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Updated    12/05/10

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2004 Season

Click here for entire Bruschi Article Archive

 

Training Camp Positional Analysis: Linebackers
22 Jul 04 / by Frank Tadych, Patriots.com 

Over the course of the coming weeks Patriots.com will take a look at the position-by-position roster battles that fans can expect to see when training camp kicks off on July 29 at Gillette Stadium.

If you're a Patriots fan looking for the typical training camp fodder of heated position battles and depth chart intrigue, you may want to look past the linebacker position. The Patriots return all four starters at linebacker in 2004, and considering a return to health of Rosevelt Colvin and a proposed position switch by Dan Klecko, the linebacker group – already a team strength – also becomes one of the deepest positions on the team. With so much certainty at the position, expect head coach Bill Belichick and the coaching staff to keep as many as nine linebackers on the opening roster.

The Patriots corps is made up of a group of veteran stalwarts, starting with Tedy Bruschi and Roman Phifer at inside linebacker. Bruschi (6-1, 247) started all 16 games for the Patriots in 2003 and finished second on the team with 137 tackles. He added two sacks and a career-high three interceptions – two of which he returned for touchdowns. Bruschi is joined in the middle by Phifer (6-2, 248), who started 15 of his 16 games last season after starting all 30 of his previous games since joining the Patriots before the 2001 season.

Phifer increased his tackle total for the third-straight season, finishing third on the team with 133 stops after registering a team-high 109 in 2002. Since he joined New England after spending his previous 10 seasons with the Rams and Jets, Phifer is the Patriots leading tackler with 334 over the last three seasons. Also in the middle for the Patriots is 10th-year player Ted Johnson (6-4, 253), who was a second-round pick in 1995 and has spent his entire career with the team. Johnson was limited to eight games in 2003 because of a broken foot suffered in the opener, but made two starts and registered 26 tackles.

An intriguing question surrounding the Patriots linebackers is the status of Klecko. A fourth-round pick in 2003, Klecko (5-11,283) played his rookie season along the defensive line, but spent June's mini-camp getting repetitions at inside linebacker. Klecko would provide much needed youth at the position for the Pats; three of the four listed starters are 31 years or older, with 28-year-old Mike Vrabel the youngest of the group. Larry Izzo (5-10, 228) is officially listed at inside linebacker but is solely a special teams player – but a successful one at that. Izzo led the team with 31 special teams tackles last season, and has been named to the Pro Bowl following the 2000 and 2002 seasons as the AFC's special teams representative.

One of the biggest acquisitions by the Patriots in recent years was Colvin, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Chicago Bears prior to the 2003 season. Colvin (6-3, 250) was expected to step in as a starter at outside linebacker after registering 21 sacks the previous two seasons, but suffered a fractured hip in the second game of the season and was placed on injured reserve following season-ending surgery. Colvin took part in mini-camp, but uncertainty surrounds his official status – not if he will return, but rather when – as he prepares for training camp.

Vrabel and Willie McGinest provide the Patriots unique flexibility at outside linebacker. Both have the ability to play effectively against the run and the pass, allowing coaches to leave either on the field at linebacker or as a down lineman regardless of the defensive scheme. McGinest (6-5, 270), who has the second longest tenure of any Patriot, registered 5.5 sacks and 79 tackles last season – his highest tackle total since 1999. Vrabel (6-4, 261) played perhaps his best pro season in 2003, collecting 69 tackles, two interceptions and a career-high 9.5 sacks to lead the Patriots.

Matt Chatham (6-4, 250) enters his fifth season with the team as a valuable reserve and special teams player. Chatham started four of his 16 games last season and also registered 19 special teams tackles. Also in the mix at outside linebacker are nine-year veteran Don Davis and second-year player Tully Banta-Cain. Davis (6-1, 235) was active for 15 games last season and finished second on the team with 24 special teams tackles. Banta-Cain, a seventh-round pick in 2003, began the season on the physically unable to perform list before contributing on special teams the remainder of the season.

New to Patriots camp at linebacker in 2004 will be fourth-year player Justin Kurpeikis (6-3, 254), a free agent from Pittsburgh who spent a short stint on the Patriots practice squad in 2003, second-year player Lawrence Flugence (6-1, 239), and rookie free agents Eric Alexander (6-2, 223) of Louisiana State, Quinn Dorsey (6-4, 270) of Oregon and Grant Steen (6-2, 242) out of Iowa.

With experience, depth and flexibility, the Patriots enter the season set at linebacker. The core of Bruschi, Phifer, McGinest and Vrabel will again make the group a strength of the defense. The return of Colvin and the decision on where to play Klecko – which will both presumably take place during the preseason – could ultimately answer some of the team's few lingering questions at the position. A battle will ensue during training camp for the final one or two spots at the position, which could be decided by age and the ability to play special teams.

7/23/04 Patriots feel Super with 'extra ingredient' Dillon

The defending champion New England Patriots could look to be almost unstoppable after adding three-time Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon as they open the NFL season on a 15-game winning streak and try to win their third Super Bowl in four years. Then again, looks are deceiving in the parity-driven NFL, where the poor grow rich overnight and the mighty can tumble.

New England knows both scenarios. The Patriots went from last to first in the AFC East in winning their first Super Bowl in 2001, missed the playoffs the following season at 9-7, then reasserted themselves last year.

Memories of their crash should help the Patriots avoid another fall as much as the coaching acumen of Bill Belichick, two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Tom Brady and a defense that permitted a league-low 238 points. Even a potentially disruptive scenario has been avoided with cornerback Ty Law, displeased about his contract situation, ready to go to work.

"In some ways, you can get fat and happy," Brady said. "But I think that's really the lesson we learned. Not that we didn't think we were working hard a couple of years ago, but I think we realize how much harder we're going to have to work."

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi says: "I think we can look at that experience and say that we sort of know what it's like now because I think there was not a man on that (2002) team who had ever defended a Super Bowl championship. Now there's a bunch of us on the team, and I think that experience will help."

Winning streaks
Statistics differentiate between the regular season and the playoffs. So the New England Patriots officially kick off their schedule with a 12-game winning streak when they host the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 9, leaving them much to do to reach the record.
Team Years Streak
Chicago Bears 1933-34 17
Chicago Bears 1941-42 16
Miami Dolphins 1971-73 16
Miami Dolphins 1983-84 16
L.A.-S.D. Chargers 1960-61 15
San Francisco 49ers 1989-90 15
Source: Elias Sports Bureau
New England season
The Patriots' regular-season schedule
Opponent (record) Date
*Indianapolis (12-4) Sept. 9
At Arizona (4-12) Sept. 19
At Buffalo (6-10) Oct. 3
Miami (10-6) Oct. 10
*Seattle (10-6) Oct. 17
N.Y. Jets (6-10) Oct. 24
At Pittsburgh (6-10) Oct. 31
*At St. Louis (12-4) Nov. 7
Buffalo (6-10) Nov. 14
*At Kansas City (13-3) Nov. 22
*Baltimore (10-6) Nov. 28
At Cleveland (5-11) Dec. 5
Cincinnati (8-8) Dec. 12
At Miami (10-6) Dec. 20
At N.Y. Jets (6-10) Dec. 26
San Francisco (7-9) Jan. 2, 2005
* 2003 playoff teams

The Denver Broncos of quarterback John Elway and running back Terrell Davis were the last to win consecutive championships, in 1998 and 1999. The Dallas Cowboys, powered by quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and wideout Michael Irvin, were the last to win three times in a four-year span, from 1993-96.

That New England has the opportunity to do something extraordinary is not lost on the veterans who report to Gillette Stadium on July 29 for training camp. San Francisco, Dallas, Denver and New England are the only franchises with multiple Super Bowl titles the past 15 years.

Aikman cites the league's remarkable balance in explaining why he believes the Patriots can surpass his Cowboys in excellence.

"If they go on to win three of four, to me it would be a more significant accomplishment because they would be in more dogfights than we were in," Aikman says. "We could go out and not play great and still win. If you don't go out and play well in today's NFL, you will not win a lot of games."

Game-by-game-by-game

Bruschi contemplates the history that can be made and says, "It would be incredible. It's just not done any more. You think of the great teams in previous decades — the Niners, the Cowboys, the Steelers. ... We hope to be one of those teams. How do you have that? You have to win the Super Bowl. And our formula ...is taking it game by game."

That's the game-by-game focus ingrained by Belichick, who was already at work while vacationing on Cape Cod.

"Whether we won 15 in a row or didn't win 15 in a row," he says, "nobody cares about that now, certainly not Indianapolis."

The reference is to the regular-season opener. The Patriots, who picked off Peyton Manning four times in bouncing the Colts 24-14 in the AFC Championship game in January, host them Sept. 9, a Thursday night, to kick off the season.

Still, Belichick knows the Patriots are 40-14 over the past three seasons and addressed their only major weakness, at running back, by acquiring Dillon from Cincinnati for a second-round draft choice.

"I'm respectful of it," Belichick says of the team's recent history, "but I don't want to dwell on it."

History is filled with powers that toppled for reasons other than talent.

"Before you've had success, it's easier to put the team first," says Aikman, now a Fox analyst. "As you have success, individuals want more of the credit. Just look at the Los Angeles Lakers."

Will Dillon be worth the gamble?

Aikman is convinced the Cowboys' plunge could have been averted.

"The demise of our team had nothing to do with lack of talent," he says. "As an organization, we lost sight of what it took for certain achievements. I don't think we worked as hard on the back end as we did to get there. As an organization, you get complacent."

Not New England. Executive of the year Scott Pioli and coach of the year Belichick moved aggressively to land Dillon before the draft, allowing them to seek to bolster other areas with rookies.

Dillon represents a gamble. At his best, he is a Cadillac among running backs. He rushed for 8,061 yards and 45 touchdowns in seven seasons for Cincinnati. He averaged 1,253 yards his first six years before injuries to his groin and hip contributed to a career-low 541 rushing yards and two touchdowns last season.

At his worst, the 6-1, 225-pounder has potential to be disruptive. He once said he "would rather flip burgers" than play for the losing Bengals, only to sign a one-year, $3 million deal. He never appeared to be swept up in the enthusiasm new coach Marvin Lewis brought to the Bengals in elevating them to 8-8 last year.

After a season-ending loss to Cleveland, Dillon flipped his helmet, cleats and shoulder pads into the stands at Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium and emptied his locker the next day. With Rudi Johnson ready to replace him for the Bengals, Dillon was widely shopped before the deal was struck — on Patriots Day — for the 56th overall draft choice.

Dillon, who was never part of a winning team in Cincinnati, met with New England's management before the transaction was completed. He convinced them he will embrace the team concept they insist on and backed it up by agreeing to restructure the final two years of his contract to create salary-cap room.

In exchange, he was given incentives that include $100,000 for 700 rushing yards, $375,000 for 1,000 yards and $500,000 for 1,600 yards. His career high: 1,435 yards, in 2000.

That sacrifice persuaded owner Robert Kraft that the possible huge reward justified the risk.

"The fact that a player of that caliber was willing to come to the team and adjust his salary and have a chance to make it on incentives, that seems like a team kind of guy to me," Kraft says.

Dillon worked hard and said the right things at June minicamp. He said he was "an extra ingredient in this pie" and added, "These guys have been there and done that. I just want to go out there and help them get another one."

Brady is excited about the possibilities for a running game that ranked 27th among 32 teams.

"I think Corey expects to have a great year," Brady says. "Judging from what he's done in minicamps, hopefully it looks as good in the fall as it has the last couple of months."

Team chemistry the strength

Law, a key figure in the team's success because of his ability to blanket the finest receivers in man-to-man coverage, also appears back in the fold after a tumultuous offseason.

Displeased that he had not received a contract extension, he accused Belichick of being a liar and hinted he might boycott training camp by saying, "We all gotta eat." But a well-fed Law was suddenly back after meeting with his coach and participating in minicamp.

"We're world champs," Law said then, "so you can't be upset or mad too long."

New England's greatest strength under Belichick has been its team chemistry.

"They are really the blueprint of a team," New York Jets coach Herman Edwards says. "They get all of their players to understand what they need to do to be successful, and that's why they are successful."

It is almost unthinkable that New England will be faced with as much adversity as last season, when injuries cost starters 103 games and Brady fought through a shoulder problem that required offseason surgery. Sidelined starters included a prized free agent, linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, due back from a broken hip.

"That team was truly a team," Belichick says. "They had a lot of respect and feeling for each other. They performed very unselfishly. We won 15 games in a row and really, no players stepped up and tried to take credit for it. I thought that was a great thing."

Can that esprit de corps be re-created?

"Every year is different. I don't think you can orchestrate chemistry," Belichick says. "You can't tell people what their relationships are going to be or how they are going to feel about each other."

Former Denver tight end Shannon Sharpe, who retired to join CBS as a commentator, likes New England's prospects for repeating.

"They have the best chance to do it since we did it," he says. "They have their offensive (Charlie Weis) and defensive (Romeo Crennel) coordinators back, and they've got Tom Brady.

"Right now, you'd be hard-pressed to show me a quarterback better than Tom Brady. All he does is win. All he does is win Super Bowls."

Kraft is not holding out yet another Super Bowl triumph as a benchmark for success. He is intent on avoiding the finish of 2002 and advancing to the postseason and a shot at winning it all.

"I'll be really down," the owner says, "if we don't make the playoffs."

Contributing: David Leon Moore

Patriots ready to defend

By Glen Farley, Enterprise staff writer

FOXBORO — Members of the New England Patriots say they're ready to ring in a new year.

"It's time to rest this (the 2003 championship)," veteran tight end Christian Fauria said, "and start working on getting another one."

That work officially begins Thursday when members of the defending Super Bowl champions report to Gillette Stadium for the start of their second training camp at the state-of-the-art facility they have called their home since 2002.

"It's one brick at a time," said place-kicker Adam Vinatieri, whose right foot put championship rings on the Patriots' hands in 2001 and 2003. "We've got a long ways to go before the house is built."

Perhaps, but the foundation is still standing.

"I think the older group of guys that we have know how to work," said quarterback Tom Brady, who is entering his fifth year in New England. "The veterans come in and we want to get stuff done. The older guys have to show how to do it and how to win games."

The holdovers from last year's team are responsible for a 15-game winning skein the Patriots will carry into their Sept. 9 regular-season opener with the Indianapolis Colts in a rematch of the 2003 AFC Championship Game at Gillette. That streak, the two rings and a cumulative record of 40-14 over the past three years could all be pretty heady stuff for the sons of Bill Belichick.

"Believe me, Bill knows how to keep our heads on straight and what to focus on," ninth—year veteran linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, downplaying the potential for a post-Super Bowl letdown, "and our focus is on Sept. 9."

If nothing else, a number of these Patriots have past experience to fall back on: Thirty-seven of them were members of the 2002 squad that followed a Super Bowl XXXVI campaign by failing to qualify for the playoffs as Belichick's team took a step back before stepping back up last year.

"Any time you have success, I think there's a tendency to be satisfied," said safety Rodney Harrison, who joined the Patriots last year following his release after nine seasons in San Diego. "I think the guys learned from the previous Super Bowl not to be content."

"It's a process of laying brick by brick on the foundation and making sure you have a solid foundation going into the season, then being able to play well and execute in competitive situations during the year," Belichick summarized. "We executed to a 9-7 level in 2002. What our level will be this year, I don't think anybody knows and it would be hard to predict. You have to go through the same process to get to that point and then you have to play well when you have your opportunity in the regular season. I don't see the process changing too much."

The cast of characters hasn't changed a whole lot since the Patriots closed the 2003 season with a 32-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Granted, the starting defensive and offensive lines have taken weighty hits. Nose tackle Ted Washington and defensive end Bobby Hamilton both relocated to Oakland and guard-center Damien Woody took the free-agent route to Detroit.

Antowain Smith, a running back, who just signed with Tennessee, was serviceable enough to help carry the team to its two titles, but was released. However, there is still a large carryover from the starting lineup that Belichick put on the field last season.

In fact, with former Cincinnati Bengals problem child Corey Dillon acquired via a trade on, of all days, Patriots Day, it would appear there has been a major upgrade in that department. If that's one step up, the punting game (former Pittsburgh Steelers Josh Miller is in; frequent shanker Ken Walter is out) should be another.

The team has added youth and, it would like to think, talent, at tight end, wide receiver, the defensive line and secondary as well. Armed with two first-round picks, the Patriots tabbed Washington's successor in mammoth University of Miami defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and added another young tight end to the mix in Georgia's Benjamin Watson.

"We have to defend our title," defensive end Jarvis Green said, "and we have the potential to do bigger things."

But along with that potential comes the bull's-eye they wear on their backs, the product of a past that includes 12 straight regular-season victories, five shy of the all-time NFL record of 17 set by the 1933-34 Chicago Bears.

"It's a 'What have you done for me lately?' business, as it should be," said inside linebacker Ted Johnson. "People are going to be gunning for us."

"Expectations are always high for this football team," said Richard Seymour, at the age of 25 already a two-time Pro Bowl selection in the Patriots' defensive line. "I think we set the standard for what we want to be. Anything less than that is unacceptable."

"It's all about eliminating bad football and playing well and playing smart," said Vinatieri. "Obviously, teams are going to give you their best effort when you're the defending champions. We know that. We know we have to play well."

Falling short of that, the 2004 Patriots risk developing into the second coming of the 2002 Pats, becoming just another in the cluster of NFL non-playoff teams.

"We went through that in '01 and it wasn't a good feeling not making the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl," outside linebacker Roman Phifer said. "We're aware of that and more in tune with not letting that happen again. Everyone's trying to keep a tight focus and Coach Belichick has emphasized that."

"Hopefully, it will be a long ride," said four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law, who after an offseason of discontent over his contract status, appears to be a happy camper once again, "and it can end up like last year."

Colvin main question
By Michael Felger/ Linebackers
Monday, July 26, 2004

 

Sixth in a series of positional breakdowns as the Pats head into training camp on Thursday.
 

     There is only one training camp question mark when it comes to the Patriots [stats, news] linebackers. And it resides squarely on the metal plate that's been surgically implanted on the broken hip of Rosevelt Colvin.
 

     Training camp will constitute a huge hurdle for the prize 2003 free agent, who suffered a Bo Jackson-type injury lunging for a fumble in Philadelphia in Week 2 last season. Colvin's progress has been steady since then, and at the Pats' June minicamp he appeared to run well in helmet and shorts. However, Colvin didn't practice in team drills and had not been cleared for contact.
 

     According to a source, Colvin's recent medical evaluations have been excellent. The source said Colvin currently has ``no limitations.''
 

     Of course, medical information on the Pats is always sketchy. But if Colvin is in pads when the Pats take the field for their first practice on Thursday, then there's every reason to believe he'll be in uniform on opening day. If not, it's a waiting game.
 

     Colvin has modeled his recovery after Jacksonville safety Deon Grant, who suffered a similar injury as a rookie with Carolina in 2000 and was back in pads exactly one year later. The key difference is that Grant suffered his injury in late July, which gave him the time to work out the kinks during training camp the next year. If the Pats are using the one-year time frame, then that will put Colvin's first padded practice in September. There have been rumors this offseason that Colvin is headed to the physically unable to perform list, which would make him eligible to return to the field after Week 6 of the regular season.
 

     Bill Belichick [news] said at the owners' meetings in March that he expected Colvin to be ready for the regular season. Whether he meant the start of the season remains to be seen.
 

     Meanwhile, the rest of the linebacking corps this camp will exemplify what Belichick values most at the position: experience and intelligence. Belichick has drafted just three linebackers in his four years with the Pats, all of whom came in the seventh round. Two of those players (Casey Tisdale in 2000 and T.J. Turner in 2001) were cut in training camp. The third, 23-year-old Tully Banta-Cain (drafted in 2003) goes into this year as the only linebacker under the age of 26 with a chance to make the roster.
 

     The rest of the position is made up of savvy, productive veterans, players who know Belichick's defense and the AFC offenses like the back of their hands. Those players allow Belichick and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel to produce complicated game plans every week knowing their players can handle it.
 

     Belichick has often said that outside linebacker Mike Vrabel [news] is the smartest player he's ever coached, which is considerable praise given Belichick's 30 years on NFL sidelines. And Vrabel, who turns 29 in August, is one of the younger guys. Vrabel's career has taken off since joining the Pats in 2001, and he'll continue to play a key role on the pass rush and on the edge in 2004.
 

     Willie McGinest [news], who is all of a sudden an elder statesman, possesses many of the same qualities that Vrabel does. Ageless wonder Roman Phifer is back for a 14th NFL season, and he'll remain in a rotation on the inside with the athletic and instinctive Tedy Bruschi [news] and the powerful Ted Johnson [news]. Bruschi is a player who keeps getting better with age, and the Pats coaches felt he should have been in the Pro Bowl last year. Perhaps this is the year.
 

     Matt Chatham is an underrated up-and-comer. He's a stalwart on special teams and a trusted backup on the outside. Special teams captain Larry Izzo doesn't get much time with the regular defense, but whenever he does, he seems to play well.
 

     Next: The secondary.

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Colvin main question

Linebackers a veteran crew

MICHAEL PARENTE , Sports Writer 07/28/2004

 

FOXBORO -- Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the New England Patriots will emerge from training camp as one of several front-runners to win Super Bowl XXXVIX in February.

Can anyone stop the defending champions from making it three titles in four years? Perhaps Father Time will play a role in shaping the outcome of this upcoming season.

The Patriots don’t have many holes, but they have aging players at some positions and it could come back to haunt them.

Five of the 16 linebackers who will report to camp are older than 30, and while that may not seem like much, keep in mind that three of them are potential starters.

Tedy Bruschi, who started all 16 games at inside linebacker last year, turned 31 in June. His backup, Ted Johnson, is also 31, while Roman Phifer -- the other starter on the inside -- turned 36 on March 5.

And if Rosevelt Colvin does not start the season on time, as expected, due to his recovery from hip surgery, that could force veteran Willie McGinest back into the lineup at outside linebacker.

McGinest, who made 11 starts at that position a year ago, will turn 33 in December. So the youngest linebacker in the potential opening-day starting lineup could be 28-year-old Mike Vrabel.

Good news or bad news? That depends on your outlook. That same foursome led one of the most feared defensive units in the NFL last year and their veteran leadership on and off the field was exceptional. Bruschi is one of the most vocal players in the locker room and Phifer’s tireless effort in the weight room serves as a fine example to players of all ages.

The question is: How much longer can they produce at this level? Bruschi was durable last year, but he played through pain. He suffered an arm injury in September that never forced him to miss any time and then played through a strained right calf in Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina. Over the last three seasons, he’s missed only six games due to injury, but has been hurt each year.

Johnson only played in eight games last year because he broke his foot late in the season. He’s missed 26 games since 1999. McGinest, another injury-prone player, managed to stay healthy in 2004, missing only two games, but given his track record, it’s not blasphemous to question whether or not he’ll stay that way this season. The 11-year veteran went through a stretch from 1997-2001 in which he only played one full season, and that was when he was younger.

The other player to look out for is Phifer. His performance last year was tremendous. For a player his age to record over 100 tackles and play each week is a testament to how hard he works to stay in shape. He’s only missed two games in five years, but his age is a concern.

Can he keep it going this late in his career? Considering his strict workout regimen throughout the year, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that Phifer will stay healthy in 2004, but if he shows any signs of slowing down at age 36, the Patriots could have problems. Perhaps that’s why they’ve switched former defensive tackle Dan Klecko to linebacker.

Lawrence Flugence, Grant Steen, Quinn Dorsey, Justin Kurpeikis and Eric Alexander will compete for spots on the practice squad.

Several things need to happen for the linebackers to succeed again this season. For starters, they need to get Colvin back relatively early and they need him to be the same player he was in Chicago.

Coming back from a broken hip is difficult, but Colvin is only 26, so he has a better chance of bouncing back than perhaps an older player would, but there is a concern that he may never again have the explosive speed that made him such a hot commodity when the Patriots were scouting him during the 2003 offseason.

That’s why Vrabel’s performance will be so crucial. Colvin could miss the first few weeks, and perhaps wind up on the physically unable to perform list for the first six games. Vrabel needs to produce like he did last season - 52 tackles, four forced fumbles and two interceptions.

The Patriots have younger options at linebacker, including 23-year-old Tully Banta-Cain, who impressed in limited action last season, and Matt Chatham, a special teams’ standout who filled in nicely for Colvin early in October. The veterans, however, are the core of this group, and as long as they stay healthy, there is no reason to believe they can’t be as dominant as they were in 2003.

The problem is determining how realistic that scenario is. For whatever reason, the Patriots did not draft a linebacker in April, which was odd considering their plan to get younger on defense. Perhaps that shows how confident they are in their current group.

Whether or not that was a smart move will be determined once the season gets underway.

Overall grade: B-

A veteran group that will dominate as long as it doesn’t start acting its age. If the defensive line doesn’t hold up, they will be counted on even more than they were last year. The addition of Klecko in the middle should add some energy.

This Week's Notes and Quotes: 08/01/04

 

Sunday Morning Camp Notes

Tedy Bruschi was the star of a blocking drill that faced the linebackers off against the running backs. The popular linebacker ran through, around and over foes Fred McCrary, Michael Cloud, Patrick Pass and Malaefou Mackenzie.

Official Website of the New England Patriots - 8/2/04 8:08:14 AM

 

 

Belichick's 7/30 Press Conference

Q: You have a lot of players that are able to help Tully make the switch from defensive lineman to linebacker. With Dan Klecko, it seems to be a unique switch. Do you have anyone who could help him make that switch?
 

BB: [Tedy] Bruschi.
 

Q: Playing inside?
 

BB: Yes, Bruschi played down similar to Klecko. Bruschi played inside, he played defensive tackle, three-technique, at Arizona. He led the Pac-10 and led the NCAA in sacks and all of that. That transition for him is similar to what [Dan is doing]. Now Dan played primarily defensive tackle though he did play some end a little bit at Temple but primarily he played defensive tackle, three-technique, one-technique, he played in there on the guard and so forth. It is pretty similar to what Bruschi did.

Official Website of the New England Patriots - 8/2/04 8:17:48 AM

 

Dan Klecko's New Role

"It's like being a rook all over," said Klecko, a second-year player from Temple. "I think I could work on everything. There's not a thing I could say, `Well, I got that down,' at linebacker." But he's coming along thanks to tutelage from Tedy Bruschi, who made a similar transition. At Arizona, Bruschi played defensive line -- as Klecko did at Temple -- and tied the NCAA record for career sacks. When he's having a rough patch, Klecko is buoyed by Bruschi letting him know he experienced the same pitfalls converting to linebacker after playing tackle in college.

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Klecko still trying to fit in

Klecko is lucky because he has an ideal role model to follow in Tedy Bruschi [news]. Bruschi came out of college having spent four years as a defensive lineman (both end and tackle), but when then-coach Bill Parcells and then-assistant Bill Belichick [news] got a hold of him in 1996, they began tinkering.
 

     Bruschi evolved over the next four years, going from pass-rushing end to weak-side linebacker to middle linebacker. Now Bruschi is one of the top players at his position in the NFL. But remember, it took him four or five years before he became truly comfortable (and productive) playing on his feet. And it took him a few more years after that to take his game to the next level.
 

     Klecko said Bruschi has given him plenty of pointers along the way.
 

     ``I really consider him one of the great middle linebackers,'' Klecko said. ``So for him to come up to me and say, `I went through that exact same thing,' that really helps.''

    BostonHerald.com - Patriots: To stay on field, Klecko takes it inside

 

Bruschi's just happy to be here
By Michael Felger

Thursday, August 5, 2004

FOXBORO - Want to know why Tedy Bruschi [news] is one of the most popular Patriots [stats, news] players of all time? Want to know why fans line up to get a glimpse of the veteran linebacker? Why he draws the biggest cheers at training camp? Why his No. 54 has been a consistent best-seller in the team's pro shop?
 

     Just listen to him talk about why he signed a contract extension with the Patriots this spring, giving up the opportunity to make a bigger killing as a free agent after the season.
 

     ``How much is enough?'' Bruschi said following practice yesterday at Gillette Stadium. ``How much do you need? I live in North Attleboro. I don't live glamorously. I live in a nice home and we're happy where we are. You really have to look yourself in the eye and say, `Do you want to go out there and chase every single dime?' Or do you want to stay somewhere and establish something. I chose to stay and establish something.''
 

     Bruschi was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the 2004 season. But instead of playing out the year and taking his chances, he ``settled'' for a four-year, $8.1 million contract with a $3.5 million signing bonus. To be sure, those aren't welfare wages. But when you consider that the franchise number (the average of the top 10 highest paid players at the position) for NFL linebackers is more than $4 million per year, Bruschi certainly didn't break the bank.
 

