. "Just exhale
and relax. We've suppressed our success so well this year. We've kept it at bay.
Six, seven, eight in a row. We didn't want to hear about it. Nine, 10, 11, 12.
Next day. Next game. Thirteen, 14, 15. ... All of a sudden you can look at it
and be proud of it now and say not every team can do that."
"Privately, we weren't as uptight about it as it came across. But there is an
element there where you don't have to get ready for the next opponent. So enjoy
Seymour took time during the rally to elicit a cheer for safety Rodney Harrison, who underwent surgery yesterday to repair a broken arm suffered late in the fourth quarter Sunday. Troy Brown also happily revealed that he suffered a broken nose in the first quarter.
MetroWest Daily News - Sports Coverage
New England Patriot tough guy Tedy Bruschi blowing the alto sax at Scullers Jazz Club for a piece on the Phil Simms All Iron Team showcase .
-- After coach Bill Belichick attempted to move (not dance) to Jay-Z's "Encore'' during the Patriots' victory celebration Tuesday at Boston's City Hall Plaza, linebacker Tedy Bruschi told the Boston Globe, "If I was a member of the scouting department, I would say he was a little stiff in the hips.''
The weather outside was frightful -- two feet of snow on the ground (and in the stands), the thermometer 28 degrees and dropping, and a northerly wind gusting to 25 miles per hour. But for the Patriots and their foul-weather fans, who tossed fistfuls of white stuff into the air to create a Winter Carnival atmosphere, the outcome was delightful, a 12-0 smothering of the shivering Dolphins that left no doubt about who was the AFC East's best team.
"That was incredible, wasn't it?" exulted linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who returned an interception 5 yards midway through the fourth quarter for the day's only touchdown. "Throwing the snow up in the air with the music. It got me into the holiday spirit."
It was as if the game were played inside a giant children's snow dome created by NFL Properties. Except that there was no dome atop Gillette Stadium, which might as well have been airlifted to the Siberian wastelands.
The Foxborough fortress had been left roofless by design when the architects drew up the plans. "Why did the Bills make it to four straight Super Bowls? Because people had to go through Buffalo," mused Patriots owner Bob Kraft. "People don't want to go to Green Bay."
And the Dolphins, who go hypothermic when the mercury dips below 70, certainly didn't want to be playing at this end of Route 1 on Dec. 7. They'd flown through a blizzard and didn't arrive in Providence until Saturday evening. And as soon as it took the field, the Miami offense froze solid, managing just seven first downs and 134 yards, and punting a club-record 11 times.
The visitors, who rolled up 40 points at Dallas a week earlier, began drives five times inside their 20 and went three-and-out on 10 of 15 possessions. And quarterback Jay Fiedler, who'd seen a few snowflakes during his Dartmouth days, found himself being chased like a cottontail rabbit by the New England defenders, who harassed him into a 13-for-31 passing performance, picked him off twice, forced him to fumble, and sacked him five times, once for a safety.
It was a day when the Patriot offense could have stayed inside beside a crackling fire. All the hosts needed was a 29-yard field goal by Adam "Frosty" Vinatieri in the first quarter. Everything else was whipped cream atop a mug of hot chocolate.
"I've been reading that they're lucky," said Miami linebacker Zach Thomas. "They're not lucky. They're a great football team."
Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Give 'em a snow shoo
Pats a study in
By Kevin Mannix/Patriots Report Card
Sunday, February 8, 2004
The versatility of
Willie McGinest [news],
Mike Vrabel [news],
Tedy Bruschi [news]
and Roman Phifer made all the difference in the defensive game plans. McGinest
and Vrabel could play linebacker or on the defensive line. Bruschi and Phifer
could rush the passer or drop into coverage with equal effectiveness.
As a group, the linebackers were
dominant against the Titans and Colts and were very good in the Super Bowl.
Vrabel made the biggest play of that game, sacking Delhomme and forcing a fumble
that was recovered by Seymour, leading to the Pats' first points of the game.
Bruschi didn't make much of an impact in the Super Bowl game but his injured calf was a factor. Because of the injury, he wasn't able to move around as feverishly he usually does, keeping him from getting into his drop zones against the pass as quickly as usual. That's where the Panthers attacked when they made their move in the second half.
BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Pats a study in excellence
Patriots Beat by Tom E. Curran: Patriots face key player decisions
01:00 AM EST on Sunday, February 8, 2004
LET'S FIX THIS NOW
Two players whose contracts expire at the end of the '04 season are linebacker Tedy Bruschi and left tackle Matt Light.
Bruschi is down to make less than $2 million and he's worth more than that. The Pats should extend him before the season and avoid getting him bitter since he is a team leader.
Projo.com | Providence | Patriots
"I haven't thought about next year," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, striding through the snow as the Patriots greeted thousands of welcoming fans at Gillette Stadium. "Right now, we're just sort of resting up and enjoying ourselves, and I trust that the people in the front office will keep us focused and ready to go."
Branson Daily News
=== The Sports Network's 2003-04 All-NFL Team ===
ILB-Tedy Bruschi, New England Patriots Stats: 134 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions, 2 TDs Notes: Bruschi isn't as physically gifted as some of his peers, but few players play their respective roles better than this steady veteran. Under Bill Belichick's watch, Bruschi has developed into one of the league's best all-around linebackers. He's been a huge part of both Super Bowl-winning teams and seems to always come up with big plays in crucial situations.
The Herald News
What If Colvin Had Stayed Healthy
By: Bob George/BosSports.net
Tedy Bruschi enters the final year of his contract with a chance to make a big score at the end of the season, unless the Patriots lock him up before he hits the open market. Still underrated nationally but practically deified locally, he has become a rare player who has parlayed his undersized frame into a ferocious linebacker who has become the heart and soul of the defense. And that’s saying a lot, given that the former heart and soul now plays strong safety for Buffalo.
What Bruschi gives the Patriots more than anything else is largely unquantifiable. He has the personality and the work ethic which makes players around him play at higher levels. He has a fire within him which is both unmistakable and contagious. It could be said that it was his fiery personality and his setting examples which helped get the Patriot linebacker corps through the rash of injuries they sustained in 2003, and what helped them drive the Patriots to a world championship. His lack of national recognition may be temporary, for if he continues to improve in the 2004 season, he will hit the open market with the impact of Ted Washington doing a cannonball off of a diving board.
(full article) New England Patriots Coverage - What If Colvin Had Stayed Healthy By: Bob George/BosSports.net
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