     Bruschi is considered by many to be a top 10 linebacker, and if he's not, he's definitely close. By anyone's estimation, a deal averaging $2 million a season was on the low end.
 

     Bruschi doesn't employ an agent and handles negotiations himself.
 

     ``I'll tell you this,'' he said. ``If I had an agent I wouldn't be here. Agents tell you, `I can get you more.' But after they say that, it's always, `But it's going to have to be somewhere else.' And then the player has to make that decision. And I didn't need to make that decision.''
 

     Some of Bruschi's teammates were said to be perplexed that he would settle for a below-market deal, thereby strengthening the internal salary cap on the Pats.
 

     ``I've only received countless congratulations from my teammates,'' Bruschi said. ``To play out the year and be a free agent, it's a lot of speculation. I don't want to live by `What ifs?' What if something happens the first month of the season? The AFC Championship Game, when I hurt my calf. Remember? You never know what's going to happen. The Patriots came to me good-heartedly and said, `Let's get something done to keep you here,' and I said, `Let's do it.' ''
 

     Anyone who saw Bruschi playing on the field with his two young sons, Tedy Jr. and Rex, Tuesday night knows how important family is to him. And in the Pats, he has a good match. The players' wives and children are always around.
 

     ``Some things are just more important to me,'' Bruschi said. ``It's been said that if I was a free agent I could have gone out there and made more money, but that's just not important to me. What's important to me is the friendships I have on the team. The fans I've been around for nine years now.''
 

     As for the fans, the bond with Bruschi remains incredibly strong.
 

     ``I relate to them,'' he said. ``They are my kind of people. Just blue-collar, hard-working people that just work hard and love their families and do the best they can to get the job done. That's the way I would describe the people in the stands - and that's how I would describe myself.
 

     ``I'll tell you something that would just kill me,'' Bruschi added. ``To go to another team and then come play a game here and see all those people wearing No. 54 jerseys in the stands. That's something I couldn't take.''

Extra conditioning works for defense

Lots of 'gassers' now mean strength and energy later

FOXBOROUGH -- Among the nearly 85,000 fans who have attended Patriots training camp, some probably have noticed defensive players running -- voluntarily -- back and forth across the adjacent practice field during the team segment of the workouts. They aren't doing so as punishment, but rather punishing their bodies in preparation for those key moments during the season when they need to dig deep for something extra.

"It's conditioning," said Rodney Harrison, who, along with Tedy Bruschi, Roman Phifer, and the originator of the idea, Ty Law, ran 10 to 12 "gassers" between plays yesterday. In Harrison's 10th year last season, he never seemed to run out of gas. Not only was he fueled by what he thought was mistreatment from the San Diego Chargers, he says he was stronger because of the "gassers."

"Ty Law got me started doing it and it really helped me out last year," Harrison said. "Eighth week of the season, fourth quarter, I felt like I had more endurance, I felt like I was stronger. I probably was running better than I'd ever run. During the fourth quarter, you feel like you have more energy."

More players are adopting the routine and Bruschi has added crunches to it. "It's contagious," Harrison said. "Everybody's doing it now. It's just working hard, paying the price. You figure everyone else is standing around doing nothing, you can get in a little extra stretching, a few sit-ups, some push-ups."

Harrison is also taking steps to make sure his teammates who play on the other side of the ball are as prepared as possible; in practice, at the end of a run or completion, he catches up with the ballcarrier and attempts to poke the ball out from behind. He did it at least twice yesterday, the first time forcing Corey Dillon to fumble. Harrison says he does so to make certain it doesn't happen in a game.

"It irritates them to death when I come up there and do it, but what it does is -- like I tell Corey, because I think he was getting a little agitated, but he's laughing about it now -- I do it to make sure our runners secure the ball," Harrison said. "And it works on me going to get the ball out. So now every time those guys catch the ball and they're running, they're aware. Because that's a turnover. I do it all day. I don't care if the play is 40 yards away, I run all the way to the ball and try to poke it out."

This week's Notes and Quotes: 8/15/04

NFL Features

Part 1: Answering the burning questions

Cris Collinsworth

Aug. 16, 2004) -- There are plenty of questions as we head into the regular season and I would like to answer 10 of the most burning as we look toward Kickoff Weekend 2004, beginning with the first five.

1. Are the Patriots, once again, the team to beat in 2004?

The Patriots are the team to beat, without question. They did such a great job of upgrading their already-potent team during the offseason with the drafting of Vince Wilfork from Miami and acquiring Corey Dillon from Cincinnati. If Dillon is what he was his first couple of years -- a running back with a chip on his shoulder -- he should provide a power running game with big-play capability.

The Patriots won two of the past three Super Bowls with an average running game, reminding me of the old days when the 49ers used the pass to set up the run. But if Dillon is healthy and focused, this team has a chance to be amazing. It's going to be hard to stop them.

What's also surprising is that the Patriots retained both of their coordinators. This is one of the first Super Bowl teams that I can remember that didn't lose a coordinator. It just doesn't happen.

The record-setting defense is really good with star players at every level. Ty Law in the secondary and Richard Seymour on the defensive line are terrific, but the group that gets very little credit is the linebackers. Roman Phifer, Mike Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi jump out at me every time I watch the film. They are just smarter than the offenses they are playing against. The Patriots defense was so dominant all year, it was surprising to see the Panthers move the ball so well against them in the Super Bowl, but they did shut down a powerful Colts offense in the AFC Championship Game. They should be just as good this year.

NFL.com - NFL News

Nice to meet you

Prior to the start of practice veteran linebacker Tedy Bruschi called the team together and introduced newly signed rookie Benjamin Watson in the center of the gathered players. After the players all waived to the rookie, Bruschi sent Watson to the sidelines in front of a set of bleachers so that the 32nd pick in April's draft could vociferously introduce himself to his new fans.

“My name is Benjamin Watson. I am a tight end from the University of Georgia.”
Official Website of the New England Patriots - 8/17/04 9:20:05 AM

Klecko a younger Bruschi?

MICHAEL PARENTE , Journal Register News Service 08/18/2004

 FOXBORO -- Every now and then, Tedy Bruschi watches Dan Klecko trying to make the transition from defensive tackle to linebacker and sees a younger version of himself.

"I see Klecko making the same mistakes I was making at that point in my career," said Bruschi, who played defensive end at the University of Arizona before becoming a linebacker with the Patriots.

"It’s really eerie. I look at him and say, ‘Wow. I used to do that, too.’"

The idea is to turn Klecko into the type of player Bruschi is today, which would reaffirm the theory that college defensive linemen are better suited to play linebacker in Bill Belichick’s system.

Bruschi isn’t the only one who’s made the transition -- Mike Vrabel did it after compiling an All-American career as a defensive end at Ohio State. Eight years later, he’s one of the most dependable linebackers on the roster. The Patriots are now taking Klecko and Tully Banta-Cain, a three-year starter at defensive end for California, and asking them to do the same thing.

Just because Bruschi and Vrabel have done it doesn’t mean the Klecko and Banta-Cain experiment will be successful. Belichick said a defensive lineman who tries to become a linebacker is actually at a disadvantage.

"Guys that have played exclusively with their hand on the ground have to make a big adjustment when they stand up and play on their feet," Belichick said. "You play further away and have more people that have angles to block you as opposed to when you are on the ground, where it is only one or two guys that can really get to you."

With that in mind, what makes him so confident he can keep converting linemen to linebackers?

"Where else are you going to get (linebackers)? That is what they play in college," he said. "You look at guys in college that are 6-foot-3 or 6-foot-4, and 250 to 255 pounds, and they are playing down (on the line). They are not playing on their feet. It would be great if they were, but where are they?"

What it boils down to is that Klecko and Banta-Cain are too small to play up front in the NFL, but have the size and speed to make it as linebackers. Klecko is 5-foot-11 and 275 pounds while Banta-Cain weighs 250 pounds and stands at 6-foot-2. By comparison, Bruschi is 6-foot-1 and 247 pounds while Vrabel is 261 and 6-foot-4, so it’s obvious that Klecko and Banta-Cain fit the mold.

Because of their size, they have the "linebacker-type athleticism" that Belichick looks for, in addition to the intelligence to learn new coverages and the versatility to play on special teams. He also said that defensive linemen who zone blitz in college - in other words, occasionally drop back in coverage - are more capable of making the switch because they have experience playing on their feet.

Banta-Cain and Klecko have done all of that, but Banta-Cain is further ahead at this point because he was actually recruited by California to play linebacker. After his freshman year, they switched him to defense end. The Patriots saw his potential at linebacker and selected him in the seventh round of the 2003 draft. Now that he’s back to his old position, he feels more comfortable.

"I always felt like if I was going to make it in the NFL, I would convert back to linebacker, just because of my size," Banta-Cain said. "I’m where I need to be right now. I think I’m in the right place to be, considering the linebackers that have made the same transition I’m trying to make. I’ve learned a lot from those guys."

Klecko, who got his first taste at linebacker last Friday in the team’s exhibition opener against Philadelphia, said he’s still got a lot to learn.

"I don’t have the full understanding. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not standing here saying, ‘Me and Ted Johnson are on the same wavelength of knowledge at linebacker,’ but I do have a little more of a grasp on it now," he said. "It’s really starting to come together for me, but there are a lot of things I wish I could take back.

"I’ve just got to get used to seeing things quick and just hitting things a little faster. I need to get those little things down and concentrate on the game. I’ve got to get used to using my speed as a linebacker, because everything is new to me. I was a little nervous, a little tentative maybe, and I need to just work on it and get better."

How this experiment turns out is important because Klecko and Banta-Cain represent a small piece of the team’s future at linebacker. Neither will start in 2004, but the players who will aren’t bulletproof. Roman Phifer is 36, and Bruschi and Johnson have been injury-prone in the past. All it takes is an ankle sprain or a muscle pull before we see one of these two in a big spot.

Should that happen, the Patriots will need Klecko and Banta-Cain to play like veterans sooner rather than later. The mistakes are acceptable now, but in three weeks, they’ll be expected to produce.

"You are in the dirt your entire life, then they ask you to go five yards off the ball. That’s tough," Bruschi said. "It’s not an easy transition because you see the game from one perspective your entire life, then you change, but as I tell these guys, it will come with time."

The Herald News

Klecko shifts gears: Leans on Bruschi for move to linebacker
By Kevin Mannix
Wednesday, August 18, 2004

 

FOXBORO - Patriots [stats, news] linebacker Dan Klecko [news] was finished with yesterday's practice. Then he wrapped up his one-on-one post-practice tackling drills with Tyler and Carter Vrabel, Mike's two young sons. Then came a brief interview period.
 

     As he finally started down the stairs from the field to the locker room, he stopped when he saw Tedy Bruschi [news] was still answering questions back on the field.
 

     ``C'mon Bru,'' he said. He obviously had questions of his own for his fellow inside linebacker and former defensive lineman.
 

     Smart young man, that Klecko kid. If anybody can relate to his transition to linebacker, it's Bruschi. Who better to sound out about the adjustments that he's being asked to make?
 

     When he was a rookie and second-year player back in 1996 and 1997, Bruschi also had to make the move from defensive lineman to linebacker. He knows the trials Klecko is facing from experience, and he knows how to deal with them.
 

     ``You've been in the dirt your whole life (playing on the line),'' said Bruschi, who left the University of Arizona tied for the NCAA Division 1 career sacks record with 52. ``Then they ask you to go 5 yards off the ball. The other night (against Philadelphia) I saw Kleck making the same mistakes I made at that point in my career. Actually it was sort of eerie watching him out there. It was like, `Wooooo! I remember doing that too.'
 

     ``You're used to seeing the game a certain way and now it's all different. It's a huge transition, one that will take a lot of time. When I came here, they weren't sure where to play me and I went from the line to outside linebacker, then to the inside.
 

     ``Even that time on the outside didn't help me at first. I still didn't know what I was doing.''
 

     There were times last weekend that Klecko was quite obviously sitting in that same sinking boat. He'd be a step late on this play. He's miss coverage on the next one. He did finish with four tackles, but given the number of snaps he took, that wasn't a lot.
 

     Still, the second-year player was thinking good thoughts.
 

     ``Things went well,'' said Klecko, a fourth-round pick out of Temple. ``There are a lot of little things to focus on. That's what I have to concentrate on for the game against the Bengals (Saturday night). I was a little nervous and tentative at first and a couple of their (completions) were my fault. But I started seeing things a little better at the end.
 

     ``There were a lot of things that could have been better, but I don't think I have to change anything. I have to get used to seeing things and working on the little things. Everything happens really quick out there.''
 

     Fortunately, quickness is the hallmark of Klecko's game. He doesn't have great size or straight-line speed, but he's quick off the ball and he understands the game.
 

     Those, according to Bruschi, are major attributes for any defensive lineman-turned-linebacker.
 

     ``Reading and reacting to what's going on is the most difficult adjustment,'' the veteran linebacker said. ``You need a head on your shoulders. He has that. It's just going to take time. I keep telling him to keep working like he is and things will fall in place. It will come with time.
 

     ``Impatience will be part of it. Frustration is going to be there, too. It's all part of it. I was so frustrated at first that I didn't know what I was looking at.
 

     ``Then I'd see things again and again and I'd start to get it. That's the way it will happen for Kleck. He's doing things the right way. He's getting plenty of work and he's learning from what's happening.

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Klecko shifts gears: Leans on Bruschi for move to linebacker

This week's Notes and Quotes: 8/25/04

On 31-3 Bengals loss:

Tough duty The Patriots are using this week to get into a regular-season practice schedule. It's an important week, considering how badly they performed in a 31-3 loss at Cincinnati Saturday night. The team practiced in full pads yesterday, and most players expected the rigorous session. "I hope we have a tougher week of practice," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We've got work to do, bottom line." . . .

"I feel the want to get back out there, right away to get back out there after a game like that," New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, "to get the pads on and get practicing, because, it's obvious, you watch the film and there are some points on the film we have to get better at."

"It felt the same as it did after every time you get your lunch handed to you," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "People tend to forget, but we've had times before where we had bad days like that. It's not the first time, and it's probably not the last."

Bruschi hungry to start hitting: Pats rev it up after Cincy loss
Tedy Bruschi (Staff photo by Ted Fitzgerald)

By Michael Felger / Boston Herald
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

FOXBORO -- Whenever Tedy Bruschi hears coach Bill Belichick talking about getting back to "basics" and "fundamentals," he knows that means only one thing.
 

     "We're going to hit," Bruschi said.
 

     And so it was yesterday, as Bruschi and his teammates geared up for a full-pad, full-contact practice at Gillette Stadium. The players donned their equipment knowing Belichick would turn up the heat after an embarrassing 31-3 preseason loss in Cincinnati last Saturday.
 

     In fact, that performance has led to a somewhat unusual atmosphere in Foxboro for this time of year. It's not often a defending Super Bowl champion feels urgency in August, but the Pats are certainly in that neighborhood.
 

     "I feel I want to get back out there right away, to get back out there after a game like that," Bruschi said. "Because it's obvious. You watch the film and there are some points where we've got to get better. So let's suit up and go get better."
 

     One of those points was the run defense, as the Pats allowed the Bengals to rush for 155 yards. That came a week after the Pats gave up 104 yards on 21 carries to the Eagles in the preseason opener. Overall, the Pats have allowed 4.5 yards a carry in the preseason. Not good.
 

     That has led to some obvious questions on the defensive line, where newcomers such as Keith Traylor and rookies Vince Wilfork and Marquise Hill have been adjusting to the Pats' 3-4 scheme. The free agent loss of nose tackle Ted Washington has already become a talking point, but overlooked in the discussion has been the departure of veteran defensive end Bobby Hamilton (who followed Washington to Oakland).
 

     Hamilton was an underrated and consistent run stuffer for the Pats for four years. He wasn't flashy, but the players around him could rely on him holding his point and funneling the run in a certain direction. Former nose tackle Chad Eaton once said the reason he was able to have such a strong year in 2000 and earn a big free agent contract was because he played next to Hamilton.
 

     The Pats let Hamilton go, in part, because they wanted 2003 first-round pick Ty Warren to emerge as the starting left end. But while the Pats may have gotten younger with the move, it remains to be seen if they are better.
 

     Bruschi admitted the linebackers have had to adjust to the new personnel in front of them.
 

     "A little bit," he said. "Ty Warren and Truck (Traylor) are different players than Ted Washington and Bobby Hamilton. As you know, from year to year you're going to get change. So we've had two games and now we've got two more to get used to each other before (the season-opener vs.) Indy."
 

     Belichick's defense is predicated on gap control, which means it's imperative that the linebackers "fit" behind the defensive linemen. Bruschi and fellow inside linebacker Roman Phifer had grown accustomed to where Hamilton and Washington were going to be on every play. Now they have to find the same symmetry with the newcomers. So far, it's been slow going.
 

     "We got work to do. That's the bottom line," Bruschi said. "The (Bengals) were able to run for over 150 yards on us, and we haven't let that happen in a while. So what do we do? We're in pads. We're going to be working on our run drills, working on our fits. Have a physical week and try to fix the problem.
 

     "Basically, that's what fundamentals mean to me," Bruschi added. "Getting back to two-gapping and pressing guards and playing direct runs, which is what we have to work on."

MetroWest Daily News - Sports Coverage

 

Bruschi takes loss to heart


Linebacker Tedy Bruschi was itching to get back to work following Saturday's embarrassing loss in Cincinnati. (Staff photo by Keith Nordstrom)

BY MARK FARINELLA / SUN CHRONICLE STAFF

FOXBORO -- Given the opportunity, Tedy Bruschi wouldn't have been putting on the pads for practice Tuesday.

He would have preferred to be dressing for a game -- some real action, designed to wash the bitter taste of Saturday night's debacle out of his mouth.

``I feel the want to get back out there right away ... to get back out there, to get better, to get the pads on and get practicing,'' the Patriots' veteran linebacker said, ``because it's obvious when you watch the film, there are points on the film that we've got to get better on.''

Just about everyone connected with the Patriots agreed that there was very little positive to be gleaned out of Saturday's 31-3 preseason loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. It's been just a little less than a year since the Patriots felt that kind of sting after a game -- last year's 31-0, season-opening loss at Buffalo, to be exact -- and even the fact that this one doesn't register in the standings didn't mitigate the disappointment of being so thoroughly outclassed.

``What happened Saturday is what happened,'' Bruschi said. ``We've got things to work on, and we see that through the films, so that's what we've got to focus on. We're not going to focus on how long it's been since this has happened or that has happened, it's what did happen.''

The Sun Chronicle Newspaper

This week's Notes and Quotes: 08/28/04

On the meeting the Panthers :

"It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s something we’re looking forward to," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We weren’t happy with the way we played last week. We practiced hard this week and worked to improve the things that needed to be improved. This is a big test for us and we’ll be ready to respond."
 

This week's Notes and Quotes: 09/05/04

Some have even mentioned the Patriots as a team ready to put together a dominating stretch of seasons because of the presence of Belichick and Brady, plus a sound fiscal strategy.  "You'd rather have people say good things about you than bad," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, "so it's nice that they're saying good things rather than bad.  "But we realize in order to live up to those compliments, we have to do more. We still have to win a lot more games, and that's what we are trying to do."  The problem, though, is that life in the NFL is confusing - to say the least - changing so fast simply because so little separates the champion from the contenders or even the pretenders.

 Patriots still have right idea

On Klecko:

He tries to pick up tips wherever he can.   "He's really eager. He comes and asks me a lot of questions, sometimes too many," Bruschi said with a laugh. "Sometimes I just wish he'd leave me alone." But Bruschi went through the same learning process himself.  "I can relate to it," he said. "I know how difficult it is, but give him a year or two under his belt and he can be a quality player."

APP.COM - Klecko shows progress in switch to ILB

From Belichick's 9/7 press conference:

Q: Can you talk about what a guy like Tedy Bruschi means to the younger players?

BB: I think Tedy means a lot to our whole team—defense, special teams, offense, everybody. Tedy is a high-energy guy. You know he loves the game. He loves to practice. He is very enthusiastic and upbeat about whatever it is he is doing, whether it is covering punts, whether it is blitzing, whatever it happens to be. I think he sets a great example and is a good guy for any player to watch in terms of preparation, playing style, toughness, instincts, you name it. Naturally, the players that play the linebacker position spend a little more time with him. A younger guy like Dan [Klecko], if he does everything Bruschi does and does it the way Tedy does it, he will be a lot better for it. And Dan is a hard-working, conscientious kid himself, so it is a good fit.

Q: What does it mean to the organization for a player to legitimately want to remain a Patriot for life?

BB: That is great. That is what we are all hoping for, is that we can keep as many people, as many good players, as many good people, coaches, scouts, you name it, in the organization for as long as possible. There is movement in the league, and we know that there are opportunities in a timely fashion, at one point or another for everybody. Hopefully we can keep, as much as possible, our productive people intact and move forward with that. But, we know we can't do it with everybody, so that is life in the NFL. Having Tedy here, him having been here, and knowing he is going to be here for some time in the foreseeable future is good for our organization, it is good for our defense, and it is good for the head coach.

Official Website of the New England Patriots - 9/7/04 7:17:29 PM

Roseville's Bruschi glad he opted not to toe line

By Jim Jenkins -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PDT Monday, September 6, 2004

FOXBORO, Mass. - Tedy Bruschi is reasonably sure he wouldn't be entering his ninth NFL season had he remained a defensive end.

When the New England Patriots selected the former Roseville High School star in the third round of the 1996 NFL draft, Bruschi was coming off an All-America season at Arizona. There, he had been the focus of the Wildcats' "Desert Swarm" defense and tied an NCAA record with 52 career sacks.

The Patriots were impressed, but they could see something else. Unless Bruschi grew considerably, he wasn't going to fare well butting heads with the mammoth offensive linemen in the NFL.

"I realized that to stick around in this league, it would have to be as a linebacker," Bruschi said. "Once I learned how to play the position, I decided I was going to take it to the next level."

Rob Ryan, who spent four seasons as the Patriots' linebackers coach until becoming the Raiders' defensive coordinator this year, said it's easy to see why the change has suited Bruschi's strengths.

"Tedy isn't the biggest guy (6-foot-1, 247 pounds) or the fastest," Ryan said, "but he's always been a fierce, smart competitor, one of the toughest players I've coached. You never hear him complain, even though I knew that some of the time, he was playing with a sore back. He's just the kind of guy you want in the middle of your defense."

Bruschi's ball-hawking instincts have resulted in two touchdowns on interception returns in each of the last two seasons, and annually, he's at or near the top of the tackles list for one of the league's best defenses.

Bruschi has a contract for four more years and intends to complete it.

"I've been around with guys like (Patriots inside linebacker) Roman Phifer, who has been in the league 14 years, so he's a good example of someone playing this game for a long time," Bruschi said. "I've had a good career, but I don't want to pat myself on the back just yet. Hopefully, I can help this team win another Super Bowl. The talent is here."

And after Bruschi's playing career is finished? The father of two children, he's unsure where he will reside. His parents and other relatives still live in California, but he spends the offseason on the East Coast. He does know what line of work he wants to enter, however.

"I want to stay in football, be a coach somewhere," Bruschi said. "It's what I'm good at and something I enjoy. Why not stay in it as long as I can?"

Indy offense may live on the Edge: Bruschi, Pats won't forget James
By Michael Felger
Wednesday, September 8, 2004

FOXBORO - Edgerrin James is something of a forgotten man when it comes to the Colts, especially in New England, where everyone talks about Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Bill Belichick [news]'s success against both. Tedy Bruschi [news] said the condition exists because most people focus on the ``glamour.''
 

     But you can be sure that James is not forgotten inside the Pats' locker room.
 

     In particular, the Pats remember the first drive of the third quarter in last season's AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Leading comfortably, 15-0, the Pats watched as the Colts came out of the tunnel and ran down their throats. James carried seven times on the drive, gaining 32 yards. Dominic Rhodes also gained 11 yards on a single carry, and when James scored from the 2-yard line, the Pats' cozy lead had evaporated.


 

     Mysteriously, and perhaps luckily for the Pats, the Colts abandoned the run after that drive. They gave the ball to James on the first play of their next possession (a 1-yard gain) and then called all passes the rest of the quarter, resulting in two incompletions, a sack and an interception.
 

     Indianapolis never made the Pats prove they could stop James. Perhaps that will happen tomorrow night when the Colts and Pats renew acquaintances at Gillette.
 

     ``In the second half they just came out and gave it to Edge,'' Bruschi said. ``All of a sudden we were back at the 20-yard line saying, `We've got to worry about Edge now.' And that opened it up for them a little bit. So it's possible - maybe they'll come out wanting to establish Edgerrin James and the running game. It's something we've got to be ready for and we're going to focus on that a little more than we have been.''
 

     That drive notwithstanding, the Pats have had their share of success against James in recent years. In five games against the Pats since Belichick took over in 2000, James has broken the 100-yard barrier only once. He's scored only two rushing touchdowns. His rushing totals - 105 carries, 420 yards, 4-yard average - are good, but certainly not great.
 

     Still, you can make the argument that James is the key to Indianapolis' success against the Pats, even if the fans, not to mention the Colts, don't realize it.
 

     ``They want the glamour. Marcus Pollard, and Harrison and Peyton, everyone wants to see them throw it,'' Bruschi said. ``But Edgerrin sets it all up for them. Because if that threat is not there in the backfield, as a defense you can really focus on other things.''
 

     Of course, what makes the Colts so dangerous is Manning's ability to play-action fake to James and then hit Harrison down the hash marks. It's a staple play of the Colts' offense, one that helped them put up 34 points in a November loss to the Pats at the RCA Dome.
 

     ``You can't tell the guys who are supposed to stop the run to play play-action or the (Colts) will run the ball right over you,'' Belichick said. ``And you can't tell the guys that have to (watch out for) the play-action to play run, because then they'll throw it past you. They do a great job of creating a run-pass conflict for the linebackers and for the guys in the secondary. We have to read our keys and be disciplined and see it.
 

     ``At the same time, the (Colts) do a good job on the running play itself, and they hurt us with that in the third quarter last year. We have to do a better job of defending it. Those two plays tie together, and I'm sure they're sitting there saying, `If you stop one, you can't stop the other.' You just can't stop them both, and that's why they run them together and they run them together very well. That's a big challenge for us defensively.''

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

PATRIOTS BEAT: Mike Lowe

FOXBORO, Mass. - Ah, opening day, NFL style.

Do you play it straight and just look at it as Game 1 of a 16-game schedule? Or do you embrace its uniqueness?

Depends on whom you ask.

The NFL is making a big deal out of Thursday night's season-opening game between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium, a made-for-TV rematch of last year's AFC final.

The game will have all the wrappings of a mini-Super Bowl: a pregame concert including Elton John, Mary J. Blige, Destiny's Child, Toby Keith, Lenny Kravitz, the Boston Pops (and Jessica Simpson via satellite from Jacksonville, Fla.), fireworks, confetti and craziness all around.

But the players and coaches who will stand on the sidelines will try to ignore all that.

As Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said: "When it comes down to it, at 9:07 (p.m., kickoff time), you've got to go and crack some heads."

That's not to say the players aren't excited about playing on national television on opening night.

"Oh, yeah," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi, the heart, soul and face of New England's defense. "You see the stages being built and all the acts that are going to be here, the commercials on TV about NFL Kickoff.

"This kicks off the entire season. All it does for me is generate excitement. It gets me excited to play, and the bigger the audience, the more people watch, it gets you a little more excited to play."

When asked if he liked any of the acts, Bruschi said he did, "but I don't know how much I'll see them."

Probably not at all, unless he is more interested in the show than the game.

Just minutes before Bruschi spoke at his locker Tuesday morning, Coach Bill Belichick addressed the hype surrounding the opener and its festivities delivering a not-so-subtle message to his players as to where their focus should be at 8 p.m. when the music begins.

"We're not going to be part of that," he said. "We're going to play the game. Look, if the players want to watch Mary Blige sing, then I'll get them good seats in the stands and they can watch it to their heart's content.

"What we need is for people to get out there, cross the white lines and perform better than the Colts. That's what we need Thursday night."

When asked if this reminded him at all of the days and hours leading to the Super Bowl, with the hype and musical acts, center Dan Koppen smiled and said: "I don't say (Super Bowl) any more."

But the opener does have similarities to the Super Bowl.

"And you can't let it be a distraction," said Koppen, a second-year player from Boston College. "We're here for a job, and our job is to go out and play football. And that's what we've got to do."

The idea, said quarterback Tom Brady, is "to upstage any of the performers with the game."

Give the fans a show - a game - that they will long remember.

Give them something special because while it may be just a game to the teams involved, it carries much more significance.

"The NFL is trying to let everyone know that it's the start of a new year . . . and they should," Bruschi said. "The beginning of football season signifies a lot of things. Kids are going back to school, the summer's over.

"It's the start of a new year. I know it's not Jan. 1, but this is the start of a new year to me and to a lot of people in America. It sort of signifies that we're back and let's have a good time and get this thing started.

It's a super way to start the season

Solid backing

Fans worship Bruschi for his unselfish, all-out style -- and he appreciates them, too

FOXBOROUGH -- Even before he arrived here, Tedy Bruschi decided that, if left up to him, he would stay.

A native Californian, Bruschi declared New England his new home the day the Patriots made him the 86th overall selection of the 1996 draft. After eight seasons, and having recently signed an extension through 2007, there's a good chance that Bruschi, provided he continues to play at or near his current level, will achieve what has become rare in professional sports --spend a career with one organization.

"That means a lot to me," Bruschi said after a training camp workout and post-practice autograph session. "I remember vividly the day I got drafted. The first thing I said to my girlfriend, Heidi -- who's now my wife -- I said, `I'm going to play out this contract with the Patriots and keep signing back with them. They're the ones I want to finish with because they're the ones I'm going to start with.' And that's before I knew anything about New England, the area, the fans. It was just a bond, a loyalty I had."

Bruschi, who played almost everywhere along the front seven earlier in his career before settling in as an inside linebacker three years ago, has become one of the more popular players on, depending on the day, the region's most popular team. He is Mr. Patriot, Mr. "Full Tilt, Full Time" because of his whatever-it-takes style of play. He comes across as someone who sincerely appreciates the privilege of playing pro football.

He has a special connection with the fans here because, he says, he relates to them. "I think I'm just one of them out there playing football," he said. "They're just normal people out there, and I consider myself a normal guy.

"I'm so normal," said Bruschi, a saxophonist who enjoys a night at a jazz club or an evening at a fancy restaurant. He's also as devoted to his family as he is his team. "My big project this year was blowing back my backyard. I brought in some people, took out some trees, took out rocks, leveled the backyard. I wanted a yard for my kids [Tedy Jr. and Rex]. Better the lives for my kids, that's what I do when I'm not around here."

Those times when he is, Bruschi approaches every practice and every meeting with the same enthusiasm he brings into a Dolphins game in December. He is a leader and a team captain who understands how important it is for a leader to also know how to follow. Young players following his example should have few problems in their careers.

"He loves football. He loves the game," said linebackers coach Dean Pees. "He brings that kind of passion to the game when he plays it but he brings a passion to the classroom, too. Passion doesn't always necessarily mean I'm jumping up and down, I'm screaming, I'm yelling, but it means you take it very seriously, you understand it, you really try to do everything you can do to prepare yourself and make yourself a better football player. And I think that's the passion he brings to the game."  

 Rodney Harrison said Bruschi reminds him of another contemporary linebacker who personifies passion.

"His consistency, his professionalism, his heart, his commitment to the game, not once have you ever heard Tedy complain about anything or say anything bad," Harrison said. "He's like a Junior Seau. Always working, always doing the little things. Junior is Junior, and Junior's going to be in the Hall of Fame. But [Bruschi] is the same type of guy. That's what I see in him. I see Junior Seau all day when I watch Tedy Bruschi. He's very unselfish. Committed. Willing to sacrifice." If it means playing weak-side, strong-side, and middle linebacker, so be it. Special teams? Coaches don't have to ask Bruschi twice. He's the type, if a coach says, "Jump," he will reply, "How high?"

He just punches in, does his job, and punches out; one could imagine him wearing a hard hat to work if he weren't wearing a helmet. On the field Bruschi is able to wear so many hats well, Pees says, because he not only understands his responsibilities as the team's "Mike" (middle) linebacker, but those of the other 10 positions.

"I've worked with a lot of linebackers who were very intelligent at their position, but I don't know if I've worked with anybody that's as intelligent about the whole defense," Pees said. "He knows what everybody's doing, and that makes him special. I haven't seen or been around someone who took it to quite his level."

"Everything I try to do is just based on winning football games," Bruschi said. "That's all. Whatever sacrifice I need to make, whatever I need to do, I will do to help the team win. Coming in playing special teams -- where do I line up? Third down -- what do you want me to do? You want me to play Mike, Wil [weak-side], Sam [strong-side], whatever it is. That's the attitude I have. I've never gone up to a coach and said this is where I want to play. They've always put me where they felt was best and I've always accepted it as, I trust them and that's where I need to be and I need to do my best to help the team win."

Compared to what he may have commanded as an unrestricted free agent following another strong season (he was an alternate for the Pro Bowl last year after posting 137 tackles, three forced fumbles, and returning two of three interceptions for touchdowns), Bruschi, who represents himself in negotiations, didn't appear to come out on top in June when he signed a four-year, $8.1 million deal that included a $3.5 million signing bonus. But he did, because there are things more valuable to him than money.

Like loyalty. He is making good on his promises to remain faithful to the franchise that, in his words, took a chance on a 6-foot-1-inch defensive end out of Arizona (it didn't hurt that he tied the NCAA Division 1-A career sack record with 52). Since becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first (and, to this point, only) time in February 2000, Bruschi shook hands on a deal three more times with the Patriots.

"To go to another team and have all those fans who bought that No. 54 jersey with my name on the back, which to me is the biggest compliment they could give me, for me to look up and see someone wearing the 54, for me to know that they'd have to see me wearing a 54 with another team's colors, I wouldn't like that," he said. "That would be painful to me and I wouldn't want to do that to any of them." 

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Solid backing

Patriots win 16th straight
FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) - New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi figures the streaking Super Bowl champs were starting from scratch in the NFL season opener.

''No one cares about last year,'' Bruschi said.
''The question is, 'Can you do it again?'''

On Thursday night in New England's 27-24 victory over Indianapolis, Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest did, and Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt didn't.

One play after McGinest sacked Peyton Manning for a 13-yard loss, Vanderjagt's field-goal streak ended at 42 when he missed a 48-yarder with 19 seconds left, giving New England its 16th straight victory - two shy of the NFL record.

''I was going to swipe at the ball and try to get the fumble out, but I figured he'd dropped back far enough,'' said McGinest, who stopped Edgerrin James on a fourth-and-1 play with 14 seconds left last season in Indianapolis in the Patriots' 38-34 victory.

 

Brady's numbers

Two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady completed 26 of 38 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns, but threw his first interception at home since 2002.

In the rematch of New England's 24-14 victory in the AFC championship game, Indianapolis gained 446 yards, more than the Patriots gave up in any game last season.

James rushed for 142 yards, but the Colts turned the ball over twice at the Patriots' 1 on Bruschi's interception on their first series and James' fumble on their next to last possession.

The 1-yard line proved to be a tough obstacle for the Colts again.

''This year's a different year, different teams,'' Manning said. ''You're supposed to score when you have chances down there.''

Manning threw two scoring passes to Marvin Harrison and Brandon Stokley. But the star quarterback is 2-9 against the Patriots and 0-6 in Foxboro, where he's thrown nine touchdown passes and 16 interceptions. Brady is 5-0 against the Colts and 41-12 as an NFL starter, including the playoffs.

''There's lots of room for improvement because you just don't want to let it come down to such close plays at the end of the game,'' Brady said.

Looking ahead

That helps keep the Patriots from looking ahead to Oct. 10 when they play Miami in what could be their record 19th straight win in the streak that includes the playoffs. Miami is one of five NFL teams that share the mark.

''You can't win all those games in one week,'' Brady said.

The Colts' chance to win Thursday ended when Vanderjagt, whose 32-yarder tied it at 3 early in the second quarter, sent his final attempt wide right.

''We had a lot of bad football going on before that kick,'' Colts coach Tony Dungy said. ''It was probably a fitting end to the game.''

Vanderjagt said ''I didn't choke'' but took the blame for his first miss since a 44-yarder in the 14th game of the 2002 season.

''When you crash, you crash and burn,'' he said. ''I blame it on no one but myself.''

Before the opening kickoff, the NFL staged an hour-long entertainment show at Gillette Stadium. It was telecast with a 10-second delay to give the league and ABC a chance to pull the plug on anything too racy such as Janet Jackson's breast-baring at the Super Bowl halftime show.

Elton John headlined the show that included the unveiling of the Patriots' second Super Bowl banner. But McGinest said, ''I think our show was a little more exciting than the pregame show.''

 

Waynesboro Record Herald: Patriots win 16th straight

This week's Notes and Quotes: 09/10/04

On the Colts’ first series, Tedy Bruschi intercepted Peyton Manning’s pass at the New England 1. On their next to last series, Eugene Wilson forced James to fumble at the 1 and rookie Vince Wilfork recovered.

And on Indianapolis’ final possession, Willie McGinest sacked Manning for a 12-yard loss that made the kick by Vanderjagt, who had made 42 consecutive field goal attempts, much tougher.

“You look back and you see you’re running out of room and you see something’s got to be done,” Bruschi said. “First and foremost, you want to stop them with zero points, get a turnover and get out of there. After that, you want to force them to a field goal, but you really just don’t want to let them in the end zone.”

MSNBC - Pats not exactly super, but open just fine

New England hasn't lost since last Sept. 28, the fourth game of the season, at Washington.

"That was some good football out there," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who intercepted Peyton Manning at the 1 in the first quarter. "That was two good teams.

"Offensively that's one of the better teams in the league and I've got to give them their props. They kept coming at us and kept coming at us and fortunately we took the ball away."

Bruschi set the tone in the first quarter. With New England leading 3-0, the Colts drove to the New England 6, but Bruschi intercepted a Manning pass at the 1.

Oh, what a near-miss win

"They’re good," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "They are a good team. You try to focus on Peyton and his receivers, and you forget about Edgerrin and he’s getting 140 on us. They have so many weapons and you can’t just focus on one. When you do that, they hit you with the other."

The Patriots buckled down in the third quarter and allowed James to rush for only 36 yards on nine carries. The offense took advantage and scored 17 unanswered points to erase the halftime deficit and give New England a 27-17 lead. Most of the production came with Ted Johnson playing interior linebacker and Jarvis Green manning a defensive end position, though Belichick didn’t feel it was a personnel issue.

"I thought defensively we played a little better in the third quarter, but it is team defense," he said. "I don’t think it was, ‘This guy was in there, everything was great and somebody else was in there and everything was bad.’ I didn’t see it that way. We had trouble with guys going to the middle of the field. We had trouble with the running game. All of those things were problems at one point or another, and they are all things that we need to do better."

Whatever adjustments were made at the half, the Patriots need to do more of the same next weekend in Arizona, or else we’ll see a repeat of that forgettable 2002 season.

"We have to look to where they got us and fix those areas," Bruschi said. "It’s still early, so we’ve got time."

The Herald News

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi figures the streaking Super Bowl champs were starting from scratch in the NFL season opener.``No one cares about last year,'' Bruschi said. ``The question is, `Can you do it again?'''On Thursday night in New England's 27-24 victory over Indianapolis, Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest did, and Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt didn't.

CBS 4 Denver: Sports National

On the Arizona Game Tribute to Pat Tillman

The New England helmets hanging from the locker of each player had already been affixed with the "40" decals on Wednesday. Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi plans to wear the decal honoring Tillman the rest of the season.

"It's something I'm proud to do," Bruschi said. "It's on my helmet right now. I'm proud to wear that number on my helmet, not just for this week but I'll wear it for the whole year for the sacrifice that Tillman made and the hero that he showed he is. We're not talking about political views or anything like that. We're talking about a hero. A hero that really sacrificed his life to really show the spirit of America and make all of us here appreciate what we have and be thankful of what we have because of people like him."
Official Website of the New England Patriots - 9/15/04 5:35:11 PM

The plan is for the Cardinals to wear the No. 40 decal for the remainder of the season. Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi also intends to do so. He does not concede the emotional lift solely to the Cardinals in Arizona's home-opener.

"I'm sure having a week dedicated to Pat Tillman is going to have (the Cardinals) a little bit more emotionally charged," said Bruschi. "But I'm a little bit more emotionally charged too, because of who he is and what he did."

Lowell Sun Online - Sports

Other nominees for AFC Defensive Player of Week 1 were:

  • New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who notched 12 tackles and an interception on New England's 1-yard line. Bruschi's interception was one of three turnovers forced by New England in its red zone.

NFL.com - NFL News

``Maybe with some of the teams we play, you can watch a regular-season game or two and feel like we're prepared,'' said linebacker Tedy Bruschi, one of the sextet that played against the Cardinals in the 27-3 New England victory at Sun Devil Stadium, site of Sunday's game, in 1999. ``But for this one, we've really got to do some deep film work on the beginning of the preseason, toward the end of the preseason and really focus on the first regular-season game, too, to get ourselves mentally prepared.''

There will be a lot of factors afoot in the game, not the least of which is the Phoenix area's legendary mid-day heat. Forecasts for game time Sunday have temperatures expected to hover near the 100-degree mark, one of the reasons why Belichick has opted to bring the troops out to Arizona after practice ends on Thursday.

``I went out there with my family in the offseason,'' said Bruschi, whose playing days at the University of Arizona are almost a decade in the past, ``and when we got there, the first thing we said to each other was, `It's hot!' That's just what it is.''

The Sun Chronicle Newspaper

The Patriots might not feel the effects as much because they’re used to rotating a number of players in and out of the lineup at all positions, thereby insuring they’ll have a fresh set of legs on the field at all times. Add that to the fact they’ll hold a walkthrough Friday in 103-degree weather and it’s a safe bet they’ll be prepared for the heat by Sunday.

Still, not all the players are wild about leaving on Thursday, including linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

"Saturday would’ve been OK with me," Bruschi said.

Fellow linebacker Rosevelt Colvin added that the "downside is you don’t get to see your family for the extra day."

The Middletown Press

 

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Bruschi hits all the right notes

Copyright © 2004 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

FOXBORO, Mass. — As usual, the crowd gathered quickly around Tedy Bruschi's locker. Television cameras, microphones, notebooks. The media was four-deep Thursday night after the New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 at Gillette Stadium, their semicircle around Bruschi's locker partially blocking the entrance to the locker room.

Bruschi, now in his ninth season as a Patriots linebacker, played a big role in the victory, with 12 tackles and a diving interception at the 1-yard line to halt the Colts' first drive of the game.

One reporter congratulated Bruschi on the pick, and then said, "You have tight end hands."

Actually, Bruschi has musician's hands.

Football, you see, is just part of Bruschi's life. He may hit and scratch and claw for a living, but he has a much more artistic side.

He plays the soprano saxophone and the clarinet and when he needs a break from the chaos that can be football, he makes time for his music.

"I was just blowing (the saxophone) last night," he said two days before the Patriots' season opener. "Whenever I have a few minutes or the kids are calm, I'll break it out a little.

"It just resets my mind, really. Sometimes it seems like I'm constantly thinking about football and this is something that just sort of takes me away a little bit, something that gets me back to being balanced and to being normal, really."

And that means a lot to Bruschi because, he said, he won't have football forever. But he will have his music.

He has twice been invited to play at Boston Symphony Hall in a fund-raiser for the Longy School of Music, a conservatory and community music school located near Harvard Square in Cambridge.

He was part of a saxophone ensemble that played Roger Buckland's "Watch Your Step," back in June.

"That's one of my favorite things to do in the off-season, to get together with the kids," said Bruschi. "You have a little fun. It's like I'm back in middle school playing in front of crowds."

Yes, that's right, Bruschi was a member of the band back in high school. His mom got him started in the boys' choir in the fourth grade and he gradually moved to instruments. He didn't actually start playing organized football until he was 14, and even then he continued to play in the band, playing junior varsity games and then playing in the band for varsity games.

But before his junior year at Roseville (Calif.) High, he had to make a choice because he was moving up to the varsity in football. "I chose the cleats," said Bruschi. "I just liked being more physical. Music was always fun, but hitting people sort of just came natural to me."

No kidding. Bruschi has become the face of New England's defense. Undersized for an inside linebacker at 6-foot-1, 247 pounds, and not especially fast, he nonetheless has become one of the NFL's premier linebackers. His full-speed approach to the game - "Full Tilt, Full Time" says the poster in his fan section - has endeared him to New England's fans.

Rodney Harrison, in his second year with the Patriots, compares Bruschi to his former teammate in San Diego, Junior Seau. "He's just hard-working, professional, consistent and he makes plays all over the field," said Harrison. "When you look at him, he's not the biggest, he's very unassuming. But the guy plays like he's 6-5, 300 pounds. That's how much heart he has in him."

He takes that heart to his music as well. To get ready to play at Symphony Hall, he practiced and practiced and practiced.

"You practice a piece so long that when you get out there, you sort of just let it go and you play," he said. "Sort of like football. You get ready with a game plan and when game time comes around, you know what to do and you just let your talent take over."

Bruschi's role with the Patriots has evolved over the years, going from a special-teams player to a special linebacker. Of course, he had to make the transition from defensive line in college - at Arizona, he tied the NCAA career sack record of 52 (with the late Derrick Thomas) - to linebacker as the pro. According to a pro football scouting guide, he ranks 14th among inside linebackers, but is also considered the best playmaker.

"Tedy means a lot to our team, defense, special teams, offense, everybody," Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said. "You know he loves the game. He loves to practice. He is very enthusiastic and upbeat about whatever it is he is doing.

"I think he sets a great example and is a good guy for any player to watch in terms of preparation, playing style, toughness, instincts, you name it."

Bruschi is now helping Dan Klecko, a second-year Patriot, make that same transition. The two talk constantly and Bruschi is always willing to spend extra time with Klecko.

"Even besides that, he's just a great guy," said Klecko, a nose tackle in college. "He helps with everything, from making the team to everything in life. He's a good guy to model yourself after."

The 31-year-old Bruschi said he's just trying to prepare Klecko for the day he can play in the starting lineup.

That exemplifies why Bruschi is so important to the Patriots. Just before training camp began, Bruschi signed a four-year contract extension worth $8.1 million.

He still had a year remaining on his contract and could have played out the season and ventured onto the free-agent market. Bruschi, who does not have an agent and represents himself in negotiations, didn't want that.

"I really didn't want to speculate about what could have happened after this year or anything like that," he said.

Bruschi probably could have received more money elsewhere as a free agent, but that wasn't important to him.

"There are some things that are just more important to me," he said.

All you need to do is look in his locker at the photos of his wife, Heidi, and sons Tedy Jr., and Rex, to know what he's talking about.

"Football is always going to be a game to me," he said. "I'm fortunate enough that it also happens to be my job and it is able to pay the bills. But to me it will always be a game. I've shown that it's more important for me to stay and be where I'm happy."

And Bruschi couldn't see himself wearing a No. 54 of a different color.

"I want to keep that Patriot 54 on as long as I can," he said.

Forever?

"I will be (a Patriot for life)," he said. "I'm telling you right now I won't play anywhere else. I want to be a Patriot."

And that's sweet music to the Patriots and their fans.

Bruschi hits all the right notes

No denying, Bruschi's a classic

By Glen Farley, Enterprise staff writer

FOXBORO — He is the New England Patriots' "Music Man."

"I'm not a football player," Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi says. "I play football, but there's a lot more to me than that."

Perhaps, but there's no denying that since his selection in the third round of the 1996 NFL draft, Bruschi's play has helped the Patriots strike the winning chord that has produced three trips to the Super Bowl and two Vince Lombardi Trophies.

With 12 tackles and a goal-line interception of a Peyton Manning pass in the first quarter, Bruschi was at it again last Thursday night, helping the Patriots play a winning tune in their 27-24 season-opening victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium.

Blue-collar tough and blessed with Erik Estrada good looks, Bruschi could be described as the quintessential football hero.

On the contrary, though, in a league filled with trash-talkin', rappin' and squawkin', Bruschi is unique.

Here is that rare NFL star who prefers Pavarotti to Puff Daddy.

"Seeing Luciano in Vegas was the coolest thing I did in the offseason," said Bruschi. "My dad (Anthony Sr.) used to call me in the room and say, 'Hey, Tedy. Sit down and listen to this.' To see (Pavarotti) live with my brother during the offseason in Las Vegas was a real treat for me."

To put that in perspective, Bruschi is a fan of a man who has been singing opera for longer than he has been alive.

"Prior to (seeing Pavarotti at Caesars Palace), I'd just listened to his CDs, listened to his music," said Bruschi. "I love it. That's my father's influence coming into me.

"I like the modern music, the top 20 stuff," said Bruschi, "but I've got as much of (Andrea) Bocelli and Pavarotti as anything else."

As the number of 54 jerseys worn by the female segment of your typical Foxboro crowd suggests, Bruschi exudes sex appeal.

But, to quote the man himself, there's a lot more to him than that.

Bruschi also has sax appeal.

"I was in fourth grade when I knew (the saxophone) was my instrument," said Bruschi. "I absolutely fell in love with it."

Twenty-two years later, he's still at it.

"I played it (last Wednesday, the day before the season opener)," said Bruschi. "Playing my sax, golf (are relaxing). Bad practice, I need to get my mind off it because I don't want to take it home to my wife (Heidi, whom he met at the University of Arizona) and kids (3-year-old Tedy Jr. and 2-year-old Rex). That helps free my mind a little bit."

The problem is trying to find the free time to play it.

If an NFL player's in-season schedule isn't busy enough, Bruschi has the added challenge of having two little ones around the house.

"You've got to keep it low a little bit at times because they're either napping or when they're awake and you're playing, they want to push the buttons," said Bruschi. "It's, like, 'OK. Just push the buttons.' And they're saying, 'Can I blow, Daddy?' They're chipping the reeds and everything like that, but it's fun. It's good to have the kids well rounded."

As a student-athlete at California's Roseville High, Bruschi was well rounded to the point where he paid the price, arriving at school at 6-6:30 a.m. to practice with the marching band, then staying late to practice with the football team.

Yes, Bruschi is one football player who truly marches to the beat of a different drummer.

Developing into an all-conference, all-metro and all-northern California defensive tackle at Roseville, Bruschi was ultimately forced to chose between game plans and sheet music. Graduating from junior varsity to varsity football as a junior, Bruschi opted for sacks over the sax, but he has never forgotten his roots, which date back to the age of seven when he sang in a choir, moving to the clarinet at age eight and then the saxophone at nine.

This past June 21, Bruschi was among those honored at a fundraiser that raised more than $100,000 for the scholarship and outreach programs of the Longy School of Music, a premier center for musical education located in Harvard Square that is one of only eight independent music conservatories in the United States.

Bruschi was one of a select group of junior and senior saxophone ensembles (he was a junior) that played Roger Buckland's "Watch Your Step" at Boston's Symphony Hall.

Nerves?

Just as he did before strapping on his helmet to bang heads with Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison in front of 68,756 fans and a national television audience last Thursday night, Bruschi experienced them prior to carrying his alto saxophone on stage to join 10 students from the Longy Junior and Senior Ensembles.

"Like a game, after the first play, the first hit, in a concert after the first note you're alright," said Bruschi. "It's the same in that way for me."

Just as he relies on the likes of Richard Seymour, Roman Phifer and Rodney Harrison on game day, Bruschi relied on his musical teammates come show time.

"Toward the end, you think about the notes you missed," said Bruschi. "There were a couple of notes I missed, but, just like a game where you might miss a couple of assignments, you can get covered up. I was playing with 10 other junior saxophonists, so your tenor sax next to you might cover up just like in a game where you might mess up a play and a teammate might cover up for you. So it works both ways."

The Enterprise at SouthofBoston.com

Here's a great article that was the Sunday Herald (but wasn't online...) 

Too small to read but here's a picture of the full spread:

I was able to Smart Capture it from my online subscription however it was too big to get full pages large enough to read so I needed to do it in chunks... Toggle between thumbnailed pictures  to read.

Always a step ahead

Kent Somers
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 16, 2004 12:00 AM

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi has played for New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick for so long now that he's not surprised by the breadth or the intricacies of the game plans handed to him each week.

No, Bruschi marvels at what happens on Sundays, when the clock is ticking, the other team's offense is moving and the game plan needs altering.

"I've seen everything that Bill will eventually throw at us," said Bruschi, in his ninth season out of Arizona, "and I can kind of anticipate what is going to come. What surprises me a lot are some of the sideline adjustments he and (defensive coordinator) Romeo Crennel make. Once something is giving us problems, we'll come in at halftime or sideline adjust and get something fixed right then and there."

That's what the Cardinals are dealing with Sunday in Belichick and the Patriots: a coach known for imaginative game plans and willing to change on the fly.

"He's going to come out and present a lot of problems at the beginning of the game," Cardinals coach Dennis Green said, "then he'll adjust and add additional problems in the second quarter. He has been known to pile on, so he'll come with more adjustments in the third quarter, and in the fourth quarter you are going to see some things you never saw before."

That's one reason this game seems like such a mismatch. Green is in his first year as coach of the Cardinals. He doesn't have a roster full of his kind of players yet, and he certainly hasn't fully installed his system.

Belichick, in contrast, is in his sixth year with the Patriots, who have won two Super Bowls in the past three years and have a 16-game winning streak, two shy of the NFL record.

Belichick, though, brushes off that stuff as if it were lint on the sweatshirts he loves to wear. What the Patriots are, he said, is 1-0 this season. Nothing else is relevant.

"There's no championship team," he said. "There's been one game played this year, and that's it. And so nobody's won anything, nobody's done anything."

Over the past three years, no other team has been as good as the Patriots at doing whatever it takes to win. They'll do it by passing 48 times, as they did in beating Carolina 32-29 to win the Super Bowl in February.

Or they can pound the ball, especially this year with the addition of running back Corey Dillon.

Defensively, the Patriots can beat a team in myriad ways.

In a Week 1 27-24 victory over Indianapolis, they rushed just three linemen about half the time, Green said. Against Cardinals quarterback Josh McCown, making his fifth start Sunday, they could send everyone but the ballboys.

The problem, Green said, is determining what the Patriots will do from play to play. On one play, their weakside linebacker will go one way. On another, he'll do the opposite.

"All those things come from his willingness to be unpredictable and to have a system that's so well-tuned," Green said of Belichick. "That continuity is something most people don't have a chance to have."

In evaluating players, Belichick and Scott Pioli, the team's vice president of player personnel, pay particular attention to mentality. Can a player handle what the coaching staff will ask of him?

"I think really what it comes down to is, when you take a player onto your team, you get everything that that player has," Belichick said. "You get his mental makeup. You get his physical makeup. You get, to a certain degree, his work ethic. You get his confidence.

"You may be able to improve some of those things marginally, but in the end, you're getting the whole package, and you'd better be comfortable with that or you're probably going to end up looking for another player."
 

Always a step ahead

Pats honor true patriot
By Brian Gomez
Monday, September 20, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. - Hunched over near his locker inside Sun Devil Stadium, Patriots  linebacker Tedy Bruschi  paused for a moment to wipe some sweat from his brow, and then to gather his thoughts about Pat Tillman.

``He's an American hero in my mind, for what he did and for the sacrifices that he made,'' Bruschi said of Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals safety who was killed in Afghanistan five months ago.
 

     On Sunday, Tillman, the first NFL player killed in combat since the Vietnam War, was honored across the NFL, as all players wore No. 40 decals on the back of their helmets. The Cardinals paid tribute to their former player at halftime of the 23-12 loss to the Patriots, including the presentation of a framed jersey with Tillman's name and No. 40 to his widow, Marie.
 

     ``He represented the United States, and he fought for us,'' said Pats punter Josh Miller, who, like Bruschi, attended the University of Arizona. ``We were able to take our hat off to him and his family.

ke Bruschi and Miller, Pats linebacker Willie McGinest acknowledged Tillman's sacrifices.
 

     ``He was a good player, and he stood for a lot of things,'' McGinest said. ``Not a lot of guys would have done what he did.''
 

     As he jogged out of the tunnel before the second half, Tom Brady  caught the tail end of the tribute, where fans unveiled a banner of Tillman's jersey that covered about 40 rows. The gesture made the Pats quarterback put things in perspective.
 

     ``What he gave to this country and the sacrifices that he made gives everybody a great example of what a hero he is,'' Brady said. ``He is the type of person you should look up to. What we do by playing football doesn't hold a candle to what he did in his life, and the actions he chose.''
 

     Bruschi understood the importance of Tillman's contributions well before the halftime ceremony.
 

     ``Without the tribute, I know what kind of sacrifice he made,'' Bruschi said. ``I was proud to wear the 40 on my helmet. I respect Pat Tillman, and I'm glad they did something for him.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Pats honor true patriot

Bruschi Still Patriotic

Tedy Bruschi was one of the original enforcers of the University of Arizona's legendary defense the Desert Swarm. Nearly nine years later, he's showing he can still reek havoc in the desert.

"It was eerie to be out there again," Bruschi said following his Patriots' win over the Arizona Cardinals. "I guess I'm five and oh now (at Sun Devil Stadium). I won here at the Fiesta Bowl and all my college career. It's good to come away with a win."

While his New England team rides a 17 game winning streak, Bruschi, who tied the NCAA record with 52 sacks as a Arizona Senior, still finds time to follow his Alma Mater. "I know they lost in the final minute with missed kick but I'm confident Coach Stoops will bring us back," Bruschi said.

Bruschi's allegiance is unwavering for his Patriots too. He's been in New England since being drafted in the third round. During the off-season he signed an 8.1 million dollar contract extent ion over the next four years that included a 3.5 million dollar signing bonus.

"I've been here 9 years and I hope to finish here," Bruschi said.

Bruschi Still Patriotic

 

This week's Notes and Quotes: 09/19/04

 

On Emmitt Smith

`Once you get into your 15th year, I'm sure I can pop in some film from his sixth, seventh or eighth year, and see things he's not able to do now,'' Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said of Smith. ``Back then, he was doing such amazing things. But still, what he does now, is still darn good.    ``I saw him in preseason, and last week, where he ran for that touchdown, and I said to myself, `Man, he's still got it.' He can still do things when his number is called upon.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: The lead runner: Old pro Smith can still show the youngsters a step or two

 

We anticipated them getting the ball early and they had some success early, especially in the early drive," said Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, alluding to Smith gaining 8 yards on each of his first two carries. "But we made a few sideline adjustments and we realize [Smith] is still a threat and we respect that." 

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Stop signs align for defense

Report Card:  Linebackers: A-

 Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson and Roman Phifer, the rotation at inside linebacker, combined for only four tackles because they were able to shut down Smith early, take him out of the equation and force Arizona to go with the passing game.

BostonHerald.com - Patriots:Report Card

 

Shula backs Belichick: Downplaying streak is perfect approach
By Michael Felger/ Patriots Insider
Wednesday, September 22, 2004

FOXBORO - At some point the Patriots are going to have to admit they've won 17 straight games - and counting. They're going to have to acknowledge their place in the NFL history books. They can't deny it forever, can they?
 

     Of course, Bill Belichick [news] would like his players to do just that. As Tedy Bruschi  likes to say, the Pats have merely won one game 17 times. That's the company line, and it permeates the locker room, where every player is told not to believe the hype.
 

     According to one former coach who knows a thing or two about streaks, that's the only approach to take.

Rest of article here: BostonHerald.com - Patriots:

 

On Facing High Expectations:

 

"I think what you have to do is acknowledge [expectations] first and foremost, because it's on TV, it's in the newspapers, it's in the locker room when the media comes in and you're asked about it," Tedy Bruschi said. "So you have to talk about it. I think you just acknowledge it, respect it, and realize that it's there. You try not to focus on things you did last year. You move on and realize that we've won two games this year and try to make it three."

This system of dismissing expectations and dealing with the task at hand through preparation and strict focus appears firmly in place for the Patriots. This team has discovered a formula of doing things it's own way. Ironically, it's the exact winning success that this system has produced that leads to the expectations the team must now deal with.

"We've been in such a mode for so long," Bruschi said. "Just going, and I think [coach] Belichick does such a great job of just continuing to harp on it. In the team meetings and practices he's just harping on what we have to do to win that week, and I think he's done a good job of that."

Official Website of the New England Patriots - 9/24/04 5:11:01 PM

 

Patriots awe rookie receiver

Kent Somers
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 24, 2004 12:00 AZ

Receiver Larry Fitzgerald is only 21 and has experienced two NFL games. But he can't imagine a team defending him better than New England did last week.Fitzgerald caught five passes for 36 yards against the Patriots, but most of them were harmless short slants.  "It just showed me how much harder I have to work to get on that level one day," he said. "I've never played against a cornerback the caliber of Ty Law. You come out of the huddle and you see (linebackers) Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi. They have so many guys that are Pro Bowl-caliber players."

 

Patriots awe rookie receiver



NFL Players ''Drafted'' by United Way

ALEXANDRIA, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 23, 2004--The National Football League and United Way team has added nine new players to the roster for the 2004 public service advertising campaign kicking off the 30th season of these popular ads which focus on community involvement. The new campaign debuts this month with the start of the 2004 NFL season on ABC, CBS, FOX and ESPN to an audience of more than 100 million people weekly. After three decades, the series has featured nearly 1,000 spots and it is the longest-running charitable collaboration of its kind.

 

"United Way Draft," the creative concept behind the new ad series, is a spin-off of the NFL Draft. But rather than drafting players into professional football, United Way is drafting featured players and millions of volunteers into civic engagement by encouraging them to get involved in their local communities around the country.

"For more than 30 years, the NFL has helped United Way show millions of Americans what can be accomplished when people work together in their community and truly make a difference," said United Way of America president and CEO, BRIAN GALLAGHER. "With this latest campaign, we hope to inspire even more Americans to get involved in the things they care about most and help improve people's lives."

This year's United Way "Draftees" include: TEDY BRUSCHI of the New England Patriots, KEVIN CARTER of the Tennessee Titans, BRIAN DAWKINS of the Philadelphia Eagles, MARSHALL FAULK of the St. Louis Rams, EDWIN MULITALO of the Baltimore Ravens, CHAD PENNINGTON of the New York Jets, ANTWAAN RANDLE EL of the Pittsburgh Steelers, MIKE RUCKER of the Carolina Panthers and BRIAN URLACHER of the Chicago Bears.

NFL Players ''Drafted'' by United Way;

A man of many talents

Sunday, September 26, 2004

By CHRIS KENNEDY

ckennedy@repub.com

Tedy Bruschi has established himself as one of the most productive and popular New England Patriots. The 31-year-old linebacker and team captain contributes on both defense and special teams. A third-round draft choice out of Arizona, the California native has spent his entire nine-year career with the team. There is more to No.54 than football, however. He serves as his own agent and also plays the alto saxophone, twice performing alongside others at Symphony Hall in Boston as part of the Longy School of Music's annual gala. Tedy and his wife Heidi have two sons, Tedy, Jr., and Rex, with a third on the way.

Q: How did you first become involved in football?

A: Football was an accident for me, really. I had moved up to Roseville, California from San Francisco. I moved up there for the second half of my eighth-grade year, met some friends and then going into high school orientation, I saw a few of those friends. They waved me over. Down by their feet, they had some cleats and a cooler. I asked them what they were for, and then said, 'We're going to go and try out for the football team, and you should come.' So I said sounds like fun, and I went.

Q: You play the saxophone and have even performed in public. How did your interest in music develop?

A: It was suggested to me by my mother (laughter). She initially wanted my brother Tony to sing in a boys choir, and my brother didn't want to do it. I said I'd do it. Of course, I was so young, around 7 years old. My brother was close to 10. ... We both ended up doing it. That's how I initially got into music. I ventured into playing the clarinet, which was my first instrument, then moved to the alto saxophone.

Q: Those are two time-consuming activities. At what point did they conflict?

A: They clashed around my junior year in high school. My freshman and sophomore years I played my freshmen or junior varsity football game, then I would change and play at halftime of the varsity game. I would change uniforms and go out there and play (the sax). When I was a junior I was on the varsity football team, and I couldn't do both. I couldn't change my uniform at halftime and go out there and perform. (laughter). I had to make a choice, and I liked football a little bit more.

Q: You still play quite a bit, practicing frequently in the off-season and even some during the season. What does it do for you?

A: It's like going to the golf course. It just takes my mind off things. I always think about football. I try to leave it here (at Gillette Stadium), but I think about football at home. I think about plays, I think about games, I think about opponents. When I play my instrument or I'm out there hitting some golf balls, it really just clears my mind, and I just get in such a relaxed mood where I find myself a lot more enjoyable to be around.

Q: So it's challenging but not competitive?

A: My whole life is based on competition when I'm here. I welcome my music when I don't have to compete with anyone, except with myself in terms of trying to get better.

Q: There must be some pressure when you play in front of people?

A: Yeah, there is. That's when I say to myself there's a lot of people out there, and I get into my game mode, go out there and do what you do. After the first note, you feel better, just like after the first play in football.

Q: You talk about your Mom getting you involved in music, but your Dad influenced you as well. Can you talk about the memorable concert you went to this off-season?

A: Luciano Pavarotti, that was probably the highlight of my off-season. My father would motion me into the room (when I was kid) and say, 'Hey Ted, listen to this song.' It would be Luciano on his record player, he would sit there, have a glass of wine and listen to Luciano Pavarotti's music. I would sit there and listen, too. I sort of learned from my father as I sat there and listened.

Q: Now you say you're not competitive in golf, but I heard you are competitive if you are playing your brother Tony.

A: That's true, that's true. My brother doesn't play football, so we have our little games out there. Not too many words were said when we were playing. It got to the point where we said, 'OK, we're not competing this time, let's just play and have fun.'

Q: Your wife was a high school volleyball coach for a while and a talented athlete as well. Is she as competitive as you?

A: She was a Division I softball player and volleyball player at Arizona. She has a lot of athletics in her background, and she is just as competitive as me. When I would watch her coach, it was more of the same.

Q: You serve as your own agent, pretty unusual in a sport with complicated contracts as well as a salary cap. Did you feel uneasy about that at first?

A: It was a scary a little bit, but I trusted the information that was given me through the players' union and the information I got from other players. I was real confident that I was smart enough to handle it and confident enough that a good deal could be hammered out no matter who I dealt with. To do that, I also knew I wasn't going to have another voice telling me that possibly I'd have to switch teams (to make more money).

Q: You've said before you're more interested in security and continuity than chasing a few extra bucks.

A: When I was a kid growing up, I felt players moving and coaches moving, it really took away from being a fan of the NFL. I like football, I like watching it, but I really couldn't follow a team because it seemed like a team was totally different the next year. I made it one of my goals to try my best to stick with the same team before I got drafted. I've tried to do everything I could to make that happen.

Q: What was like when you realized you became pretty popular, when people starting recognizing you and looking up to you?

A: Every time I see a "54" jersey I'm still surprised. I see someone in the stands with my jersey and name on the back, I sort of shake my head and can't believe someone is wearing my jersey.

Q: Does that popularity add any pressure, any sense that you are a role model? Do you start to think hey, people are watching me?

A: I do think of that. I want to be a role model for kids and show them the right things to do, but I don't want to put too much pressure on myself to do that because I want to be a role model for my family, for my two sons, for my third son that is on the way. If I just focus being the best man, the best father and husband I can be, I think that's all I should really focus on.

Q: You've been in the league for a while now. Are you a guy who wants to play football as long as you absolutely can, or do you think you might be someone who reaches a point where you figure you have accomplished enough and you want to try some different things?

A: I think I'm a guy who is smart enough to know when it's time to move on in my life. I'm in my ninth year now. After every year, I take an inventory, talk to my family about how I'm feeling and how our life is at that particular point, and that's when I make the decision about whether it's time to keep playing or stop.

A man of many talents

Nearing a decade of service in NFL, Bruschi loyal to Patriots

By Jack Magruder

ARIZONA DAILY STAR

TEMPE

 

Tedy Bruschi took his wedding ring out of his travel bag, kissed it, slipped it on the proper finger and walked into the adoring light.

 

About 100 New England Patriots fans, some wearing No. 54 Bruschi jerseys, hailed Bruschi as he left the locker room following a 23-12 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday.

 

It has become a routine. A former UA All-America defensive end, Bruschi improved to 5-0 at Sun Devil Stadium, even if this one seemed a bit surreal.

 

"It was sort of eerie out there walking out there," he said. "I think I should be wearing No. 68 (his UA number), wearing an 'A' on my helmet."

 

Still, it was another in a series of A-list days. After winning his second Super Bowl in three years Feb. 1, Bruschi did not exactly sit around polishing his ring.

 

In the interim, Bruschi has:

 

● Visited the White House;

 

● Attended opening day at Fenway Park;

 

● Leveled the back yard in his Las Vegas home to create more play room for his two sons, with a third on the way;

 

● And, oh yes, signed a four-year, $8.1 million contract that included a $3.5 million signing bonus.

 

 

Nine years after tying an NCAA record for sacks, Bruschi has a firm grasp on his future, too.

 

"The Pats are my team, the place I want to stay," said Bruschi, 31.

 

"I've been with them through ups and downs, and I don't see why I shouldn't finish with them."

 

Nor they with him.

 

"He's got a lot of energy. He's a real upbeat guy. He's a very emotional guy, which is great for our team," coach Bill Belichick said after the Patriots limited the Cardinals to 167 yards offense.

 

"He's smart. He's made the transition from being a down lineman in college to not only being a linebacker, but being a coverage linebacker, not just a rush linebacker. He's a great team player."

 

Another connection to the past was made at halftime, when former ASU and Cardinals safety Pat Tillman was honored.

 

Tillman was killed in Afghanistan last spring while serving as an Army Ranger. All NFL teams wore Tillman's No. 40 on their helmets Sunday.

 

Bruschi and Tillman never met but they had a lot in common. Bruschi was the Pac-10 defensive player of the year in 1995; Tillman won that award in 1998.

 

"I was proud to wear the '40' on my helmet today. He's an American hero in my mind, for what he did and the sacrifices he made," Bruschi said.

 

About 50 family members and friends watched Bruschi play, including former UA teammates Jim Hoffman and Chris Lopez.

 

"It's nice to have a homecoming when I come back here," Bruschi said.

 

Bruschi draws a crowd in the Northeast, too. There are two Internet fan sites devoted to Bruschi, a fan favorite who has adopted the "Full Tilt, Full Time" motto of the fans in Section 116 at Gillette Stadium.

 

A New England football signed by Bruschi was going for $106.95 Sunday on the Internet. His autographed throwback No. 54 red jersey is sold out, although a few in the crowd had them on Sunday.

 

"My family is great. My career has gone OK to this point," Bruschi said with typical modesty.

 

"I'm just trying to keep it going. Today was (New England linebacker) Roman Phifer's 200th career NFL game. I look to him in terms of longevity.

 

"Hopefully I can play as well and as long as he has."

 

This week's Notes and Quotes: 09/27/04

On Drew Bledsoe:
The Pats have noticed on film that Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe is making a concerted effort at unloading the ball quicker. ``I've seen him hit a number of check-downs already in the last couple of weeks,'' said linebacker
Tedy Bruschi [news]. ``He'll look downfield and immediately come back to a tight end or back in the flat. I think he's getting better at that, yeah.'' . . .

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Wilfork eager to see ex-mate McGahee

Quarterback Drew Bledsoe facing his former team? It's an old storyline, said Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.    "I think we're used to seeing him as our opponent now," Bruschi said. Bledsoe agreed that "it's not the same as it was a couple of years ago" but acknowledged "it is still definitely a date on the calendar that I am very aware of."

Daily News Transcript - Sports Coverage

To be sure, the Patriots will go after Bledsoe, as the Bills’ offensive line has struggled for over a year trying to protect him.  “You realize you’re going to have a chance to get there, but you’re going to have to beat the protection schemes,” Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. “I’ve seen a number of checkdowns the last few weeks, seen him look downfield and then come back to a back or a tight end. I think he’s getting better at that.”

The Telegraph Online

On Travis Henry:

Buffalo (0-2) has struggled on offense the first two games, averaging only 242.5 yards per game. The Bills, though, do have a rugged runner in Travis Henry who seems to have earned the genuine respect of the Patriots (2-0). The biggest knock on Henry has been that he fumbles too much. "I think he is one of the hardest runners in the NFL," New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "You really need to wrap up on him and tackle this guy because he's established you can't arm tackle because of his strength."

Run defense must face another test

FOXBORO - Streak? What streak?

    That, predictably, is the approach the Patriots [stats, news] are taking toward their quest to match the NFL's unofficial record of 18 straight victories on Sunday in Buffalo.  The players say it all means nothing to them and, with their history, you just might be able to believe them.  ``When you win 16 or 17 in a row, there's a reason why we've gotten here and that's taking it one game at a time,'' said linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news], spouting the cliche they've proven true over and over again. ``We've always looked at it as one game and all of sudden, here we are and you've racked up a bunch in a row and people want to ask you about it. But we're still going to approach it the same way, focusing on the opponent you have that week.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Mum's the word on streak

On The Red Sox...

Down in Foxboro, where the Patriots play, no one is taking October off. If the Patriots beat the Bills on Sunday in Buffalo, they will go for the record, 19 consecutive wins, the following week at home against Miami.Will anyone notice if the Red Sox are still alive? "I don't really care about the streak," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We've only won two games. Those other games were last year. "This is crunch time in baseball. People are excited about the Red Sox. I'm excited, too. But they'll be just as excited for us when we get rolling."

KRT Wire | 09/29/2004 | In New England, Patriots win titles, but Red Sox are heart and soul

On Matt Chatham:

Many of his teammates, while kidding him about the article, were also surprised to find Chatham had another talent.      ``On the field, and in the locker room, guys put on a certain persona. Like a lot of people didn't know I played the saxophone,'' said Tedy Bruschi [news]. ``Chatham's the same way. It's like, `What, he really did something for the magazine? He can actually write?' So I was really surprised by it.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Take this job and love it: Matt Chatham, Jarvis Green moonlight with eye on the future

This week's Notes and Quotes: 10/05/04

Pats still a bit streaky
By Kevin Mannix/ Report Card
Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Linebackers: A

     Tedy Bruschi should have been voted to the Pro Bowl last year, a slight that won't be repeated this year. He's been dominant, making big plays when the game is on the line. His forced fumble against Bledsoe was the play of the game, just as his interception turned the Colts game in the Pats' direction. He finished with seven tackles (tied for the team high) with two sacks and a forced fumble.

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Pats still a bit streaky

 

Belichick on Bruschi

Belichick lauded linebacker Tedy Bruschi for his playmaking ability. Bruschi, of course, stripped Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe in the fourth quarter to set up Richard Seymour's game-sealing touchdown return.

     "I think that there are certain players that sometimes you can't even find the right word or the right identification, but you just know that they are playmakers. They just have a knack for making plays. They have an instinct for the ball or an instinct for the situation. They just seem to make the right decision at the right time and not always do the same thing. They could have the same situation come up a couple of times, one time do one thing, one time do something else, but it's the right thing. Tedy is one of those players.

     "He's very instinctive. He's been a high producer at every level of football he's ever played, regardless of what position it's been at, line, linebacker, special teams. Whatever he's asked to do, he's a good football player. He's the type of guy you want on the field in every situation."
 

MetroWest Daily News - Sports Coverage

Pete Prisco on Bruschi:

Give me 22 Tedy Bruschi's and I'll beat you every Sunday. That guy is a football player, pure and simple. He had seven tackles and two sacks against the Bills. Bruschi is worth every penny the Patriots pay him. If every player in the league played with the passion of Bruschi, we would have better football. I love that guy.

CBS.SportsLine.com - NFL Week 4 Review: Few certainties in parity-driven NFL

 Defensive Player of the Week... Week 4

DEFENSE: LB TEDY BRUSCHI, NEW ENGLAND

The Patriots' Bruschi chalked-up eight tackles, including 2.0 sacks, in a 31-17 victory at Buffalo for the team's 18th consecutive victory -- one win away from netting the longest winning streak in NFL history. The nine-year veteran from Arizona forced a game-clinching Buffalo fumble on fourth-and-3 at the New England 17-yard line as the Patriots clung to a 24-17 lead with 2:59 left in regulation. After forcing the fumble, Bruschi had the presence of mind to get up and block the nearest Buffalo player to enable teammate Richard Seymour to run 68 yards for a touchdown after recovering the loose ball. The game was the third of Bruschi's career in which he produced multiple sacks.

This is the third Player of the Week distinction for the 6-1, 247-pounder, all of which have been awarded since Week 2 of last season.

NFL.com - NFL News

Patriots win a different way

DAVE GOLDBERG, AP Football Writer

Saturday, October 9, 2004

 

Just look at some of the plays that have extended the streak:

 

* Tedy Bruschi's strip of Drew Bledsoe as Buffalo threatened to tie last Sunday's game. Richard Seymour returned it 68 yards for the clinching touchdown. McGinest and Bruschi seem to be the biggest big play men: Bruschi's interception return last season was the only TD in a 12-0 win over Miami.

Patriots win a different way

Game Preview: Miami at New England

Oct 9, 2004
by The Insiders

Patriots:

  • LB Tedy Bruschi has been a full-time starter since 1999, his fourth year in the league. Since then, he's developed a reputation as a big-time playmaker with nine interceptions, 38 pass breakups, nine forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and four defensive touchdowns. Of course, that touchdown total doesn't include the one Richard Seymour scored last week when he picked up a fumble forced by Bruschi and ran 68 yards for a touchdown. In three games this season, Bruschi has intercepted Peyton Manning at the goal line, forced that aforementioned fumble in Buffalo and notched a pair of sacks. "I think with some players you can't even find the right word or the right identification, but you just know they are playmakers," head coach Bill Belichick said. "They have an instinct for the ball or an instinct for the situation. They just seem to make the right decision at the right time. Tedy is one of those players.

PatriotsInsider.com: Game Preview: Miami at New England

He's in position to succeed

Versatile Bruschi still a driving force

FOXBOROUGH -- In his ninth year with the Patriots, Tedy Bruschi has continued to defy description. Is he a defensive lineman in a linebacker's body? Or is he a linebacker with a defensive lineman's demeanor?

"I think there's certain players that sometimes you can't even find the right word or right identification," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick in trying to define Bruschi as a player. "But you just know they're playmakers."

Ah, now there's a word that seems to best suit Bruschi -- playmaker.

"Tedy's one of those players," Belichick said.

Bruschi proved that much in Sunday's 31-17 victory over the Bills, registering two of New England's seven sacks against Buffalo quarterback Drew Bledsoe, marking Bruschi's third multiple-sack game of his career.

"I came in as a defensive lineman and I had to learn how to play linebacker," said Bruschi, who has consistently re-invented himself since he was drafted in the third round of the 1996 draft as a standout defensive end from the University of Arizona. "I tried to take my game to the next level every year -- not just in terms of statistics, but in terms of improving every year as a player.

"You get to a certain point where you can make tackles, you can make sacks and you can make interceptions, but can you take it to the next level and help your team score and get the ball in the end zone or do something that affects someone to help them get the ball in the end zone?"

Bruschi's first takedown of Bledsoe proved pivotal, resulting in a forced fumble as Bledsoe tried a play-action bootleg on a fourth-and-3 attempt from the New England 17 with 2:59 left and the Bills trailing, 24-17. It produced the game's biggest play when Richard Seymour scooped up the loose ball and returned it 68 yards for a clinching touchdown.

Bruschi, though, instinctively sniffed out the play-action well before the ball was snapped to Bledsoe. "I sort of had a feeling the way it looked; the demeanor of the offensive line, and the running back [Travis Henry], and the way Drew had more of a drop-back action," he said, describing what he saw before Buffalo's ill-fated fourth-down attempt. "I felt it was a pass, so I just went for the quarterback instead of the running back."

The ball had no sooner been snapped when Bruschi found himself in Bledsoe's face, poking the ball loose.

"Well, the ball was close when it first came loose and it was either me or Drew," Bruschi said. "One thing I wanted to do was not let Drew get it, so I tried to sort of pick him up a little bit and separate him from the ball. I knew he had better position on it than I did, and I had to hope for the next best thing, which was to hope that one of my teammates would come and get it." 

Seymour pounced, but he never would have scored his first TD as a pro were it not for Bruschi's heads-up play.

"That's Tedy," said safety Rodney Harrison. "Tedy's always around the ball. He's constantly coming up with the big play and he's always delivering for us."

Just as he did the last time Miami visited Foxborough.

Playing before a Gillette Stadium crowd of 68,436 that braved a snowstorm last December, Bruschi helped the Patriots clinch the AFC East Division title with a 12-0 shutout of the Dolphins.

Bruschi helped break open a 3-0 game by scoring the game's only touchdown on a 5-yard interception return of a Jay Fiedler pass, triggering a memorable reaction from the crowd, which celebrated the play by tossing snow into the air in perfect synchronization with Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Part 2."

"I don't think it'll be snowing Sunday," Bruschi said with a laugh, referring to the Patriots' AFC East showdown against the winless Dolphins at 1 p.m. at Gillette Stadium. "Maybe it will, you never know. But, yeah, that was a memorable moment from last year and how the fans reacted, you usually can't have a reaction like that because you don't usually have a storm during the game, that close to the game.

"It was something people will talk about, it was last year, but it was something I'll remember. That's one of the greatest crowd reactions I've ever been around, to see the snow go up in the air like that. It was something that you don't forget."

It only served to underscore Bruschi's uncanny play-making ability.

"He's very instinctive and he's been a high producer at every level of football he's ever played, regardless of what position it's been at -- line, linebacker, special teams," Belichick said. "Whatever he's asked to do, he's just a good football player. He's the type of guy you want in every situation. [Special teams coach] Brad [Seely] would love to have him on every special teams. You'd love to have him on every play, defensively.

"He's the type of player you have a lot of confidence in and he's a very productive player. He finds a way to get it done -- not always the most conventional way of doing it, because he's got his own unique playing style."

And that's precisely what drew the Patriots to draft Bruschi.

"I remember when we sat in the draft room and took him, the conversation was, `Look, we're taking him, we're taking a good football player, we don't know what we're going to do with him exactly, but we figure we'll find something,' " Belichick said. "He was a third-round pick. It was a significant pick. It wasn't like he was a throwaway guy in the ninth round or something."

The Patriots converted Bruschi into a linebacker, working him on the outside of their 3-4 defense. He moved from outside to inside linebacker where "he became a third-down, sub-rusher for us," Belichick said.

"It was clear pretty quickly that not only was he going to make our football team, but he was going to help our football team -- and he did in his rookie year in 1996," Belichick said.

"And he was a lot of fun to be around. A high-energy guy, a great guy to coach."

Belichick then offered the perfect description of Bruschi when he said of his playmaker, "He's just a football player." . . .

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / He's in position to succeed

Bruschi comes up big again
By Steve Conroy
Tuesday, October 5, 2004

 

FOXBORO - Patriots  coach Bill Belichick  clearly recalled yesterday the discussion he had regarding Tedy Bruschi [news] in 1996 when the Patriots were thinking of drafting him.
 

     At 6-foot-1, Bruschi didn't fit the mold of an NFL defensive lineman, the position he played at Arizona. His level of achievement, however, in the Wildcats' ``Desert Swarm'' defense was hard to ignore. He had 52 career sacks, tying him with the late Derrick Thomas for the Division 1 record, he was a two-time finalist for the Lombardi Award and he was his team's MVP.
 

     ``The conversation was, `We're taking him, we're taking a good football player. We don't know what we're going to do with him exactly, but we'll find something,' '' said Belichick, an assistant on Bill Parcells' staff at the time.
 

     Bruschi established his position on the team as a rookie and has displayed an uncanny penchant for making game-breaking plays ever since.
 

     He did it again Sunday in Buffalo when, on fourth-and-3 at the Patriots' 17-yard line with the Bills driving for what could have been a tying score late in the fourth quarter, he broke through the line of scrimmage. Before quarterback Drew Bledsoe knew what to do, Bruschi was on top of him, knocking the ball out of his hands so Richard Seymour  could scoop it up and run it back for a touchdown.
 

     ``There are certain players that sometimes you can't even find the right word or right identification for, but they just have a knack for making plays,'' Belichick said. ``They have an instinct for the ball or the situation and they just seem to make the right decision at the right time. And he might not do the same thing in the same situation . . . but it's the right thing, and Tedy's one of those players.
 

     ``He's very instinctive. He's been a high producer at every level of football he's ever played, regardless of what position it's been - line, linebacker, special teams. He's just a good football player. He's the type of guy you want on the field in every situation. . . . He finds a way to get it done.''
 

     His play Sunday was just the latest in a long line of big plays made during the team's run to two Super Bowl wins.
 

     ``That's what I feel that not only I can do, but also other guys,'' Bruschi said. ``Willie (McGinest) has taken interceptions to the house, (Mike) Vrabel's made big plays, Ty Law  and our DBs score also. I think a lot of us are capable of not only getting a turnover, but turning turnovers into points.''
 

     He's the only player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for TDs, the most recent of which was his 5-yard return against the Dolphins last season that clinched the AFC East title and set off the memorable snow-tossing celebration at Gillette Stadium.
 

     ``It's not something that's happened by accident,'' he said. ``Ever since I came in the league - I came in as a defensive lineman and I had to learn how to play linebacker - I've tried to take my game to the next level every year.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Bruschi comes up big again

 

Patriots' Bruschi continues to stop at nothing to come out on top

The veteran linebacker will do anything to get past his blocker and get to the ballcarrier. "If you can't go left or right," he says, "you have to go over him."

 

01:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, October 5, 2004

BY KEVIN McNAMARA
Journal Sports Writer

FOXBORO -- As some of his teammates grooved to music, chatted on cell phones or participated in the daily game of cutthroat dominoes, Tedy Bruschi slowly dragged his tired body across the New England Patriots' locker room yesterday morning. As he settled into his locker, someone asked the 31-year old veteran if he was sore.

"Did you see the game?" Bruschi said. "It was real physical out there yesterday."

It's easy to see why Mondays aren't Bruschi's favorite day of the week. On Sunday, Bruschi was one of the stars in the Patriots' 31-17 win over the Buffalo Bills, a game where he threw his body all over Ralph Wilson Stadium just like he has in virtually all 123 games of his career.

"I like going airborne," Bruschi said of his aggressive play. "If you can't go left or right, you have to go over him."

It's a style that's led to a host of big plays, the type of plays that decide football games. Bruschi played a central part in the game's biggest play on Sunday when he blitzed Drew Bledsoe late in the fourth quarter, stripped the ball from the Buffalo quarterback and watched lineman Richard Seymour scoop up the loose ball and ramble 68 yards for a game-breaking touchdown.

Despite an advanced age for an NFL linebacker, Bruschi, 31, seems to possess that special knack for always being around the football. In his nine seasons, Bruschi has 9 interceptions, 22.5 sacks and 4 touchdowns off turnovers.

"That's what I feel I can do," Bruschi said about his playmaking skills. "Not only me, but Willie (McGinest) has taken interceptions to the house, (Mike) Vrabel's made big plays. Ty Law, of course, we feel our (defensive backs) can score also. There's a bunch of us out there on defense who can make a play and get a turnover, but also turn a turnover into points."

Bruschi's heroics, especially late in a game, are so routine they seldom surprise either his teammates or coach Bill Belichick.

"Some things you can't teach," said safety Rodney Harrison. "He has that awareness you can't teach. He's always around the ball and will make the big play."

Belichick was asked yesterday just what it is that makes Bruschi such a difference maker.

"There are certain players where sometimes you can't find the right word or the right identification. You just know they're playmakers," the coach said. "They have a knack for making plays, an instinct for the ball or an instinct for the situation. They just seem to make the right decision at the right time. Tedy's one of those players. He's been a high producer at every level of football he's played, regardless of the position he's been at. Line, linebacker, special teams, whatever he's asked to do, he's just a good football player. He's the type of guy you want on the field in every situation."

Coming out of the University of Arizona as a star pass rusher, some scouts weren't sure if Bruschi could make it in the NFL. At 6-1 and 247 pounds, he was labeled too small for defensive end and maybe too slow for linebacker. The Pats, however, saw a productive player who tied the NCAA record with 52 quarterback sacks. Former coach and general manager Bill Parcells grabbed him with a third-round pick in the 1996 draft.

"I remember when we sat in the draft room the conversation was 'We're taking him. We're taking a good football player and we don't know what we'll do with him exactly,"' said Belichick. "Once he got here, it was clear pretty quickly that not only was he going to make our football team but that he was going to help our football team. That was in 1996. He's a fun guy to coach. He's a football player."

When you string together the type of career Bruschi has, fans and coaches start looking for cracks in the armor. When will Bruschi's body start to break down. When will the injuries take their toll? When will his legs slow to the point where he's no longer effective?

Bruschi says he thinks about such things now but he's faced challenges before. He's helped the Patriots to two Super Bowl victories in three appearances and remains a key to the team's fortunes.

"Ever since I came into the league, I had to learn how to play linebacker and I had to take my game to the next level every year. I had to keep improving as a player," he said. "You get to the point where you can make tackles and make sacks and make interceptions, but can you take it to the next level and help your team score and do something that helps the team win? That's what we're after."

projo.com | Providence, R.I. | Patriots

Bruschi Named AFC Defensive Player of the Week
By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
October 06, 2004

New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi has been named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday.

Bruschi chalked-up eight tackles, including 2 sacks, during New England's 31-17 win over the Bills.

Leading 24-17 the veteran linebacker forced a game-clinching Buffalo fumble on 4th-and-3 at the New England 17-yard line with 2:59 left in the game, which teammate Richard Seymour scooped up and ran back 68 yards for a touchdown. The play sealed the victory for the Patriots who have won 18 consecutive games.

This is the third Player of the Week distinction Bruschi has received, all of which have been awarded since Week 2 of last season.

Chasing history: Pats close in on NFL legends, dating to Halas Era
By Kevin Mannix
Sunday, October 10, 2004

FOXBORO -- Should the Patriots [stats, news] do the expected and beat the Dolphins today to extend their winning streak to 19 games, they WON'T set an NFL record. The league doesn't recognize postseason games in its official book of records.

     As far as the league anals are concerned, the record for consecutive victories is 17 straight, set by the 1933-34 Bears of the George ``Papa Bear'' Halas Era -- Bronko Nagurski, Red Grange and the rest of the Monsters of the Midway. Using that league mandated criterion, the Patriots have won 15 straight and won't get a chance to share the record until next week against the Seahawks with a shot to break it the following week against the J-E-T-S.

     Record or not, what this team has accomplished over the past calendar year is extraordinary. Should they win today, they will have surpassed the 18 consecutive victory totals compiled by some dominant, Hall of Fame-laden teams.

     There were those early Bears of Halas, Nagurski and Grange. There were the 1941-42 Bears, who in the middle of a 33-2-1 run, had 18 consecutive victories, each by at least 10 points, and featured Sid Luckman and Bulldog Turner. There were the 1972-73 Dolphins who won back-to-back titles and had six Hall of Famers, including former Patriot Nick Buoniconti. Then there were the 1989-90 49ers with Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott, and the 1997-98 Broncos of John Elway, Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe.

     Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers never managed that. Neither did Chuck Noll's Steelers or Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys.

     And here are the Patriots, YOUR New England Patriots, on the verge of history, still following the lead of their head coach, still shrugging off their accomplishments.

     Pretty good stuff there, huh, Rodney Harrison [news]. Deep down, you guys have to feel satisfied with what you've done and are about to do.

     ``It doesn't mean anything,'' the Pro Bowl safety asserted. ``Nothing at all. The only thing that matters is where you are at the end of the season. We're only 3-0 right now. We haven't done anything. We haven't qualified for the playoffs. We've won three games. That's it.

     ``When guys start feeling good about their accomplishments, they're setting themselves up for a fall and to be assassinated by their next opponent. We know that. We also know that the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor is at the end of the year, after the Super Bowl. Just like we did last year. But during the season you have to stay humble and hungry.''

     Kicker Adam Vinatieri [news] shares Harrison's broad overview of the need to look ahead, not behind. But he does admit to an appreciation of what the team has done. Briefly, anyway.

     ``It's definitely a big accomplishment but I guess the way we look at it is we're more concerned about this year and definitely this week,'' Vinatieri said. ``There are a handful of guys on this team who weren't even with us when we won the first 15 (last year).

     ``If we're able to set records, the time to look back will be when we're old and gray. We'll be able to say, `It was pretty damn good to set that record.' It will be the same when we look back on the championship years. This isn't the time for that.''

     Linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news], the catalyst in so many of these victories, simply chuckled when asked about the team's ability to avoid the dangers of enjoying successes under Bill Belichick [news]'s watch.

     ``As soon as we come in after a game, Bill goes over what he saw -- good and bad -- and he's talking about our next opponent,'' Bruschi said. ``I guess we might enjoy what we've just done on the field on the way back to the locker room after the game but that's about as far as it goes.

     ``And it's not just one guy. It's this whole team. We all believe in moving on and focusing.''

     And, in the spirit of teamwork, that leaves the rest of us to focus on the mundane minutiae of in-season records.

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Chasing history: Pats close in on NFL legends, dating to Halas Era

Bruschi's brain gives him edge
By ALAN GREENBERG, The Hartford Courant


FOXBORO -- There's an old Southern football saying about competing and winning: It isn't the size of the dog in the fight that matters, it's the size of the fight in the dog.


And when the "dog" with the most fight is also one of the smartest, adept at anticipating his opponent's next move, able to overcome his lack of size and speed with an unorthodox but successful style, then you have, in Patriots Coach Bill Belichick's understated term, "a football player."


But isn't every helmeted person in the NFL "a football player?" Only technically. They may all play football, but to a coach's way of thinking, there are only some whose essence makes them worthy of the compliment, "He's a football player."


Tedy Bruschi is one.


Last Sunday in Buffalo against the Bills, the Patriots linebacker, who is generously listed at 6 feet 1, 247 pounds, made another of those big plays that have come to define his career. With 2:59 left and the Patriots clinging to a 24-17 lead, the Bills, having driven 64 yards to the New England 17, eschewed a field goal attempt and went for it on fourth-and-3.


Although an unblocked Bruschi surged through a center-guard gap and sacked quarterback Drew Bledsoe, what made the play special was that before he attempted to tackle Bledsoe, Bruschi had the presence of mind to first try to knock the ball out of Bledsoe's hands.


Bruschi could have done the conventional safe thing. He could have sacked Bledsoe and the Patriots would have taken over on downs. Maybe Bledsoe would have fumbled when Bruschi tackled him, but probably not. Either way, Bruschi would have been acclaimed, not blamed. Assuming that Tom Brady and Co. could then make a first down, the Patriots would have run out the clock to seal the victory.


But by first knocking the ball out of Bledsoe's hands, which allowed defensive end Richard Seymour to grab the fumble and run 68 yards for the game-clinching touchdown, Bruschi made a huge play that, in essence, ended the game.


"In that situation, I don't just want the tackle," said Bruschi, who was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week and leads the defense today as the unbeaten Patriots play host to the Dolphins, going for an NFL record 19th consecutive victory.


"I don't just want the sack. I want the big play. I want the score. That's how our defense thinks. I slapped at the football instead of going for the big hit. Then big Richard got it and took off. That's how we want to play. Somebody do something. Somebody make a play."


Bruschi's way of thinking is pervasive on the Patriots defense, and it's a key reason why they're so successful. Patriots defenders make lots of big plays, but not because they gamble. They're more like card-counters who double down at the blackjack table when they know the percentages are clearly in their favor.

 
Unless they're desperate, which, being ahead, they rarely are, the Patriots defenders won't go for the glory play if they don't have backup, if missing it probably means a big gain or touchdown for the opponent.

 
The Bledsoe strip-sack was Bruschi's second huge play of the young season. In the opener, the Colts, trailing 3-0 in the first quarter, had second-and-goal at the New England 6 when Peyton Manning tried to rifle a throw over the middle to tight end Dallas Clark, who was standing just over the goal line. The ball never got there, because Bruschi, seeing that the play wasn't a run, slipped back into a passing lane and intercepted.


"I think that there are certain players ... they just have a knack for making plays," Belichick said. "They have an instinct for the ball or an instinct for the situation. They just seem to make the right decision at the right time and not always do the same thing. They could have the same situation come up a couple of times, one time do one thing, one time do something else, but it's the right thing. Tedy is one of those players. He's very instinctive."


Bruschi last season became the first player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for touchdowns. The last one, a 5-yard TD return of a fourth quarter Jay Fiedler pass Dec. 7 at Gillette, was the game's only touchdown and sealed the Patriots' 12-0 victory over the Dolphins, clinching the AFC East title.


That's fairly amazing considering Bruschi was a defensive lineman and sack monster (52, tying the NCAA record at the time) at the University of Arizona who played his entire career hunched over in a three-point stance before joining the Patriots.

 
Little wonder that when you ask Bruschi which personal trait he is proudest of when he looks back at his eight-plus Patriots seasons, he doesn't hesitate.


"My intelligence," he says. "That I'm able to learn multiple positions. Every year, I had to reinvent myself and do something different."


Belichick was a Patriots defensive assistant under Bill Parcells in 1996 when the Patriots picked Bruschi in the third round.


"I remember when we sat in the draft room and took him," Belichick said. "The conversation was, 'Look, we're taking him. We're taking a good football player. We don't know what we're going to do with him exactly, but we figure we'll find something.'


"We made him a linebacker. He worked some outside, which is where your pass rushers traditionally play in the 3-4 defense. ... Then we moved him inside. Then he really became more of a rusher in obvious passing situations for us. His role was (to do that) and play in the kicking game. Playing in the kicking game was a little bit new for him. He hadn't done a lot of that his last couple of years in college, so that was an area of growth for him. But it was clear pretty quickly that, not only was he going to make our football team, but he was going to help our football team. He's a lot of fun to be around. He's a high energy guy. He's a great guy to coach."

 

Bruschi's brain gives him edge: 10/ 10/ 2004

Karen's Note:  Guess I know how to pick em... here's an article on my favorite Patriots Player and my favorite Red Sox Player!

 

Catalysts for success: Sox’ Damon, Pats’ Bruschi
By IAN M. CLARK and KEVIN GRAY
Union Leader Sports

OCTOBER SPLENDOR has arrived, and it doesn’t get much better than this, New Englanders.

Along with the spectacular foliage and crisp afternoons, we’re enjoying two of the hottest sports teams in all the land. Today, the Patriots attempt to win an unprecedented 19th straight game in the NFL. Meanwhile, the sweep-happy Red Sox are preparing for Tuesday’s Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

While both teams have thrived on selfless leadership, qualities that could be found among a number of players, the spirit of the Red Sox and Patriots is epitomized by two fan favorites, the Sox’ Johnny Damon and the Pats’ Tedy Bruschi.

New Look Sox


Many players have made an impact, but Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon and Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi are emotional catalysts for their teams' success. (AP)

A white-knuckle ride through the 2003 postseason ultimately cost manager Grady Little his job and increased business for anger-management therapists. To start the healing process, the Sox brought a loose approach to spring training.

Damon, with a Vidal Sassoon hairstyle and caveman beard, personified the new-look club. By the time Boston met New York for an ultra-hyped spring training game, the Sox had left behind the gut-wrenching Aaron Boone homer, the botched Alex Rodriguez deal, and the off-season angst that gripped a region.

Through time and a major trade involving Nomar Garciaparra, the Red Sox forged a new identity and surged into the playoffs, with Damon at the forefront.

If Jason Varitek is the no-nonsense leader and Kevin Millar the team-chemistry major, Damon is most certainly a catalyst from his leadoff position.

While more attention was devoted to Boston’s sluggers, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, a steady Damon turned in perhaps the best leadoff seasons in all of baseball. No leadoff man had more runs (121) or RBIs (94), and Damon led the American League’s leadoff hitters with 20 homers and 76 walks. The bearded wonder batted .304 during the regular season and collected another three hits on Friday night, finishing the American League Division Series with a .467 average and four runs scored.

Belichick’s Blueprint

If New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick were to draw up a blueprint of his ideal football player, the list of specifications would start with athletic ability, smarts, heart, willingness to work, the proverbial “high motor,” and instinct.

Belichick and the Patriots covet players with as many of those traits as can be squeezed into pads and a helmet. Team credos are blue-collar work ethic, tunnel vision, a make-no-excuses attitude, and respect for the opposition.

And no player better epitomizes the Patriots’ ideal than a 6-foot 1-inch, 247-pound linebacker named Bruschi.

A defensive lineman at Arizona, Bruschi tied the NCAA Division I record for career sacks with 52. But as a third-round draft pick in 1996 (when Belichick was assistant head coach to Bill Parcells), Bruschi was considered too small to play line in the NFL. Converted to linebacker, Bruschi has become the prototypical overachiever in his nine-plus seasons.

Belichick saw the potential in Bruschi right away.

“It was his rookie year. I remember when we sat in the draft room and took him. The conversation was, ‘Look, we’re taking him. We’re taking a good football player. We don’t know what we’re going to do with him exactly, but we figure we’ll find something,” Belichick said. “It was clear pretty quick that, not only was he going to make the team, but he was going to help our football team.

“He’s a lot of fun to be around. He’s a high-energy guy. He’s a great guy to coach.”

Johnny Be Good

Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein believes the multi-skilled Damon is one of the game’s most valuable players. Manager Terry Francona, while answering questions about Boston’s firepower, felt compelled to spotlight Damon during the first ALDS press conference at Anaheim.

“He ended up with 94 RBIs from the leadoff spot. I mean, he’s had an incredible year. I am a little surprised people haven’t talked about him more because his impact on our ball club has been unbelievable.”

In the 10th inning Friday night, Damon showed his defense excellence with a typically superb catch, which dramatically changed the complexion of the game. The victim was Anaheim’s Jeff DaVanon, who drove the first pitch from Derek Lowe to deep center, a shot that could have put the go-ahead run on second or third base.

Damon said the ball “kept going and going, and it actually scared me that last second.”

Sprinting back to the warning track while 35,547 fans hold their breath is never a comfortable feeling.

“It’s not a good feeling at all. We play this game and try to be as loose and relaxed as possible,” Damon said. “You play hard on every play . . . and whatever happens after that, you never know.”

A year earlier, Damon had been involved in a fearsome collision with then-Red Sox second baseman Damian Jackson, Damon getting knocked unconscious with a concussion that kept him out of the remainder of the ALDS. Migraine headaches, the lingering after-effects of the collision, continue to plague him.

Red Sox fans have come to appreciate Damon’s free spirit, hustle and performance more than ever before. After sparking Boston’s surge throughout the second half of the season, the third-year Sox center fielder (signed as a free agent after 5½ seasons with Kansas City and one with Oakland) was voted winner of the annual 10th Player Award.

Blitz’n Bruschi

New England’s omnipresent linebacker has consistently ranked among New England’s leading tacklers, but it’s the plays that don’t show up in a box score that set Bruschi apart. He is always around the ball. He can fill the hole on rushing plays. He can hang with running backs and tight ends in coverage.

And as Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe knows, he can blitz. Bruschi met up with old friend Drew, the former Patriot, in the biggest play of last Sunday’s 31-17 Patriots victory in Buffalo. New England was ahead 24-17, but the Bills were driving late in the game.

On fourth down, the Bills called a fake handoff to running back Travis Henry. Having done his homework, Bruschi was not fooled. Knowing that Bledsoe tended to make a small hop when trying to sell a fake handoff, Bruschi ignored Henry once he saw Bledsoe make the anticipated movement, and focused his sights on the Bills QB.

Wrapping up the quarterback would have been grand, but Bruschi saw an opportunity and slapped the ball out of Bledsoe’s hand. The Patriots’ Richard Seymour scooped up the fumble and began to rumble toward the opposite end zone. Yet Bruschi wasn’t finished with the play. Spotting the one Bill with a chance to stop Seymour, Bruschi threw a crushing block, and Seymour proceeded to go 68 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.

Said Belichick, “I think that there are certain players that sometimes you can’t even find the right word or the right identification, but you just know they are playmakers.”

He was speaking of Bruschi.

New England fans hope to watch Bruschi and Damon make many more plays throughout the month.

On Sunday, Oct. 31 — Halloween — the Patriots visit the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 4:15 p.m. tilt. If the Red Sox win the American League pennant and the World Series goes the full seven games, New England fans will be able to finish watching Bruschi and his buddies just in time to change channels to catch the first pitch of Game 7 from Fenway Park.

October splendor has arrived.

The Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News - 11-Oct-04 - Catalysts for success: Sox’ Damon, Pats’ Bruschi

Champs always come through

By DAVE GOLDBERG
The Associated Press

Of the six NFL teams that have won 18 consecutive games – including playoffs – the New England Patriots have by far the lowest margin of victory.

That is no surprise to the Patriots or anyone who has watched them as they seek their 19th straight win today against Miami. They do not dominate, they simply make big plays when they need them – over and over again as coach Bill Belichick and assistants push exactly the right buttons.

Just look at some of the plays that have extended the streak:

• Willie McGinest's sack in the dying seconds on opening night that pushed Indianapolis back just far enough to miss a potential tying field goal. Last year, McGinest's fourth-down stop at the goal line in Indy saved a game.

• Tedy Bruschi's strip of Drew Bledsoe as Buffalo threatened to tie last Sunday's game. Richard Seymour returned it 68 yards for the clinching touchdown. McGinest and Bruschi seem to be the biggest big play men: Bruschi's interception return last season was the only TD in a 12-0 win over Miami.

• Rodney Harrison's interception of Peyton Manning's pass in the end zone on Indianapolis' first possession in last year's AFC title game set the tone for New England's victory. Harrison is the classic Patriot, an aging Pro Bowler discarded by San Diego who proved to be the ultimate team player on a winning team.

• Long kick returns by rookie Bethel Johnson that led to wins last season against Tennessee and Indianapolis, one reason the Patriots got home-field advantage in the playoffs, where they beat the Titans and Colts again.

That is not even counting numerous big plays from quarterback Tom Brady and the huge kicks by Adam Vinatieri, including two that won Super Bowls in the final seconds – and two in the snow at Foxboro that won a 2001 playoff game with Oakland that propelled New England to its first title. Or Troy Brown's 55-yard punt return for a touchdown that sent the Patriots on their way to an upset of Pittsburgh in the AFC title game that year.

"They just don't make mental mistakes," says Don Shula, whose unbeaten 1972 Miami Dolphins also helped win 18 consecutive games, a streak that carried over to 1973.

"They make big plays in big games defensively. McGinest in the Colts' opener this year. Last week, end of the ballgame, they strip the quarterback and run it in for a touchdown. It's what you expect from a championship team."

Adds Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, an assistant on the San Francisco team that won 18 straight: "They've had five or six games in that stretch where they could have lost. Somebody came up with a big play. I like their team because they appear to not care who gets credit."

The Patriots' average margin of victory during the streak is 8.9 points per game.

That's four points lower than the Denver Broncos of 1997-98, another of the 18-win teams. And it goes up from there: the '89-90 49ers at 13.3; Shula's Dolphins at 14.7; the 1941-42 Bears at 15.2; and the 1933-34 Bears at 24.1.

That reflects this era in which free agency and the salary cap have promoted parity. But that also demonstrates the remarkable nature of the Patriots' streak.

Even 15 years ago, the 49ers were one of a half-dozen teams (most of them in the NFC) at a level above the rest of the league, an imbalance that provided some easy wins. Denver's streak came during the salary cap era, but it turns out the Broncos were cheating. They have been fined twice by the NFL and forfeited draft choices for cap circumvention during that period.

The Patriots' system is perfect for the cap.

They don't necessarily get the best individual, although Seymour, McGinest and Ty Law all were first-round draft choices and are certified Pro Bowlers. They traded a second-rounder this year to get Corey Dillon, also a name player, to upgrade the running game.

But don't give them much credit for spotting Brady and taking him in the sixth round; if any team had known how good he'd become, he would have been drafted much higher.

Many Patriots are like Bruschi, a 250-pound lineman at Arizona who was a third-round draft choice in 1996, when Belichick was an assistant to Bill Parcells.

"I think that there are certain players that sometimes you can't even find the right word or the right identification, but you just know that they are playmakers," Belichick said this week. "They have an instinct for the ball or an instinct for the situation. Tedy is one of those players. He's very instinctive. He's been a high producer at every level of football he's ever played, regardless of what position it's been at — line, linebacker, special teams. Whatever he's asked to do, he's a good football player. He's the type of guy you want on the field in every situation."

The Patriots come up with players like that more often than other teams. They now are trying to turn Dan Klecko, an undersized defensive lineman taken in the fifth round last season, into a linebacker, with Bruschi as one of his tutors.

"I remember when we sat in the draft room and took him," Belichick recalled, talking again of Bruschi. "The conversation was, 'Look, we're taking him. We're taking a good football player. We don't know what we're going to do with him exactly, but we figure we'll find something.' It was a significant pick. It wasn't like it was a throwaway guy in the ninth round or something.

"It was clear pretty quickly that, not only was he going to make our football team, but he was going to help our football team and he did in his rookie year. He's a great guy to coach. ...

"He's a football player."

And he defines the Patriots.

Northwest Herald - Online

Patriots set standard

BY MARK FARINELLA/SUN CHRONICLE STAFF

FOXBORO -- Trumpets did not sound from upon high, choirs of angels did not sing, the Red Sea did not part, and nothing really miraculous happened when the New England Patriots had finally earned their 19th straight victory late Sunday afternoon.

No, this was the ultimate Lunch Pail A.C. victory -- a regular win, won by regular guys who, collectively, have been better in the last year than anyone else who ever played in the NFL.

``There's always something you can improve on,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi said after the Patriots' 24-10 triumph over the winless Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. ``You can pick any type of situational thing that our coaches will pick upon that we haven't been performing too well, and we'll find something to improve at, don't worry.''

But that's no knock on the Patriots or what they have accomplished.

Having won more games in a row, including playoffs, than any other team in the eight-decade history of the NFL is no less of an accomplishment just because the Patriots have the uncanny knack of playing just how well they need to play to dismiss an opponent.

In their streak, nine of the games have been decided by a touchdown or less.

Read the rest of article here.

Pats' record-setting day --
Belichick joins celebration

By Michael Felger
Monday, October 11, 2004

FOXBORO - If you were among the 68,756 to attend yesterday's game at Gillette Stadium, study your ticket closely and hang on to it. Like an old Beatles album, it contains clues and messages about something that was a forbidden topic in Foxboro until Bill Belichick [news] was drenched by a rare Gatorade bucket shower at the end of yet another victory.

     As Richard Seymour [news] put it, the Pats aren't going to get any trophies for defeating the Miami Dolphins [stats, news], 24-10, and setting the NFL record of 19 straight victories. But for at least a day, Belichick allowed himself and his players to revel in something no other NFL team has ever accomplished.

     ``That felt good,'' said Belichick, his hair still soaked in the postgame interview room. ``I told the team they should be proud to accomplish something no other team has accomplished. But the goal isn't to win four games.''

     Though tepid, that acknowledgment marked the first time Belichick had ever mentioned the streak to his players. Tom Brady [news] said it constituted a ``green light,'' and the players followed suit by finally owning up to it.

     ``This is something we can hold on to,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] said. ``Something no other team has done before. We can talk about it today, but come Wednesday, I won't mention it again.''

     The front office obviously had a sense of history as well, and it included several subliminal clues about the streak on their tickets. If you take the numbers of the two players pictured, Eugene Wilson [news] (26) and Tyrone Poole (38), you'll find the individual digits add up to 19. Look closely at the uniform number of the referee in the picture: No. 19. And written on the stands in the background is the phrase: ``Sec. 19 in a row.''

     And the Walrus was Paul.

     ``The Patriots [stats, news]' achievement is not only unprecedented but also remarkable when you consider how competitive our league is today,'' commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in a statement. ``Congratulations to the entire Patriots organization on this extraordinary milestone.''

     The NFL officially recognizes records only set during the regular season. The Pats, whose current streak includes three playoff wins, can tie the NFL's record for consecutive regular-season victories (17) by beating Seattle next week.

     As for the game itself, it's hard to accurately gauge how well the Patriots played because the Dolphins are a mess - and they played like it. Surely, the Pats defense was its usual ferocious self, as both Dolphins quarterbacks Jay Fiedler (ribs) and A.J. Feely (concussion) were knocked from the game in the fourth quarter.

     The Pats said they took up the challenge of matching Miami's well-regarded defense. Every time they heard another accolade thrown at the Dolphins, the Pats became more determined to assert themselves. Rodney Harrison [news] put the exclamation point on the win with his knockout sack of Fiedler in the shadow of the Pats' end zone late in the fourth quarter.

     ``We knew they could give our offense problems if they clicked on all cylinders. So we had to go out there and do the same thing,'' cornerback Ty Law [news] said. ``That's when you come from out of the shadows and knock them in the head.''

     The Pats took advantage of bad Miami mistakes all day. A Randall Gay interception set up a 1-yard touchdown catch by Daniel Graham [news]. A failed run on fourth down by punter Matt Turk set up a 5-yard touchdown catch by David Givens [news]. And a Fiedler fumble in the third quarter (forced by Harrison) eventually led to a 1-yard scoring run by Rabih Abdullah.

     Brady threw for only 76 yards (a career low), but it was more than enough. The Pats will now set their sights on the 3-1 Seahawks, who will fly into Gillette next week for what is sure to be called a Super Bowl preview. The topic of the streak is about to become taboo once again.

     ``We will enjoy it for about 15 minutes,'' kicker Adam Vinatieri [news] said. ``And then we'll get ready for Seattle.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Pats' record-setting day -- <br>Belichick joins celebration

Hey 19!

Patriots surge into the books

FOXBORO - It took a Gatorade bath to finally wipe the grimace off Bill Belichick's face.

As the Patriots marched into history with their 19th straight victory, Coach Doom finally allowed his players to savor the record he had forbidden them to ponder. And his players made sure he would do it in the traditional way - wet.

"I think it was due," cornerback Ty Law said of the soaking after a 24-10 win over the Dolphins yesterday at Gillette Stadium. "We accomplished something and it's out of the way. But I don't think Coach Belichick has to worry about getting another bucket on him unless we win a championship. It was like, 'OK, let's dump him, so it's over with and we can move on.'"

Compared to the way the local baseball team celebrates not-quite championships a little bit up the road, it was hardly euphoric. But that's the way things have been in Foxboro, where two Vince Lombardi trophies sit in the lobby.

Remarkably, the Patriots established the standard for consistency in the era of parity, where teams go from good to bad and back from one season to the next. The four great franchises that had won 18 straight were all from the pre-free agency age.

"You guys have to answer that question because we've had a one-game-at-a-time mantra," linebacker Tedy Bruschi explained. "It just happened that we strung them together 19 times. That's the way we looked at it and that's why we've succeeded. We don't look at streaks, we look at opponents.

"We're going to have a little fun with this," Bruschi went on. "But we realize what got us in this situation in the first place, that undeniable focus about looking at the next opponent and the next practice. Come Wednesday, we won't be saying anything about it. It will be all about Seattle."

The 3-1 Seahawks visit next week, when the talk will be about a possible Super Bowl preview, followed by the unbeaten Jets the week after. So the hype just won't go away. But, then again, the Patriots do a pretty good job of dealing with hype.

Yesterday's win was rather matter-of-fact. The now 0-5 Dolphins arrived with a pathetic offense and their scoring potential was made even worse when kicker Olindo Mare was hauled off on a cart after reinjuring a calf muscle in the warmups. Rookie return man Wes Welker, whose prior experience was one blocked PAT attempt at Texas Tech, had to fill in.

The Patriots didn't play all that well. Miami's still-staunch defense gave Tom Brady, who was without his three top receivers, a fat lip and stitches while limiting him to a 7-for-19, 76-yard afternoon. There were penalties and some uncharacteristic breakdowns.

The Pats, however, were also able to score three TDs, helped by a Dolphins interception and fumble, with Brady throwing TD passes to tight end Daniel Graham and WR David Givens. Their defense, meanwhile, stopped the Dolphins on two fourth-quarter stands inside the 10-yard line. In the process, they sent QB Jay Fiedler to the sidelines with bruised ribs.

"A lot of games we've won have been done the same way," Belichick said later. "A lot of players have made plays at key times of games and they've come from all different units and different types of players. It comes in different forms. There's no set formula."

Belichick said he told his team it could be proud of doing "what no other team in pro football has done.

"But that being said, our goal is not to win four games," he added.

His players echoed those thoughts.

"Nineteen in a row, you can't take anything away from it," OG Matt Light said. "But will it mean anything at the end of the season? If we don't win, 19 in a row is just going to tick everybody off."

"Everyone has a little bit of selfishness, to say, 'Hey I could have a piece of history,'" Law said. "But it doesn't mean anything if we can't make it to the postseason. Nobody will talk about 19 in a row. They'll still be talking about the '72 Dolphins. They went undefeated with a Super Bowl win."

New York Daily News - Sports - Hey 19!

Patriots make history

October 11, 2004

BY HOWARD ULMAN

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Coach Bill Belichick let a rare smile crease his face before reminding his New England Patriots what their record winning streak meant.

''He said: 'Congratulations on the streak, great job. Now we've got to think about Seattle,''' Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said. ''He rarely celebrates anything. And to lead a team to 19 victories in a row is something to be proud of.''

At least Belichick, who had been downplaying the streak all season, gave the Patriots some time to savor their NFL-record 19th consecutive victory, a 24-10 triumph Sunday against the winless Miami Dolphins, before they start preparing for their next game against the Seahawks.

PATRIOTS 24
DOLPHINS 10

''It doesn't mean anything right now because we are still in the middle of the season,'' Patriots cornerback Ty Law said in a very quiet locker room. ''The fruit will taste a little bit sweeter if we can give ourselves an opportunity to play for another championship.''

The Patriots (4-0) won behind two touchdown passes by Tom Brady, who had his worst statistical start as a pro (7-for-19 for 76 yards), and two turnovers by the offensively inept Dolphins (0-5).

The Dolphins trailed 24-10 before reaching the Patriots' 1-yard line on their last series. But quarterback Jay Fiedler hurt his ribs and back on a 12-yard sack on second down, and backup A.J. Feeley suffered a concussion when he was hit by linebacker Rosevelt Colvin on a fourth-down incompletion.

''As a player, you don't think about what [the Patriots] are doing,'' Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor said. ''We've got our own things to worry about.''

The Patriots, who can match their franchise-best 5-0 start next week, had shared the 18-game record with the Bears in 1933-34 and again in 1941-42, the Dolphins in 1972-73, the San Francisco 49ers in 1989-90 and the Denver Broncos in 1997-98.

''They're some great teams, and it's nice to be a part of that,'' Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. ''[But] during the season, the only milestone that teams want is the Super Bowl.''

The Dolphins' problems began when kicker Olindo Mare left the field on a cart with an injured right calf before the game. They continued until Fiedler and Feeley were hurt at the end.

''We felt good about moving the ball,'' said Fiedler, who had X-rays and didn't know whether he would play next week. ''But you look on the scoreboard, and you only see 10 points.''

Patriots make history

Pats make NFL history with 19th consecutive win
By Steve Krause
Monday, October 11, 2004

FOXBOROUGH - "Get your cameras ready," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said after Sunday's 24-10 win over the Miami Dolphins. "This is the one time we're going to acknowledge this even a little."

     The game resembled a war of attrition as much as anything else. The Patriots went into it without two front-line wide receivers (Deion Branch and Troy Brown) and a third (Bethel Johnson) on the bench via coach's decision.

     They were without starting cornerback Tyrone Poole. And midway through the third quarter, they lost running back Corey Dillon with an ankle injury after a 36-yard jaunt down the left sideline.

     But they survived ... some would say barely. And in so doing, the set a National Football League record for consecutive wins with 19. The last time they lost was in Week 4 of the 2003 season (Sept. 28). So they allowed themselves the luxury of celebrating. Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour douse coach Bill Belichick with Gatorade afterward (the coach's bright red sweatshirt was still drenched when he conducted his post-game press conference). And after treating the streak like it was a germ of mass destruction for most of the season, the Patriots paused for a moment to reflect. But only for a moment, they stressed.

     "This is the only week I really thought of it," said Bruschi. "And that's because it was here. We had a chance to do something special. So let's do it. Now, we go back to taking them one at a time."

     The echoes were similar across the board.

     "I told the guys they should be proud of their accomplishment," Belichick said. "That said, this has little to do with our overall goal. We've only won four games."

     Harrison had as much to do with the victory as anyone - even moreso than quarterback Tom Brady, who threw for two touchdown passes inside the red zone. It was Harrison who forced a fumble after Miami quarterback Jay Fiedler had run a keeper up the middle for a first down early in the third quarter (leading directly to Rabih Abdullah's one-yard touchdown plunge); and it was Harrison, late in the game, with the Dolphins knocking on the door from the 1-yard line, who burst through and not only sacked Fiedler for a 12-yard loss, but knocked him out of the game with a rib injury as well.

     "We kept them off the board," he said. "That's more important than anything.

     Like the rest of the team, Harrison paused to reflect on the accomplishment of winning 19 straight games.

     "You're used to shifting your focus immediately to next week, and you don't usually get a chance to enjoy it too much when you win," he said. "But I'm going to take today to enjoy this one."

     Harrison admitted that before the game, the defensive backs got together and vowed to win the game and set the record.

     "We all got together and said 'let's get this record,'" he said.

     But while the streak was certainly on the Patriots' minds, it wasn't on Harrison's mind when the Dolphins had a first-and-goal from the one-yard line with just over two minutes to go in the game.

     "Are you kidding?" he asked. "We just wanted to keep them out of the end zone. Never mind the streak."

     The Patriots got into the jam because they gave up the one big pass play they allowed all day - a 44-yard sideline pass from Fiedler to Marty Booker. Some of the Dolphins thought Booker was in, but coach Dave Wannstedt said that he couldn't see for sure. Also, the Dolphins were out of timeouts anyway, and the officials don't take over the review process directly until there are two minutes or less to go.

     The Patriots stopped Fiedler on the first play, and then Harrison burst through on a blitz to knock Fiedler back 12 yards.

     "All I wanted to do was separate him from the balll," Harrison said. "I couldn't do that, but at least I got him."

     After two more incomplete passes, the Pats took over on downs and ran out the clock.

     "I think we're all proud of what we accomplished," said Brady. "But at the same time, all it means is that we're 4-0. We have to get back to work, and we have to do better next week if we're going to beat (the Seattle Seahawks)."

The Daily Item of Lynn: More Coverage > Pats make NFL history with 19th consecutive win

Patriots defense dominates Dolphins

Michael Parente 10/11/04

FOXBORO -- Tedy Bruschi couldn’t believe it when he heard his teammates dumped a bucket of water on head coach Bill Belichick’s head following the New England Patriots’ 24-10 win over Miami on Sunday.

"They did what?" Bruschi asked with a shocked expression on his face.

 

After dodging questions all week about their record-setting win streak, the Patriots somehow managed to surprise themselves in the aftermath of their historic win over the Dolphins. New England has now won 19 consecutive games dating back to last September - the longest win streak in the 86-year history of the NFL.

"It is always good to be a part of history and doing something that no team in the league has ever done," said defensive end Richard Seymour, who helped douse Belichick after the game.The Patriots struggled offensively with three of their receivers out of the lineup - but the defense dominated against the hapless Dolphins. New England built a 10-0 lead in the first half and held off three potential scoring drives in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

"We’re glad to come out on top," Belichick said. "I told our players they should be proud of what they accomplished."

Patriots’ Tom Brady only threw for 76 yards, but he completed a pair of touchdown passes in the first half to put the Dolphins in an early 10-point deficit.

As usual, the Patriots did the little things -- first-year cornerback Randall Gay intercepted a pass and little-used running back Rabih Abdullah scored his first career touchdown in the second half. The Patriots even closed the game with a goal-line stand and knocked starting quarterback Jay Fiedler out of the game with a rib injury.

"We didn’t want to give up those points," safety Rodney Harrison said. "It was just a matter of pride. The guys just came up with big plays time and time again and that’s the character of this team."

Amidst the celebration and reflection following the game, the Patriots made it clear that they’re not satisfied with simply breaking an NFL record. The streak won’t mean a thing if they don’t win another Super Bowl, but for now, their focus is on next week’s game against Seattle.

The Call

Streaking Pats

BY MARK FARINELLA / SUN CHRONICLE STAFF

Bill Belichick had no choice but to acknowledge what his team had accomplished Sunday. He was soaking wet because of it.

Given the slightly cliched Gatorade shower by his players after the Patriots' 24-10 triumph over the Miami Dolphins, the head coach became equally immersed -- at least by his standards -- in historical perspective during his post-game comments.

``I told our team after the game that I was really proud of what they did,'' Belichick said. ``I thought they should be proud of what they accomplished, what no other team in pro football has done ... but that being said, that's not what our goal is.''

The goal, as he has said several times during this incredible run of 19 straight victories, is to keep winning -- to keep preparing for each foe as if it is the toughest opponent the Patriots will ever face, and to meet the challenges one play, one series, one quarter and one game at a time.

``That was nice to hear from Bill,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi said in an upbeat locker room after the Patriots established a new NFL standard for consecutive victories, including playoff games.

``He acknowledged it and we all acknowledged it as a team after the game. But ask me Wednesday, and we won't be saying anything about it. It will all be about Seattle.''

Indeed, the unbeaten Seattle Seahawks will visit Foxboro next Sunday, and will get the Patriots' undivided attention once practice begins anew at midweek. But in the meantime, Belichick gave his charges permission to enjoy the fact that in the more than eight decades that the NFL has been in existence, no other team has ever won 19 straight games.

They can enjoy it within limits, that is.

``I know what he was saying,'' said Bruschi, in his ninth NFL season. ``You can read inbetween Bill's lines sometimes. I've been around him so much, it's, `enjoy it now, but don't even say a word about it Wednesday because we're going to get ready to play Seattle.'

``We've strung them together and we've had a one-game-at-a-time mantra, but it just happened to be that way,'' he said. ``That's the way we've looked at it and I think that's why we've succeeded the way we have, because we don't look at streaks, we look at opponents.''

Perhaps for the first time since The Streak began last Oct. 5 against Tennessee, some Patriots afforded themselves the opportunity to assess their place in history after putting the finishing touches on the 0-5 Dolphins.

``Until you break the record, it's no big deal,'' defensive end Richard Seymour said. ``But (Belichick) acknowledged it, and to do something that no other team has done is great. Still, he knows, we know and everyone else knows that there's still an awful lot of football to be played.''

In the joyous atmosphere of victory, several players admitted that their stone-faced head coach might have been wound a little more tightly than usual, and ran a tighter ship as a result, in the week leading to Sunday's game.

``That's just if you let Bill get to you,'' cornerback Ty Law said. ``It was just another week for myself, and Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and those guys who've been around would say the same thing. Some of these rookies, it's probably different for those guys.

``It's a matter of staying focused,'' Law said. ``I think he knows what he's going to get out of us, but he has to coach everybody the same way, so that strikes a little bit of fear into the young guys.''

``He was a little tight this week,'' Seymour added. ``He definitely wanted to win this game, to go down as one of the great coaches in history. You think about the great coaches in this league, his name will be right there at the top.''

As it turned out, the Patriots had to earn their milestone victory. With three wide receivers on the inactive list due to injuries, and the offense sputtering late in the game after running back Corey Dillon's left ankle was tweaked at the end of a 36-yard run, it was up to the defense to save the day against a Miami team that just wouldn't quit.

The Dolphins made three fourth-quarter incursions into the red zone and two trips inside the Patriots' 15, but hard-nosed defensive plays -- including hits that chased both Miami quarterbacks from the game -- ensured the triumph.

In the short amount of time between the final gun and the post-game interviews, the players didn't have a lot of time to let their accomplishment sink in. Some even admitted that they might not take a good look at what they've done for some time.

``Not at this point,'' Seymour said. ``Maybe a couple of years down the road I can look back at it and have more of a perspective on it. But at this point, we're still in the midst of it.

``It will always be something that you can tell your kids about, and something that no one can take away,'' he said.

``I'm going to hold onto this,'' Bruschi said. ``I'm going to hold onto it when I'm done, because during the season, the only milestone a team wants is the Super Bowl.

``I won't keep any souvenirs from it,'' he added, ``but I'll just remember that we achieved something and realize that the formula, how we got here, was simple. It's just focusing on practices and taking it step by step.''

The Sun Chronicle Newspaper

Truth about streak pours out
By Kevin Mannix/ The NFL
Monday, October 11, 2004

FOXBORO - Nah, the Patriots [stats, news] weren't paying any attention at all to the possibility of their making NFL history with a 19th consecutive victory.

     It was just of interest to the media. Didn't mean a thing to the players. It didn't come at the end of the season and it didn't result in the team winning a championship. Yesterday brought just another victory in a game that was not particularly well-played but was memorable because it gave the Pats a 4-0 record for the season, 2-0 in the division.

     What's to celebrate? It's only the fourth game of the year.

     That, at least, was the pregame approach in the Pats locker room.

     Their postgame actions spoke a lot louder than the pregame comments.

     Rodney Harrison [news] and Richard Seymour [news] celebrated the 24-10 victory over the winless Dolphins by dumping a giant bucket of water on Bill Belichick [news], who had stayed dry after two Super Bowl victories. Not yesterday. He took a torrential postgame dousing from his two All-Pro defensive players.

     ``We took the (it's only one game) approach going into the game,'' Seymour said. ``When it was over, we were part of history, that's great. It's great to be part of history and we understood that as the clock ran out. What we did came naturally. And he didn't gripe for a minute. He's at the top of the list of coaches in this game and we wanted to celebrate going into history.

     ``Starting tomorrow, we're back on track. All that matters is Seattle (next week).''

     Harrison heaped praise on Belichick. ``We just wanted to express our congratulations to the coach,'' he said. ``He's the leader of this ship - the captain who has led us to these victories. We did what we did to show him it was OK to loosen up a little bit and enjoy it. We wanted to tell him, `Congratulations. You're the one who coached us to this.' ''
 

     After the game and his dousing, it was Belichick's turn to acknowledge the obvious: He is not oblivious to accomplishments that occur in the course of a championship run.

     ``I did tell the team that I was proud of what they did, and that they could be proud of what they accomplished, and that no other team in pro football has done that,'' he said of the streak during his post-game press conference.

     One of the most adamant ``it's only one regular-season game'' proponents during the week was Tedy Bruschi [news], who was stunned when he was told of Belichick's dunking after the game.

     ``They really did that?'' the veteran linebacker said. ``I didn't expect anything like that because Bill was particularly moody this week. A celebration like that is not characteristic of this team but we're indulging ourselves a little bit.''

     Bruschi also admitted that for all his public denials, he did allow himself to think about his team's position to surpass the 18-game winning streaks of the Bears (1933-34 and 1940-41), Dolphins (1972-73), 49ers (1989-90) and Broncos (1997-98).

     ``To be honest, this was the only week (the streak) was on my mind,'' he said. ``I guess it's because this was the one game that gave us a chance to break it. It's always been out there, but we never really cared about it because it wasn't right there in front of us.

     ``Going into this game, it was right there. All of us realized that we were in position to do something really special, and we wanted to go do it. But we also know that it's 19 in a row, not 19-0. We've only won four games this year.

     ``This isn't a championship but it's something we can hold on to today. Just don't ask me about it tomorrow.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Truth about streak pours out

Monday, October 11, 2004

Patriots' 19th win in a row remarkable, if not pretty

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Bill Belichick walked off the field at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon, his brown hair and red hooded sweatshirt soaked with Gatorade.

Belichick's New England Patriots had just beaten the woebegone Miami Dolphins 24-10 for their 19th consecutive victory, a pro football record.

As the game wound down, Patriots defensive players Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour took a bucket of Gatorade and, in a rare display of celebration for this team, dumped it on Belichick.

"Yeah, that was a little uncharacteristic of us," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We're indulging ourselves a little."

Then, as soon as he realized what he said, Bruschi added, "It will stop soon."

Like today.

It will again be business as usual for the undefeated Patriots, who haven't lost a game since Sept. 28, 2003. They have a home game next Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks in what many consider a preview of the Super Bowl.

But while they could, the Patriots, who entered the game tied with six other teams at 18 games, soaked in the glory of a remarkable record. When you consider what happened Sunday, with Detroit going into Atlanta and beating the previously undefeated Falcons, and Tampa Bay winning in New Orleans for its first victory of the season, the Patriots' streak is truly remarkable.

And they know that.

"Any time you can be part of history, that's great," Seymour said. "It's something that no other team in the history of the league has done. When you go back to all the great football teams, go back to the Green Bay Packers, the Steelers ... you talk about the Steel Curtain and everything they stood for ... I think we're right up there with those guys as far as consecutive wins.

"We have to pay our respect to all the guys who came before us who had 18 in a row. Records are made to be broken and we broke it."

Like many of the Patriots' previous 18 wins, this one was not especially pretty.

The offense struggled against a pretty good Miami defense -- although quarterback Tom Brady threw for two touchdowns, he completed only seven passes for 76 yards -- but the Patriots defense made enough big plays to secure the victory. Twice in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins drove inside the Patriots' 15-yard line; twice they didn't score a point.

Harrison stopped the first drive by breaking up a pass to Randy McMichael on fourth-and-15 from the 15. He effectively ended the second drive when he blitzed from the left on second-and-goal from the 1 and sacked quarterback Jay Fiedler for a 12-yard loss, knocking Fiedler out of the game in the process.

"A lot of games that we've won have been won the same way," Belichick said. "Guys, players, have made plays at key times in the game and they come from all different units and different types of players.

"Today we had a couple of big stands defensively and got some points early. It comes in different forms, there's no set formula. You just try to play better than your opponent and fortunately we were able to do that today."

http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/1054214.shtml

This week's Notes and Quotes: 10/11/04

On Feeling a Loss:

As a third-round draft choice of the Patriots in 1996, linebacker Tedy Bruschi has only had to endure one losing season as a pro, Bill Belichick's first year as head coach in 2000. Like today's Dolphins, those Patriots stumbled to an 0-4 start. Enduring another four-game losing streak, they finished 5-11 that year.

"You never think that (it's over)," said Bruschi. "Even when we were struggling and went 5-11 that one year, you never think you're out of it. It's just the mentality you have as an athlete that we can come back. We can do this. I know it's in this locker room. The attitude I have is, no matter the situation, no matter the score, we can come back."

In the aftermath of their latest loss, 17-9, to the Jets last Sunday, Bruschi figures that feeling came over the Dolphins once again late Wednesday afternoon.

"When you lose, it stays with you for a while, but after Wednesday's practice, you start to feel a little bit better because that's when you start to prepare for another team," said Bruschi. "You've got a practice under your belt and you're saying, 'OK. We can get these guys.' "

The Enterprise at SouthofBoston.com

On Playing for the Patriots

What the Patriots have done almost as well as coaching their established players is developing talent -- and paying below-market prices to keep it. Top left tackles command more than $6 million a year; last week Matt Light, one of the top 10 players at his position, signed a six-year, $27 million deal. "It's going to be great playing with these guys for the next few years," Light says. "It's not always about being the highest-paid guy." Bruschi, one of the best defensive playmakers and leaders in the game, could have become a free agent after this season, but in June he signed a four-year, $8.12 million extension. That deal would make him the 12th highest-paid player on the Cincinnati Bengals. He doesn't care.

"You turn on the TV and watch the highlights," says Bruschi, "and you see a bunch of individuals making plays and celebrating as individuals. We don't play to make highlight shows. Watch how we celebrate -- with our teammates. Always. You play the game to be on a team like this. Our attitude is we don't want to be good one to 22. We want to be good one to 53."

SI.com - SI Exclusive - Peter King: A League of Their Own - Tuesday October 12, 2004 2:11PM

SEAHAWKS/NFL

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Up Next: New England Patriots

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER STAFF

UNSUNG HERO: Tedy Bruschi. This guy means so much to the Patriots defense his teammates should chip in and buy him the second "d" for his first name. Three Patriots defenders went to the Pro Bowl last season -- cornerback Ty Law, linebacker Willie McGinest and tackle Richard Seymour. But Bruschi, the scrappy inside linebacker, is the glue that holds the unit together.

Up Next: New England Patriots

  Pats rush to greatness
By Kevin Mannix/ Report Card
Tuesday, October 12, 2004

LINEBACKERS: B
 

     Tedy Bruschi led the way again. He had only five tackles but also contributed two deflections, one on the Dolphins final play. Ted Johnson [news] cemented his role as the starter alongside Bruschi with seven more tackles (he had 11 in Buffalo) including one that kept Fiedler out of the end zone on a quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter.  Mike Vrabel [news] and Willie McGinest [news] were fairly quiet, with one tackle and one assist apiece, but Vrabel made a big play in holding his position to prevent a big play on a reverse. He didn't make the tackle on Chris Chambers (Asante Samuel [news] did) but he made the play possible by not following the fake, forcing Chambers outside. Rosevelt Colvin had lengthy periods of invisibility but occasionally showed the old-time burst when allowed to rush the passer.
 

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Pats rush to greatness

 

"It's funny because we refer to our winning streak as a one-game winning streak 19 straight times," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said.

 

 

Tedy Ballgame
Bruschi — husband, father and football player, consistently makes big, game-changing plays for Pats
By Bryan Morry

He is the consummate Patriot — the blue-collar guy New Englanders worship for the full-tilt, full-time style that has become his staple. If he once was considered an over-achieving type, now he is simply an achieving type. Achieving as in big plays and big decisions. Smart ones, too. That’s Tedy Bruschi’s life in 2004 as a football player, husband, father and person, in no particular order.

Bill Belichick likens his players to stockholders knowing the dividends they receive are directly related to their commitment. He uses that terminology when discussing leadership, and Bruschi is certainly one of the players driving the float in the parade while others stand, wave and look pretty for the cheering fans as it passes by.

To be sure, Bruschi adores his fans. He has a fan club that he recognizes after every home game. Randy “Zip” Pierce, the Cardozas, ’Bama and the like all don their “54” shirts to cheer on the Patriots from near or far. In some sense, he is their Patriots pied piper, a West Coast guy who fits into the East Coast fabric. One gets the feeling, though, that Bruschi is cut from a cloth that would blend nicely in any region’s fabric.

He plays hard and makes hard plays look easy. Whether diving through to halt a running back looking to pick up a critical yard or snaring a football out of the air at short range, Bruschi’s underrated athleticism and instincts are on full display when he steps on the field.

Listen to Belichick, who’s seen a few decent linebackers in his time, explain the Bruschi phenomenon:

“I think there are certain players that sometimes you can’t even find the right word or the right identification, but you just know that they are playmakers. They have an instinct for the ball or an instinct for the situation. They just seem to make the right decision at the right time. Tedy is one of those players.

“He’s been a high producer at every level of football he’s ever played regardless of his position. He’s the type of guy you want on the field in every situation and the type you have a lot of confidence in. He finds a way to get it done with his own unique playing style that’s not always the most conventional. He has quickness, balance and some deception to him. He’s very productive. He’s a great guy to coach. He’s a football player.”

His development as a player exceeds the boundaries of his ballyhooed change from a rushing down lineman to a versatile linebacker. With experience has come wisdom and leadership.

He leads both vocally and by example, which makes him easy to follow. He does what he says and says what he does. It’s a quality he also brings to fatherhood.

Bruschi and his wife, Heidi, have two boys, Tedy Jr. and Rex, and Dad leads his boys the same way he might a young football player looking to him for guidance.

“It’s easy to say you want to be a role model and say you want to do the right things,” Bruschi said. “But I look at it as I want my kids to be proud of me. I want to be able to say to them, ‘These are the decisions that I’m making so that’s why I’m telling you.’ I don’t want to be making wrong decisions and going around telling them, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ I don’t like that saying.”

It’s a quality that came with maturity, becoming a husband and bringing children into the world. Bruschi, like most, had his moments that he won’t discuss. He refers to those as his “wild days” when quizzed.

“There was a point in my life where I was as reckless off the field as I was on,” he said while laughing as if he can’t believe some of the things he did back then, whenever “then” was and whatever the “things” were. “I’m talking college and my initial years here. I could bring up examples but I won’t because it was a long time ago. I had my crazy times and they’re over.

“I think we all [had those times] at one point in our lives. But I think there comes a point in your life where you have to make decisions as to what you want to be, and I decided a while back that I wanted to be a good father and a good husband.

“There are phases of life where you mature as a person and your role as an individual changes and you have to make the decision to say, ‘Hey, I’m ready to leave this phase behind and move on.’ Those are decisions I’ve been making since the end of my college career and coming out here to New England where I didn’t want to be a college guy my entire life. I said, ‘Let’s leave that behind now.’ I have a great wife at home and a couple of kids. So who do I want to be? I want to be a father and a family man.”

He’s also a private man. He’s not flashy like Ty Law or sowing his oats in the public’s eye like Tom Brady. He’s not the Grizzly Adams type like Matt Light or the practical joker like Mike Vrabel. But he could probably fit into any one of those categories while simply being Tedy Bruschi.

Ultimately, he is one of them and they are like him. Personalities and preferences aside, they all come to work together to be a football team with one common goal that wins largely because of the unselfishness of good, solid players. They understand the need for talent, but their boasting isn’t done with words, but rather deeds. Or maybe in big plays by big-time playmakers, who make them within the concept of a team defense rather than in one that relies merely on a few individual stars.

Count Bruschi among those playmakers. He’s always known and accepted his role, one that has grown steadily as he has gained experience and demonstrated the ability to handle more and excel within his responsibilities.

A college defensive lineman, Bruschi developed into an NFL linebacker who started as a pass rush specialist and morphed into a complete player and one of the better inside linebackers in the NFL. He was able to handle the move and shine in his new position because of his athleticism, work ethic, intelligence and most of all, his football instincts. Glimpses of those instincts came early. In spot playing time as a rookie in 1996, Bruschi made some standout plays.

He scored his first touchdown at any level when he recovered a Larry Whigham blocked punt for a score in a win over the Baltimore Ravens in 1996. He intercepted a Mark Brunell pass in the AFC Championship Game that season and sacked Brett Favre twice in Super Bowl XXXI.

“Those are big plays that I remember because that’s all you try to do is help the team when you come in,” Bruschi said in reference to his rookie season.

Belichick, who was a Patriots assistant in 1996, also recalls the sentiment surrounding Bruschi on draft weekend. “I remember when we sat in the draft room and took him. The conversation was, ‘Look, we’re taking him. We’re taking a good football player. We don’t know what we’re going to do with him exactly, but we figure we’ll find something.’ He was a third-round pick, a significant pick. It was clear pretty quickly that, not only was he going to make our football team, but he was going to help our football team and he did in his rookie year in 1996,” Belichick said.

While glimpses of the playmaking ability he showed as a fierce college pass rusher showed up occasionally early in his NFL career, it wasn’t until he gained more significant playing time that he truly and consistently started showing a knack for big plays at big times. That came in 1999, his fourth season in the league, when he started 14 games.

His first career regular season interception came that year in a loss at Philadelphia, but it was a sign of things to come. Since then, he’s picked off seven passes and is the only player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for touchdowns during a stretch that spanned from the last half of 2002 through the latter stages of 2003.

The first came in Oakland when a Rich Gannon pass deflected off Lawyer Milloy’s foot to Bruschi, who raced 48 yards for the touchdown in a 27-20 loss that wasn’t that close.

Two weeks later, on Nov. 28, 2002, he made the play he lists as the most memorable individual play of his career not only because of its impact, but also because it, in some sense, validated his move from star college defensive lineman to star-in-the-making NFL linebacker.

“Thanksgiving. Detroit,” he said without hesitation referring to a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 20-12 Patriots win. “That culminates my entire voyage as a football player. At the start of that play, I was a blitzer. And that’s all I was in the beginning of my pro career. On that play, I initially started to go after the passer, which was Step 1 of the play. Step 2 was reading the protection, which is a skill that took me a couple of years to learn. Then when I got that read, I had to pop into coverage. That was the third step, dropping back, which also is something I had to learn to do as a linebacker. The fourth phase of the play was going back to the quarterback, seeing where he was going to throw the ball, seeing it in the air, picking it off and taking it to the house. That was sort of the latest development I’d been trying to make — turning an average play into a game-changing play.”

He’s been making those plays ever since. While he missed the four games following that Detroit game with a knee injury suffered that day, he picked up last year where he left off in 2002.

Two games into the 2003 season, Bruschi snared a Donovan McNabb pass and strolled 18 yards into the end zone to ice a win over the Eagles. His fourth consecutive return for a touchdown came Dec. 7, 2003, when he broke open a 3-0 fourth quarter Patriots lead over Miami by intercepting Jay Fiedler and gliding 5 yards into the end zone for a touchdown that set off a seemingly coordinated yet surreal snow fireworks display that will live forever in Patriots lore.

“There wasn’t a defensive line element to that particular play,” Bruschi said, explaining the difference between the Miami interception and the one in Detroit in 2002. “I wasn’t rushing the passer. I was just in man-to-man coverage with the running back and read the quarterback,” he added to point out the more simplistic nature of his responsibility.

His string of four straight touchdown returns was broken two weeks after the Miami game when he picked off Chad Pennington and was tackled after a 3-yard gain. While he didn’t score on the play, wideout David Givens did one play later when Tom Brady hit him for a 35-yard touchdown.

Of his four touchdowns, Bruschi said, “I can hold on to that. I don’t think anyone else has ever done that.”

Bruschi increased his interception total to nine in Week 1 of this season, eight of which have come in the last three-plus seasons, as he has emerged from a situational player to a full-tilt, full-timer.

“It just comes down to having your coverage responsibility taken care of,” Bruschi explained regarding his knack for interceptions. “I do that first and foremost. I periph the situation around me to look for different colored jerseys and where they are. And then the quarterback read is a big part of it too. When you realize your responsibility is taken care of, you go back to the quarterback and read him and anticipate where he’s going to throw. That’s when you have your chances.”

He did just that in the Sept. 9 season-opening win over the Colts at Gillette Stadium. With Indianapolis driving to a sure score on its opening possession and facing a second-and-goal from the 6, Bruschi spoiled their party.

Peyton Manning predictably dropped back to pass and fired a throw into Bruschi’s fully extended hands for a drive-thwarting pick.

“I was in zone coverage and I was in my area and saw Peyton looking to my left,” Bruschi explained. “So I drifted that way and he put the ball out there and I had to dive for that one. That was a tough catch to make, but that’s when Pepper Johnson’s on-the-line drills helped me out a lot.”

Bruschi is as big a beneficiary of that drill as any player. It’s one that features Pepper Johnson firing passes at linebackers from close range much the way they would be in a quarterback’s line of fire positioned just behind the defensive line.

But there was no drill to help him break open the Oct. 3 win over the Bills in Buffalo. It was just pure instinct, playmaking ability and a little luck that helped him make the play that clinched the Patriots 18th straight win.

With the Bills trailing by seven with 2:59 remaining in the game, they faced a fourth-and-three situation from the Patriots 17-yard line. Buffalo called a play-action fake on which quarterback Drew Bledsoe was supposed to keep the ball and bootleg around the end in hopes of picking up first down yardage.

But the Patriots, and Bruschi, were playing pass all the way and as Bruschi burst through the line, he ignored the fake to Travis Henry, who also blew up the play by running to the wrong side of the quarterback, and hit Bledsoe while knocking the ball free for Richard Seymour to scoop and score after rumbling 68 yards to cement the win.

“It was a terrible fake and the running back went the wrong way,” Bruschi said. “I try to prepare myself physically so that if I’m in those situations, my body will respond. I was able to make a nice cut that changed my direction, went to the quarterback and knocked the ball out.”

It was just another in a long line of big plays for the one-time defensive lineman, but now Pro Bowl-caliber middle linebacker.

In a sense, Bruschi personifies the Patriots. He is not your prototype inside linebacker. He is not the fastest guy or even the strongest. He is perhaps the Troy Brown of the defense, which is to say he is a player who gets the most out of his ability and then gets more.

“I’m not super fast,” Bruschi admitted. “I have a good burst, but my main asset will always be my intelligence and my instincts. I don’t think you can develop instincts. I think you can look at a guy over a few practices and a few games and see if he’s got it. But you have instincts or you don’t. In certain situations, they take over.”

They certainly take over for Bruschi in the numerous short-yardage situations on which he has stuffed an opposing runner at a critical time. Go back to last year’s goal line stand in Indianapolis. Willie McGinest and Ted Washington earned all the attention for the fourth down stop of Edgerrin James, but Bruschi was in on the stuffs on both first and second down.

Then there was the Dallas game last year when he blew through the line to bury Troy Hambrick on a fourth-and-one play early in the fourth quarter that demoralized the Cowboys in a 12-0 Patriots win.

The Snow Bowl? The tuck rule and Adam Vinatieri’s amazing field goal are what most remember, and rightfully so, but Bruschi was one of the defenders that made those events possible. With 2:24 to go in that game, Oakland faced a third-and-one while holding a 13-10 lead. A first down there and the Patriots season is over. Zack Crockett took the hand-off from Rich Gannon and was stuffed. A scan of the play-by-play reveals Ty Law and Tedy Bruschi as the Crockett-stuffing game savers.

He did it in Chicago in an amazing comeback win over the Bears in 2002. The Patriots trailed 30-25 with 2:46 to go without the ball. On first-and-10, Chicago’s Anthony Thomas ran for 9 yards, all but ending the Patriots hope of a miracle comeback. On second down, Willie McGinest stopped Thomas for no gain and on third, it was Bruschi firing through and derailing the A-Train for a 1-yard loss. The Patriots of course, won on a Tom Brady to David Patten touchdown pass with :28 left.

Belichick lauded Bruschi’s ability to consistently make those types of game-impacting plays. “I think it’s a function of, number one, preparation,” Belichick said. “But number two is quickness and instincts. As a middle linebacker, you don’t have much time to react. You have 10 or 15 guys moving in front of you and you have a split second to see it and react. To me, the best linebackers are the guys that can quickly recognize the situation and then instantly and decisively hit it. When they do that, they are able to get through before an offensive lineman or the back can account for them. Every once in a while, they may go flying through and end up picking themselves up off the ground. But that’s the way they play. They might get it a couple of times, but the opponent will get them a couple of times.

“Others play it more conservatively and won’t make as many of those plays, but won’t get caught out of position as much. But those good linebackers, the Ray Lewises, the Bruschis and guys like that, have instincts, quickness and a suddenness that when they see it, they can move in a short area explosively and in a hurry,” Belichick said.

Bruschi sees those situations as do-or-die types and he lives for them.

“There comes a time and a situation in a game when you just have to go for it,” Bruschi began. “There are other times when you have to play more conservatively depending on the situation. When it comes down to, ‘this is the game,’ you have to know when that is. If we stop them, we’re going to win and if we don’t, we could lose. That’s when the antenna has to go up. I love that. Ever since college when we had a great defense, the Desert Swarm defense in Arizona, we developed an attitude where if the game was on the line, we wanted the defense on the field to make the stop. We have that here.”

Bruschi isn’t the only Patriots defender with that mentality, but he is at least partially responsible for its presence in his teammates’ minds. He is indeed full-tilt, full-time and his style, along with that of other veterans like Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour, rubs off on others. It’s leadership through effort and production. It’s a life lived in white-collar fashion earned with down-and-dirty, roll-up-you-sleeves, expend every ounce of energy blue-collar effort.

That’s Tedy Bruschi. No longer the reckless youngster, Bruschi made the choice to be what he is — a husband, a father and big-time playmaker.

This week's Notes and Quotes: 10/19/04

By Kevin Mannix/ Report Card
Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Linebackers – B

  In addition to his interception, McGinest created a sack on the game's first play, chasing down Hasselbeck and making it possible for Warren to record the sack. Tedy Bruschi [news] had a quietly productive afternoon with eight tackles while Mike Vrabel [news] contributed in several areas, as usual. He had seven tackles, a sack, a pass deflection and several pressures.

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Different team, same fate

On Crowd Noise at Gillette:

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi said that the fourth quarter of Sunday's game was prime screaming time for the fans.  "It got pretty loud," he said. "It got deafening there for a while, and when our fans want to get into it, they can. We haven't lost in a while, so I like the atmosphere. Our fans know football, and when they see we need some noise, they're there for us."

projo.com | Providence, R.I. | Patriots

Few kings have ruled like the Pats
By BOB DICESARE

New England's winning culture has become so alluring that players are doing the unthinkable: They're turning their backs on greener pastures to remain with the Pats. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi and left tackle Matt Light signed contract extensions for significantly less money than would have been available elsewhere. The Patriots have no salary cap problems, remain oblivious to urgency that leads so many of their counterparts to spend for today only to regret it tomorrow. They'll gladly whip your high-priced free agent with an undrafted nobody.

Full article: Buffalo News - Few kings have ruled like the Pats

On Curtis Martin:

"Only [seven] other guys who ever played can say they're better than him," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Monday. "I can't talk to you on an educated level about Jim Brown or Walter Payton, but to me, Curtis has been one of the best around. "It doesn't surprise me what he's done since he left here because I knew his work ethic and his mentality. I think he works even harder when people doubt him the way they have the last couple of years. I see how aggressively he's playing and the way he's finishing runs. He's getting up all fired up. He's not flashy. He's not talking or on the highlight shows, but Curtis has some hidden agendas. He wants to be the best there ever was. He's not as flashy as some guys, he just works and works," Bruschi said. "And he gains yards."

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Jets' Martin finally making a statement

On Keeping Seattle out of the EZ:

"At that point, our guys were so up (emotionally)," said Bruschi. "Everybody was talking about, 'No score! No score!' We didn't care what they did, we weren't going to let them in."

The Enterprise at SouthofBoston.com

On the Jets:

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi said he's as concerned about the Jets as any opponent he's faced in the recent past. And that includes the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.  "This team doesn't do anything wrong," Bruschi said of the Jets. "We're going to have to be at the top of our game to have a chance."

New York City - Football

Patriots heat up in red zone

By HOWARD ULMAN

AP Sports Writer

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) — New England’s defenders let Seattle march down the field. Just 12 seconds remained and the Seahawks had a first down at the Patriots 2-yard line.

In the defensive huddle, the message was clear: "No score. We don’t care what they do, we’re not going to let them in," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said.

And they didn’t.

Matt Hasselbeck threw two incompletions, a penalty moved the ball to the 1, and the Patriots stopped Mack Strong for no gain on the final play then ran off the field with a 30-20 win Sunday, their NFL record 20th consecutive victory.

It didn’t matter to the Patriots that Seattle couldn’t have won the game even with a touchdown on the last drive. The end zone is their territory and they’ll defend it no matter what the situation.

On their five trips into the New England red zone inside the 20, the Seahawks managed just three field goals and a touchdown.

"That last red zone stand on the goal line was huge for us," strong safety Rodney Harrison said. "It just showed people that, regardless of the score, we’re going to continue to play to the end."

The Patriots defense started brilliantly with interceptions on Seattle’s first two series that led to a 10-0 lead. It was 17-0 early in the second quarter and 20-6 at halftime.

But with 11:05 left in the game, New England couldn’t stop Seattle after the Seahawks’ Michael Boulware intercepted Tom Brady’s pass. That drive ended in Shaun Alexander’s 9-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion that made it 20-17.

It was 23-17 when Seattle started at its 26-yard line and moved all the way to a first down at New England’s 13. Then a 2-yard loss on a complete pass and two penalties forced the Seahawks to settle for a field goal.

The Patriots held Seattle to field goals on three series that went inside the 20 and another that reached the 22. So the Seahawks scored just 12 points on the kicks rather than 28 had each drive ended in a touchdown and extra point.

"That’s the difference of 16 points," Harrison said. "That definitely changed the outcome of the game."

New England (5-0) has allowed just 16.1 points per game this season and played well defending its goal line.

"We weren’t very good last year in the red zone so that was a point of emphasis in the offseason," Harrison said. "If you can’t stop them from scoring, at least hold them to three points."

The Patriots have allowed opponents to convert only 38 percent of their third-down plays into first downs.

Bruschi said it’s a matter of pride for the Patriots to keep teams out of the end zone, even, as with the Seahawks, it doesn’t affect the outcome.

"I guess they thought we were just going to let them have six points so we could get out of there," Bruschi said. "But, no. We’re not going to do that.

"We don’t care when it is, what the situation is. Getting in our end zone is going to be tough to do, and we want to send a message to everyone that it’s going to be tough."

Patriots heat up in red zone

Beat Report: Bruschi's status takes flight


Published 2:15 am PDT Sunday, October 24, 2004


New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who makes a habit of launching himself over offensive lines to disrupt offenses, earned the label of "Patriot Missile" in a spectacular photograph taken of him recently by Sports Illustrated.

New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, who faces the Patriots today, recalled with awe how the Roseville-reared Bruschi made an acrobatic interception against him last year, calling it one of the most remarkable plays he has seen in the NFL.

None of this fazes New England coach Bill Belichick. During a news conference leading up to today's AFC East battle for first with the Jets, Belichick said what sets Bruschi apart from most linebackers is his anticipation of where the ball is going with uncanny accuracy.

"I think Tedy makes a lot of plays on his instinctiveness as well as his athletic ability," Belichick said. "I don't think he would be the top-testing athlete of all time, (but) he is explosive (and) has the ability when he sees something to hit it with no hesitation."

Belichick said he has never really cautioned Bruschi, in his ninth year out of Arizona, about going airborne so much. The coach said it is a style Bruschi favors, though it isn't for everyone.

"There are plusses and minuses," Belichick said. "When you are in the air, you don't have any power. You are at the mercy of whatever you have been able to generate on the ground. On the ground, you have more power but maybe less ability to move or avoid somebody.

"I think Tedy is kind of loose-jointed and flexible and is able to take contact in different ways. Other guys are more rigid."

sacbee.com -- Sports -- Beat Report: Bruschi's status takes flight

Jets: A true-blue Patriot leaves it all on the field

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Kimberly Jones

Star-Ledger Staff

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Tedy Bruschi decided a long time ago, on the day he was drafted in 1996, that he wanted to remain with the Patriots.

Forever.

Loyalty means something to Bruschi, and all these years later, the transplanted Californian can't imagine turning his back on the fans who have bought and worn his No. 54 jersey. Can't imagine leaving behind teammates with whom he has sweated and bled and won two Super Bowls in the last three seasons.

Can't imagine cutting ties with the organization that drafted an undersized defensive end, switched his position and has supported his ascent to one of the NFL's better inside linebackers and, arguably, the league's most underrated player.

He just can't imagine taking his game-changing, big play-making act anywhere else.

"That's just who I am," Bruschi said.

So's this: A starter since midway through the 1998 season, the 6-1, 247-pound Bruschi is a special-teams regular who doesn't complain about that unglamorous part of the job.

"You want to have the attitude of doing everything you can to help your team win," he said. "Let's see more guys who say that go out and do it. I say I want to do everything to help my team win.

"I live by what I say. If you need me on a punt team, fine. If you need me on kickoff return, I'll do it."

And if you need him to make an interception that changes a game, that's fine, too.

In the first quarter of the season opener against the Colts, Bruschi made a diving interception of a Peyton Manning pass in particularly tight quarters -- at the Patriots' 1-yard line.

Considering the 27-24 final, it's no stretch to say Bruschi's play was instrumental in keeping alive what has become an NFL-record 20-game winning streak.

"If the situation calls for me to sell out my body," he said, "I'm going to."

That can mean blitzing, finding the perfect crease at the perfect time and hitting a quarterback with the force of a lineman, at least. In his former life as a defensive end at the University of Arizona, Bruschi didn't tie Derrick Thomas' Division 1-A sack record of 52 for nothing.

Three weeks ago against the Bills, Bruschi had two fourth-quarter sacks of Drew Bledsoe, one of which forced a fumble that defensive tackle Richard Seymour scooped up and returned for a touchdown. The Patriots' 31-17 victory was secured.

"Bruschi's always a guy who comes through, no matter what," said teammate Ty Law, the Pro Bowl cornerback.

And then there are the plays that combine all of Bruschi's gifts, his instincts, athletic ability, uncanny sense of timing.

In the Jets' most recent meeting with the Patriots on Dec. 20, quarterback Chad Pennington saw an apparently open tight end Anthony Becht on the second play from scrimmage. Bruschi, who was lurking in space and diagnosing the play, leapt as Pennington released the pass.

The ball found Bruschi. Or vice versa.

"It was," Pennington said, "one of the most unbelievable defensive plays I've ever seen."

Not quite game over, but it didn't get a whole lot better for the guys in green. Pennington threw four more interceptions that day. The Patriots won, 21-16.

"I was only about five yards from him when he threw it," Bruschi said. "I jumped up and just squeezed the ball. It happened real fast. It's one of those plays where the ball was just in the air and I took it."

Bruschi makes it sound so simple, mostly because he likes it that way. He is a lunch-bucket type of guy, a tireless worker who has no interest in personal glory but who embodies these Patriots as much as any player in the locker room.

Not only has Bruschi, 31, never been selected to the Pro Bowl, he doesn't care if he ever is.

"I don't have a goal to be called a Pro Bowl-caliber player," he said. "I've always had the goal to make myself a championship-caliber player, to make my main goal championships."

Safety Rodney Harrison has compared Bruschi to Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau, in both the tangible and intangible qualities he brings to the game and to his team. Harrison and Seau played together with the Chargers.

"If you put Bruschi at linebacker, he'll make plays that make you go, 'Wow,'" Law said. "I see him rush the passer as a down lineman and I wonder how this little guy beats those big boys up there. Whether it's with speed or with power, he finds a way to get the job done at all times."

Sometimes that means taking flight, soaring over a lineman or a running back, whoever is in his way.

"If you can't go to the left or the right and if they're big and you can't go through them, sometimes you've got to go over them," Bruschi said.

Outside linebacker Mike Vrabel has played with Bruschi since 2001. That doesn't mean he's used to his teammates' occasional high-wire act.

"If he comes in on a blitz and sees a guy standing there, he figures he's got a better chance of going over them than he does going through them," Vrabel said. "So Tedy will just go airborne. And you'll stop rushing sometimes. Because you'll see feet that are literally three or four feet above your head and you stop rushing, and it's Tedy."

Brushi has nine career interceptions -- his 2002-03 string of returning four consecutive interceptions for touchdowns is a first in NFL history -- and 22 1/2 career sacks.

Coach Bill Belichick says it's "a quickness and a suddenness," an explosiveness and a decisiveness that sets apart "those good linebackers, the Ray Lewises, the Bruschis and guys like that."

"But one of the things for me that kind of separates Tedy from other players is his instinctiveness, his anticipation and he has the ability, when he sees something, to hit it," Belichick said. "And it is with no hesitation."

Bruschi has little time for indecision. A devoted husband and father -- he and wife Heidi are expecting their third child -- Bruschi acts as his own agent, representing himself in contract negotiations.

He signed a contract extension in June: Four years, $8.1 million, including a $3.5 million signing bonus.

Critics squawked that he didn't get enough. Bruschi countered that he got what he wanted.

So Tedy Bruschi is a Patriot. Forever.

"He's a great player. He does a lot for this team," running back Corey Dillon said. "He's not underappreciated around here. Around here, he's the man."

'Backer to the basics: Johnson goes old school
By Kevin Mannix/ The NFL
Monday, October 25, 2004

FOXBORO - When the game ended, a pleasant wave of nostalgia struck Ted Johnson [news]. The smashmouth linebacker had just played in a smashmouth game. What's not to like about that.
 

     Not just because he had a team-high 10 tackles and forced a fumble. Not just because he and Tedy Bruschi [news] (who also had 10 tackles) had accomplished what seemed like an impossible mission. They had held Jets back Curtis Martin to a season-low 70 yards on 20 carries, with a long gain of 9 yards, a critical factor in the Pats' 13-7 victory here yesterday.

 

     Johnson and Bruschi took on offensive linemen and held their ground. Then they took on Martin and made their tackles.
 

     Which is nothing new. That's Johnson's game. He's had games like this before, most recently three weeks ago when he had 11 tackles in the victory over the Bills.
 

     What he appreciated in this game was the sense that he had turned back the clock. Today's game involves 220-pound linebackers whose forte is speed and quickness, not power, a necessity in today's game of quick passes, empty backfields and no fullbacks.
 

     Jonathan Vilma and London Fletcher are today's inside linebacker prototypes. The new game has limited the roles of the slobberknocker inside linebackers, who have become ``short yardage specialists.''
 

     Not so in yesterday's Patriots [stats, news] victory. The 6-foot-4, 253-pound Johnson was a full-time player and he responded, making the kind of plays that have highlighted his 10-year career.
 

     That's what he liked.
 

     ``I'm not going to lie to you,'' Johnson said. ``When I came in (the locker room) I had the feeling that I had just played some good old-fashioned football. They were testing our will with the run and kept pounding away to get some momentum going. That's football. It's about hitting and tackling and that's what was going on out there today.
 

     ``They were determined to pound Curtis at us and the fact that they were always within one score of us allowed them to keep it up. It's what I enjoy doing.''
 

     He always has. Johnson came into the league in 1995 as a second-round draft pick from Colorado with a background in the 3-4 defense. Martin came to the Pats the same year as a third-round pick, only to pack up and leave for the Jets as a restricted free agent in 1998.
 

     ``That's another part of this game that made it special,'' Johnson said with a smile. ``We came in together and there's a lot of history between us. He's a helluva back. I remember my first year in training camp. The first call I made to my old man was about having to try to cover Curtis one-on-one during passing drills. It was an impossible task.''
 

     That responsibility wasn't a factor yesterday since the Jets' plan was to run Martin, not throw to him (two catches for zero yards).
 

     The Pats' plan was to keep their former teammate from cutting up the field, capitalizing on their pursuit. That's how a 3-yard hole is turned into a 15-yard gain.
 

     ``With Ted and me it was a matter of remembering to stay in position,'' Bruschi pointed out. ``We know Curtis. We know his game. If we overpursue and both of us wind up on the same side of the center, we're in trouble. That's when Curtis will cut it back to where neither of us is and break down the field on the other side. Giving up 3 or 4 yards is better than 20.
 

     ``You know if you vacate your gap too soon, Curtis will see it and be gone.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: 'Backer to the basics: Johnson goes old school

This week's Notes and Quotes: 10/25/04

Patriots notebook: A new closer's in town
By Mike Reiss
Monday, October 25, 2004

    FOXBORO -- Keith Foulke might be the most popular closer in town, but ask Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi his choice and he's voting for running back Corey Dillon. Dillon continued to display the powerful dimension he adds to the Patriots' offense, helping seal yesterday's victory by rushing three straight times -- for 6, 2 and 4 yards -- as the Patriots ran out the clock without allowing the Jets to get the ball back.   "Corey is a defender's best friend," Bruschi said. "He can pound that ball for (6) yards on first down, then Richard Seymour comes in at fullback on third down, and they had a first down. You can sit down and drink some more Gatorade. It's a great thing to see."  Dillon finished with 115 yards on 22 carries for an impressive 5.2 average.   His 44-yard gain at the end of the third quarter helped shift the field position, and was his longest as a Patriot. Dillon now has three runs of 35 or more on the season. Last season, the Patriots had just one all season.

MetroWest Daily News - Sports Coverage

 

 

Another group of high grades for unbeaten Patriots

MICHAEL PARENTE, Sports Writer

LINEBACKERS: Everyone stepped up, including Ted Johnson, who had another big game with 10 tackles and a forced fumble. The linebackers collectively took advantage of the space they had to work with and did a great job stopping the run. Martin never got into a rhythm and the Jets were forced to use other options. Tedy Bruschi had 10 tackles and Mike Vrabel chipped in with five. McGinest combined with Seymour on that huge stop, which set up a fourth-and-9 that resulted in a turnover on downs for the Jets. Pennington picked apart the defense with lots of short passes, but the linebackers made sure the plays didn’t turn into long gains.

Overall grade: A

 

The Call

 

Game 6: Patriots 13, Jets 7

Monday, October 25, 2004

STAR OF THE GAME

 

Inside linebackers Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi were in on 10 tackles apiece as the Patriots defense controlled a potent Jets offense, especially in the second half.

Game 6: Patriots 13, Jets 7

 

Inspired defense carries the day

by DAVID PEVEAR, Sun Staff

FOXBORO Before one critical defensive play for the Patriots yesterday, a picture of Curt Schilling's surgically duct-taped right ankle appeared on the big video screens at each end of Gillette Stadium.

"Hey, that's 'ankle up,'" said a smiling Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who along with his defensive mates held the Jets scoreless in the second half while the Jets' defense was also holding the Patriots scoreless. "Whatever it was, it got our crowd fired up. We all know what's going on here. The Sox are in the Series. Let's cheer them on too."

Usually "Hell's Bells" by AC/DC being pumped through the Gillette Stadium sound system is enough to alert the sellout crowd of a critical defensive play ahead. But with the Jets going for it on fourth-and-inches from their own 23 with 6:55 to play, a still-photo of David Ortiz was posted on the video screens for inspiration.

Jets quarterback Chad Pennington still snuck two yards for a first down.

 

But Patriots strong safety Rodney Harrison, who eight plays later batted away a fourth-down pass intended for Wayne Chrebet to essentially seal the victory, thought this was New England's finest overall defensive performance of the season.

"They made plays up and down the field," said Harrison about the Jets' 268 total yards. "But they got in the end zone one time. And they do have a lot of weapons. So yes, (it was the Patriots' best defensive performance thus far in 2004)."

Bruschi credited crisp communication between defenders dealing with a Jets offense that uses a lot of motion and sends a lot of receivers into pass patterns. "They do a lot of things that make you communicate (on defense)," said Bruschi, "especially when you're playing here at home and the crowd is really loud and they're showing Schilling's ankle up there."21 and done

http://www.lowellsun.com/Stories/0,1413,105~4767~2490991,00.html

This week's Notes and Quotes: 10/25/04

So two streaks are over, 21 straight overall and 18 straight in the regular season.

"I think the reason we were able to win all those games is because we always knew losing was a possibility," New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi said.....

The Patriots have preached throughout their streak that they only worry about the game at hand. That philosophy will come in handy this week as they try to put yesterday's debacle in the past.

"I know how we'll respond," New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We'll come in ready to work and get ready for the next game. I think we'll respond favorably."

21 and done

 

Belichick does not provide information on injuries before he is required to do so by the league on Wednesdays. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi noted that the Patriots had key injuries last year, too, and they went on to win the Super Bowl.

"We've been through so much as a unit," he said. "Whoever goes down, we feel like whoever comes in can do the job, because that's what we've done in the past.

 http://cdn.aim.com/redirects/inclient/AIM_text.adp

Director has ball with Pats

PUNT PASS AND PITCH While shooting his first feature film, the frenetic remake of "Dawn of the Dead," director Zack Snyder learned a few things about strategically choreographed mayhem. So it was only a matter of time before he worked with the New England Patriots. The LA-based Snyder, 38, was in Foxborough last week shooting a Visa spot that'll debut later this month. (A veteran ad man, Snyder made a memorable Budweiser commercial featuring football-playing Clydesdales getting an officiating assist from a zebra.) Look for Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi, and nearly 20 other players in this spot. "The premise is the guys are all saying, 'Not in our house, baby!' " Snyder says. "And that leads into them basically getting to say what Visa can't -- 'You can't come into the stadium with any other credit card.' " (Well, it's the card of choice, anyway.) Snyder shot the spot on the same day "Dawn" came out on DVD, earning him some bonus cred with the players. He said he's still sorting through the footage to see how the joke will play. "They're like a whole bunch of De Niros out there," Snyder laughs. "They did great. But coach [Bill Belichick] does put the fear of God in them, I think: 'Don't make us look bad!' "

Boston.com / A&E / Celebrity news / Director has ball with Pats; Arroyo pitches in

 

"It's not weird at all (to lose), we knew it was a possibility every week," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "That's why we played so hard and prepared so hard every week. But a couple of things happened, a couple of mistakes ... and they were rolling."

Yahoo! News - Eagles Emerge As Lone Unbeaten NFL Team

 

On the Injury situation:

"We've been through so much as a unit," linebacker Tedy Bruschi says. "Whoever goes down, we feel like whoever comes in can do the job, because that's what we've done in the past."

 

"We're all good football players, we have confidence in each other and we trust each other," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We feel like we can get the job done. We've done it before, and we feel like that's what's going to happen this time."

 

Other guys have to step up, and guys do," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Monday. "The history we have here is guys go down, and we win."
 

Riddled Pats looking for few quick answers

By Glen Farley, Enterprise staff writer

FOXBORO — New England Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi admits that during injury-riddled times like this, there is a natural tendency for playmakers like him to place an extra burden on themselves.

"There is a little bit, but you really can't feel that way," Bruschi said Wednesday. "It's out there that we've got new guys in there so we've got to do more, but you've still got to focus on your responsibility.

"If you're a positional player, you've got one job to do, and that's your job, then you have confidence that the other guys are going to do their jobs, also. Once you start trying to do somebody else's job, you forget about your own job and you can't do that."

As it is, the Patriots' injury situation will force inexperienced players to attempt to do others' jobs this Sunday.

The Patriots head into this weekend's game with the St. Louis Rams inside the Edward Jones Dome without the services of starting left cornerback Ty Law, who broke a bone in his left foot during the first quarter of his team's 34-20 loss at Pittsburgh last Sunday.

The Patriots will also again be missing starting right cornerback Tyrone Poole, who has missed three of the last four games with a knee injury.

"I should be returning shortly," Poole said. "It won't be this week."

Yesterday's injury report ruled both Law and Poole out of Sunday's game.

"You'd like to have all the players healthy and ready to play," cornerback Asante Samuel said. "Unfortunately, it's not like that."

A fourth-round pick in the 2003 draft, Samuel will make his fourth start of the season against the Rams.

Beyond Samuel and strong safety Rodney Harrison, the remainder of the Patriots' secondary could be in motion.

Rookie free-agent cornerback Randall Gay could start opposite Samuel. Then again, Eugene Wilson, the 2003 second-round draft choice who normally starts at free safety, could be moved into the cornerback position he played at the University of Illinois.

If the latter option were exercised, either Gay or Dexter Reid, a fourth-round draft pick this year, would make the first start of his NFL career at safety alongside Harrison.

"There are several things we can do," head coach Bill Belichick said. "We'll try to decide what we think is the best thing for this game, and that's what it will be.

"There are a lot of considerations. I don't think you can just isolate it to one thing. It's not about one player; it's about a group of players. There are a lot of different variables."

"Will it be a challenge?" asked Harrison. "Yes it will. But that's what you look forward to in the National Football League. You look forward to challenges and seeing how you're going to step up."

Regardless, said Bruschi, the Patriots will still employ the basics of their defense against a St. Louis offense that ranks sixth overall in the NFL.

The Cardinals are fifth in passing behind quarterback Marc Bulger, who has 161 completions in 250 attempts (64.4 percent) for 1,985 yards and 10 touchdowns with seven interceptions.

Bulger often throws to the talented wide receiver tandem of Isaac Bruce (44 receptions for 635 yards and one TD) and Torry Holt (37 catches for 491 yards and four scores).

"We're still going to run what we run," said Bruschi. "Guys have been in this system for months now since they've been drafted and signed, gone through minicamp and training camp. They're expected to know what we do. We can throw anything at them.

"We're not going to simplify anything because we've got a couple of injuries," said Bruschi. "We're going to play what we play and have confidence that we all know what to do, which we do."

The Enterprise at SouthofBoston.com

This week's Notes and Quotes: 11/09/04

 

Large and in charge
By Kevin Mannix/ Report Card
Tuesday, November 9, 2004

LINEBACKER -- A

     Statistically, McGinest had another quiet day, finishing with two tackles, one of them a sack. On the other hand, he also had a deflection and a forced fumble. But since timing is everything, WHEN he made the plays was more important than how MANY he made. His deflection (while covering Holt 15 yards downfield) led to Roman Phifer's interception that led to a third quarter touchdown, and the forced fumble prevented a Rams score at the end of the half. He also smacked Marshall Faulk around when he tried to get out on pass patterns. Vrabel supplied decent pressure, as did Banta-Cain, who got his most extensive playing time of the season. Tedy Bruschi [news] had only three tackles but one came on a sack. Ted Johnson [news]'s only two tackles came on successive plays against Faulk near the goal line, saving a late touchdown.

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Large and in charge

 

On Troy Brown:

Brown's exploits on defense drew praise from his teammates. "He came in and was really big for us," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "He was able to get some coverage on those receivers."

One reason for the good coverage was the pressure up front on Bulger. "That is the thing," said Bruschi. "When you know that you have some young guys back there, other guys have to step up a little bit. You know that they may need a little bit of help, so try to get a bit more pressure on Bulger. You have to get in his face and sack him."

With toughness, chicanery, versatility, and some solid football, the Patriots erased the bad karma of last week's 34-20 loss to the Steelers and re-established their winning ways.

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Brown pulls double duty for defense

 

"He was playing some on defense, way back in the minicamps," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "But you never think it's going to happen in a game."Bruschi joked that when he first saw Brown in the defensive huddle, he thought that he was the one confused and in the wrong huddle: "Then I just turned to him, patted him on the helmet and said, 'How ya doing? It's good to see ya."

Yahoo! News - Patriots start new streak with true team effort

 

 

 "We have a saying around here: The more you do. ..." Tedy Bruschi said. "It means the more you do the more chance you have of sticking around."

 

 

 

On Preparing for the Bills:

"You just have to get your mind right," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said of preparing for the Bills. "When you know a team is going to try to be physical with you and impose its will to run the ball, you have to get yourself ready physically. There isn't as much mental stress in terms of passing concepts. But they have a good running back in McGahee and they like him and want to pump him a little bit so you have to get it in your head that they are going to try to run the ball."

PatriotsInsider.com: Patriots: Week 10 Insiders Perspective

 

"He’s looking at his running game now as something he can count on," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "Drew’s handing the ball off with confidence now. He’s saying, ‘Let the big guys up front do what they can do.’ "

McGahee, Dillon add spark to running games

 

"When McGahee gets the running game going, that puts them in some third and shorts, and all of a sudden, Drew has a lot more confidence when he doesn’t have to get 15 yards or 10 yards and he’s facing a third-and-3 or a third-and-4," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "Percentage-wise, they’re a lot easier to convert."  Bruschi, like many of his teammates, couldn’t pinpoint why McGahee has been more successful than Henry, but they know he brings something to the table that was missing when they clobbered the Bills, 31-17, in Week 4.  "This is his second year in the league, but he’s basically a rookie because of what he went through last year, so maybe that’s giving him extra motivation, too," Bruschi said. "All I know is he’s running the ball hard and his teammates are rallying around him. They have a lot of confidence in him and more confidence now in their running game."

The Herald News

 

 

But the Patriots try not to let injuries affect them. "It's an attitude of whoever's in there we have faith in them to do the job," Bruschi said. "We just don't have faith, we expect them to prepare themselves a certain way and be ready on Sunday." They expect to do well as long as healthy players don't try to do too much to compensate for the absence of injured players. "That's when you start to have problems," Bruschi said. "It's when, uh-oh, somebody else new is in there, so I've got to do something different. You've got to have faith in them and expect them to do their job and just worry about doing your job the best you can and know that the guy next to you is going to get it done."

 Key injuries don't stop New England

 

"I think guys just love playing football, really," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who prefers to stay at his position. "When we switch guys to other positions, they see it as a challenge. They accept it, they embrace it."

Miller throw on a fake punt? Well, certainly don't rule it out

 

The rundown
Tedy Bruschi doesn't know McGahee well, but he's eager to learn all he can about the 6-foot, 223-pound tailback.

"There isn't much film on McGahee," said the linebacker. "It's his second year but he is basically a rookie. His teammates are rallying around him and when he gets their running game going, they get a lot of third and shorts, and that gives Drew [Bledsoe] a lot of confidence. Percentage-wise, third and 3 and third and 4 are a lot easier to convert."

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / He'll keep nose out of trouble

Bruschi adds another twist to Patriots' victory

01:00 AM EST on Monday, November 15, 2004

BY PAUL KENYON
Journal Sports Writer

FOXBORO -- What had been a great night for New England fans suddenly turned scary with just over four minutes left last night in the Patriots' game against the Bills.

The party that began with the cheering of Red Sox officials, including owner John Henry, general manager Theo Epstein and a hobbled Curt Schilling, turned suddenly quiet as linebacker Tedy Bruschi lay on the Gillette Stadium field with just over four minutes left and what would be a 29-6 victory well in hand.

Bruschi had become involved in a pile in the center of the field as he tried to make a tackle, and his body had been bent awkwardly backwards, with his feet pinned under him. Trainers came out on the field and the game was delayed as Bruschi was examined.

"I had to take inventory," Bruschi related after the game. "I think I'm all right. I was able to walk off the field."

Bruschi was smiling and moving fine as he spoke about how his defensive unit went all night without allowing a touchdown, about his second interception of the season and about the injury scare.

"The guys call me a bunch of things. The contortionist. They call me Gumby. They say I'm double jointed. I was just lucky. I rolled with it a little bit and here I am talking to you."

He was asked if he was scared as he lay on the ground.

"Yeah, sure," he responded. "You don't get put in those positions too often, so when that happens, you just want to take a little bit of inventory and make sure everything is OK. I didn't know everything was ok. I had to check it a little bit and decided I could walk off the field."

Bruschi had another productive night with six tackles, one pass defended and a second-quarter interception.

On the interception, former teammate Drew Bledsoe fired the ball right to Bruschi as he dropped back in pass protection. Bruschi looked a bit like Corey Dillon as he made several nice moves and returned the ball 28 yards, to the Buffalo 27, before he was knocked out of bounds. He said he took no special pleasure in getting the interception off his former teammate.

"It's the same to me," he said. "Bledsoe, Peyton (Manning), whoever it is. Out there, we are playing against each other. Drew is a friend of mine, but when he's out there playing against us he's an opponent. He's an opponent who's trying to beat us. I have to make sure that doesn't happen."

No one should get any ideas with his impressive runback, he said. It was not, he responded to a question, an audition to play some offense so he can do double-duty like teammate Troy Brown.

"No. They can have that," he said.

The best part of his night, Bruschi said, was the fact that his unit did not allow a point.

"We didn't let them score. That's the bottom line," he said. "We look up on the scoreboard and see how many points we allowed. We allowed a special teams touchdown and we kept them off the board defensively, so that is a successful day."

And, from all appearances, he came out of it healthy, despite the fourth-quarter scare.

projo.com | Providence, R.I. | Patriots

Key play of the game: Bruschi's interception buffaloes Bledsoe

10:15 AM EST on Monday, November 15, 2004

FOXBORO -- With the Patriots holding a 13-0 lead late in the first half, Buffalo had the ball second-and-11 at its own 45 with 2:24 left.

At this point, Drew Bledsoe was in the two-minute offense and clearly he was, as he used to say all those years ago, "trying to make a play."

The play he made was to throw it directly to Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi. Bledsoe's intended receiver, Lee Evans, was crossing into an area already manned by Bruschi.

But Bledsoe had apparently locked in on Evans and never saw Bruschi, who he hit in the hands.

Bruschi embarked on an adventurous 29-yard return and four plays later, Christian Fauria scored on a 5-yard pass from Tom Brady to make it 20-0 with 35 seconds left in the half.

-- TOM E. CURRAN

projo.com | Providence, R.I. | Patriots

Tedy Bruschi Press Conference

[On his injury]

TB: It was one of those things [where] I was able to sort of twist and turn and get my leg out of the turf, you know. Luckily the turf was a little bit soft and I was able to turn a certain way many people can't turn, guys tell me. That is why I am here in front of you today instead of in the training room.

Q: Have you always had that kind of flexibility?

TB: Yeah, the guys mess around with me. They will call me the contortionist. They will call me Gumby. They will call me double-jointed. A lot of things like that. But, to my advantage, thank goodness, the bottom line is I think I was lucky. I was lucky. I sort of got lucky with escaping injury right there, but luckily my flexibility helped me.

Q: You are limping, though, so is there a little problem?

TB: I am limping? No, that is my Monday walk. [Laughter] That is my Monday after the game walk. It will be better by Wednesday.

Q: How long did it take your team to get to the point, under Bill [Belichick's coaching], where you were performing at a consistent level?

TB: In terms of the dependability, I think we got a boost of confidence last year when we had a rash of injuries. I think the guys who were around last year really remember that situation where we are looking around and saying, 'Who else do we have?' We were able to survive that and guys who came in stepped up well. Matt Chatham came in last year and stepped up well, Larry Izzo at times. There are a lot of guys coming in and out that we have a lot of faith in, so when we were [facing] the same situation here this week [and] last week, we sort of remember that and say, 'Hey, it can be done. It has been done and we expect you to do it, too.'

Q: Is it hard to maintain that level of high week-to-week performance while other teams seem to be on a roller coaster?

TB: Sure, I think it is tough to achieve, but I think the first thing you have to have is good football players. The way we see ourselves in the locker room is we are good football players. We tell the guys, 'There is a reason you are in this locker room and it is to help us eventually. If you are not playing now, eventually you are going to have to do something.' Tully [Banta-Cain] last night, Tully came in and we have been harping on Tully for a while now. 'One of these days, your number is going to be called and when it is called you are going to have to do something.' Last night he came through with a good couple pass rushes where he got a couple of sacks, I think.

Q: How impressed are you with Troy Brown's performance and getting that interception last night?

TB: Yeah, it is impressive. I am glad I got an interception so that I can say I got one and not just Troy. I would be a little bit more discouraged if Troy were the only one to get an interception, but we had a few guys getting picks last night. But, Troy is a guy we all count on. I think we look at Troy as a guy [who], wherever you are going to put him, I think he is going to succeed. Punt returns a few years ago in the AFC championship game, blocking kicks, returning the kick and pitching it to [Antwan Harris]. He has made plays for offense and special teams, and now just add defense to it.

Q: You have had your chance to be a receiver.

TB: I did?

Q: The fake punt.

TB: Oh, the fake punt. Yeah, you want to bring that up, don't you? [Laughter] That is probably why they don't put me on offense anymore, you know. Yeah, that was '96, Denver Broncos. Thanks. I appreciate that. I really appreciate that. That was nice. You have been here a while. I know you remember that.

Q: When you got up [from the field after the injury last night] and you looked on the Jumbotron, were you saying, 'Wow, that doesn't feel as bad as it looks,' or 'Gee, my wife saw that. She might be freaking out right now?'

TB: I thought it was pretty bad until I got it out. Really, until I got my leg out I thought it was going to be pretty bad. Then I sort of contorted my body out and I still thought that something might have been wrong and I heard Vrabes [Mike Vrabel] yelling to the sideline for the trainers to come in and it wasn't for about thirty seconds, until I started wiggling my leg and when the pain subsided and I was like, 'Holy smoke. I am all right.' Yeah, you do get worried. I got the calls from my mom on my answering machine and all that stuff and on the cell phone and everything. I know [my wife] Heidi [Bruschi] was worried until I looked up to her in the stands and gave her a little wave. You know your family thinks about that, but you just call them after the game and let them know you are all right.

Q: Tedy, sometimes when an injury happens like that it is almost a different feeling in terms of the initial shock of what happens. You get that feeling that sometimes you don't feel it when it happens and it ends up being very serious. You said you felt a lot of pain when you went down.

TB: Yeah.

Q: Is there a difference between [those]?

TB: Yeah, sometimes when you get hurt you feel it go. You feel it go and you know. Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving a few years ago is when I injured my knee and I got hit on the knee and immediately I knew, 'Guys [trainers], come on in here. Something is wrong.' That is when I missed the last four games of the year. That wasn't really a painful thing. I guess we are trying to describe what happens when you seriously get hurt and when you don't get hurt. It wasn't really a painful thing, but you knew it. It just was like 'bam!' Something happened. But last night was sort of this thing where you get stretched and then it comes back and I guess that is just a little more painful than when it goes. Here we are getting technical.

Q: What I am wondering is if you knew, maybe even not that long after it happened or even before you had a chance to move, that maybe this wasn't a serious injury?

TB: Yeah. Still didn't know. Still didn't know until that pain subsided and really had a chance to take inventory.

Q: In reference to your performance against Willis McGahee, who didn't get to run against you guys much because you bottled him up, next week you guys are going against Priest Holmes. There is really no let-up, running back wise.

TB: It is really a step up. We are going to, really, one of the premier backs now in the NFL, probably one of the best. It is Priest and it is the philosophy they have offensively. I mean, Priest didn't play yesterday, but then [Derrick] Blaylock had like 200 yards, I think. So, it is their offensive line, I think. That team, that offense is that offensive line. I look at that offensive line and I am impressed. I am impressed by the way they play physically and they way they play together. It is the best offensive line in the league, I think, and I have thought that ever since I have seen them play this year. They have a lot of offensive weapons, but I think their offensive line is the most viable part of that team.

Q: [Tom] Brady always says that he is glad he doesn't have to play against your offense. But, it seems to me that the converse might also be true, that this is might be the best Patriots offense since Belichick has been here. They have played the whole season virtually without Deion [Branch] and are still doing things. How do you, as a defensive guy, see the Patriots offense?

TB: Well, we see them and we go up against them actually, ones versus ones [first team offense versus first team defense] every week on Wednesdays in certain drills. We look forward to the opportunity because we see them doing well and we see them scoring points, but defensively you think you can stop them. You can stop them, and I think offensively they look at us and they see us playing well and they think they can score on us. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. That is the way it goes.

Q: You sort of answered this, but how does it go on Wednesdays? Who has the upper hand?

TB: It depends who wins, who wins the drill, really. It gets highly competitive out there, too, because since training camp you haven't gone against the first team offense. That is when you get into heated battles with the offense. That is when you see the fights in training camp all the time, because that is when ones are going versus ones. But, during the season, you are going against scout team and they are running cards. So, when we have a little drill on Wednesday when we get to go against the first team offense, we look forward to it and they look forward to it also. It gets highly competitive and I think we have the upper hand on them so far.

Notebook: Gumby Bruschi brushes off contortionist act

10:15 AM EST on Monday, November 15, 2004

BY TOM E. CURRAN
Journal Sports Writer

FOXBORO -- Epitomizing the Patriots bend-but-don't-break defense, linebacker Tedy Bruschi last night got bent backwards in the fourth quarter. His right leg caught under him as he tackled Willis McGahee and bent back at an horrific angle.

It didn't look like a season-ender. It looked like a career-ender. Yet after staying down for a few moments, Bruschi left the field walking.

"It's all right," Bruschi said afterwards. "I checked it, moved it, ran a little but. It's OK right now."

Bruschi, who had a key interception in the first half, was asked if he knew he could bend like that.

"Unfortunately, yes, I know I can," he said. "The guys call me contortionist, Gumby, double-jointed. I was lucky. You try to roll with certain pressures when you feel them and I was able to do that and luckily nothing happened. It's almost like, 'Uh-oh, here we go.' "

Which was about the same reaction he had when he picked off Drew Bledsoe late in the first half and rumbled 29 yards the other way to set up a touchdown.

"I'm just not going to go down," Bruschi said of his return. "I've scored some touchdowns in the past feel and I know how to run the ball and read blocks and I'm going to go for it when I get the ball in my hands."

http://www.projo.com/patriots/content/projo_20041115_15patsjo.5c443f2f.html

Bruschi brushes off injury scare
By Karen Guregian/ Patriots Notebook
Tuesday, November 16, 2004

 

FOXBORO - One day later, it still was remarkable watching Tedy Bruschi [news] walk.
 

     During the fourth quarter of the Patriots [stats, news]' 29-6 win Sunday against the Bills, Bruschi landed awkwardly - Joe Theismann awkwardly - on his right knee. The trainers rushed onto the field, and after a few anxious moments, Bruschi got up and walked off.
 

     ``It was one of those things. I was able to twist and turn and get my leg out of the turf,'' Bruschi said yesterday. ``Luckily, the turf was a little soft. I was able to turn a certain way many people can't turn. That's why I'm here . . . instead of the training room.
 

     ``You know, the guys mess around with me. They call me the contortionist. They call me Gumby. They call me double-jointed, things like that. . . . I was lucky escaping injury right there. Luckily, my leg flexibility helped.''
 

     Like everyone else at Gillette Stadium, Bruschi thought he had hurt his knee badly.
 

     ``It wasn't for about 30 seconds until I started wiggling my leg and the pain sort of subsided,'' said Bruschi, who had three tackles, three assists and a key interception. ``I said, `Holy smoke, I'm all right.' ''
 

     Tom Brady [news] also was amazed at Bruschi's ability to bounce back.
 

     ``I don't know how he comes out of those plays the way he does,'' the quarterback said. ``He seems to have a Gumby-like body where he just twists and turns. Some guys, their legs would be snapped in two, but Tedy, he just seems to brush it off.''
 

     Bruschi did have a limp yesterday as he walked to the podium.
 

     ``This is my Monday walk, my Monday after the game walk,'' he said with a laugh. ``It'll be better by Wednesday.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Bruschi brushes off injury scare

Pats feeling lucky

FOXBORO -- The replay of Tedy Bruschi’s injury on the Jumbotron at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night was gruesome enough to make Willis McGahee squeamish.

With less than four minutes remaining, Bruschi teamed up with linebacker Willie McGinest to stop running back Joe Burns at the line of scrimmage, but as they dragged him to the ground, Bruschi’s right leg bent backward in an awkward fashion.

A group of trainers rushed onto the field to tend to Bruschi. Within minutes, he climbed to his feet and walked off the field under his power despite an injury that almost looked as bad as the one McGahee suffered in college two years ago when he tore his ACL against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

"It was one of those things where I was able to sort of twist and turn and get my leg out of the turf," Bruschi said. "Luckily the turf was a little bit soft and I was able to turn a certain way many people can’t turn. That is why I am here in front of you today instead of in the training room."

After the game, Bruschi said he’d take "inventory," but he assumed he’d be fine. On Monday, he teased reporters who tried to crack Bill Belichick’s code of conduct on disclosing injury information. When told he was limping as he walked to the podium in the pressroom, Bruschi said that was his "Monday walk," before adding that he’d be fine by Wednesday.

He expects to play on Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs. Given his reputation as a hard-working, hard-nosed player, it’d be a surprise if he’s not active. Bruschi missed the final four games of the 2002 season after hurting his knee against the Lions on Thanksgiving, but he doesn’t think his current injury is as serious.

"Sometimes when you get hurt you feel it go. You feel it go and you know," Bruschi said. "Thanksgiving a few years ago is when I injured my knee and I got hit on the knee and immediately I knew, ‘(Trainers), come on in here. Something is wrong.’

"It wasn’t really a painful thing, but you knew it. It just was like ‘bam!’ Something happened. But last night was sort of this thing where you get stretched and then it comes back and I guess that is just a little more painful than when it goes."

Bruschi’s always been flexible, as evident by his ability to launch his body toward opponents like a heat-seeking missile, but Sunday’s escape act was miraculous considering how serious the injury looked on the replay. Once they realized he’d be OK, his teammates poked fun at him on the sideline.

"The guys mess around with me," he said. "They will call me the contortionist. They will call me Gumby. They will call me double-jointed. To my advantage, thank goodness, the bottom line is I think I was lucky. I was lucky. I sort of got lucky with escaping injury right there, but luckily my flexibility helped me."

Since he was lying on his back, Bruschi luckily didn’t see the replay.

"I got the calls from my mom on my answering machine and all that stuff and on the cell phone and everything," he said. "(My wife) Heidi was worried until I looked up to her in the stands and gave her a little wave. Your family thinks about that, but you just call them after the game and let them know you are all right."

Belichick made no mention of Bruschi’s noticeable limp on Monday, but he was just as worried as everyone else when he first saw one of his defensive captains rolling around in pain.

"It was an ugly hit," Belichick said. "It looked ugly, but just as I walked over here I saw him and he was walking around fine, so that is good. It didn’t look good. It didn’t look good in person and it didn’t look good on film either. The play looks good now."

The fourth-quarter scare that ensued after Bruschi’s injury was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect night for the Patriots. They held the Buffalo Bills to 125 total yards of offense and cruised to a 29-6 win. Bruschi played a major role in the team’s effort to stop the run, finishing with a team-high six tackles and holding McGahee to an average of 2.6 yards per carry.

"I was proud of the way they played," Belichick said. "We played, defensively, more competitively than we did up in Buffalo by not giving up the big play. We played the running game better."

Now it’s onto Kansas City, which boasts one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. The Chiefs rushed for 200 yards as a team on Sunday without injured running back Priest Holmes in the lineup, which Bruschi said is a credit to their offensive line. Holmes might return in time for Monday’s gamel; if he does, the Patriots will need all their weapons to slow down the Chiefs. Thank goodness for Bruschi’s flexibility.

"I look at that offensive line and I am impressed," Bruschi said. "I am impressed by the way they play physically and they way they play together. It is the best offensive line in the league, I think, and I have thought that ever since I have seen them play this year. They have a lot of offensive weapons, but I think their offensive line is the most viable part of that team."

 The Herald

Bruschi Bends But Doesn't Break
November 16, 2004
By ALAN GREENBERG, Courant Staff Writer

FOXBORO, Mass. --
As dominant as the Patriots were in their 29-6 victory over the Bills at Gillette Stadium Sunday night, their success was nearly marred when it appeared Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi was seriously injured with 3:59 left.

On a Bills running play in which Bruschi and Willie McGinest combined to make the tackle, Bruschi got a leg bent and tangled in the pile of bodies. He emerged relatively unscathed, however, and, after some hesitation, walked off the field unaided.

That Bruschi was available for interviews in the locker room after the game and again early Monday afternoon was a clear sign that the big-play linebacker was OK. Patriots who are seriously injured are rarely made available to the media.

"That was an ugly hit," coach Bill Belichick said Monday. "It didn't look good in person. It didn't look good on film. But he looks good now."

Bruschi, whose interception of a Drew Bledsoe pass set up the Tom Brady to Christian Fauria touchdown that gave the Patriots (8-1) a 20-0 halftime lead, said when the leg got twisted in that fourth-quarter pileup, he was as worried as the millions watching the nationally televised game.

"I thought it was pretty bad, until I got my leg out," Bruschi said. "I heard [Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel] yelling to the sideline for the trainers to come out. It hurt, but then I got it out and I was wiggling my leg for 30 seconds and the pain sort of subsided. I thought, `Holy smokes, I'm all right.'"

Realizing he was OK, Bruschi waved to his wife, Heidi, in the stands. His teammates, some of whom already call him "Gumby" because of his seemingly unnatural flexibility, could only shake their heads afterward in disbelief.

Bruschi viewed the situation with amusement, watching the replay on the giant scoreboard as he stood on the sideline with fellow linebacker Ted Johnson.

"Ted," Bruschi said, "look at my knee."

It looked OK Monday, although one Boston reporter who doesn't cover the Patriots on a daily basis pointed out to Bruschi he was limping.

"Limping?" he said, smiling. "That's my Monday-after-the-game walk. I'll be walking better Wednesday."

The Patriots defense, which runs better with Bruschi, faces a challenge from the Chiefs' high-powered offense next Monday night in Kansas City, Mo.

"Bottom line is, I was lucky," Bruschi said. "I was able to turn in a way that many guys can't turn, or so I'm told."

Bruschi was not so fortunate two years ago in Detroit on Thanksgiving. Minutes after he reached high to make an interception and returned it for a touchdown, he injured a knee.

Although Bruschi said the initial pain of that injury wasn't nearly as bad as what he felt Sunday night, he knew right away something didn't feel right. That injury kept him out of the Patriots' last four regular season games, two of which they lost. One was a 30-17 loss to the Jets in Foxboro in the next-to-last game of the regular season. The Jets and Patriots both finished 9-7, but the Jets won the tiebreaker and were declared AFC East champions. The Patriots failed to make the playoffs.

Although things change quickly in the NFL, it's hard to imagine the defending Super Bowl champions failing to make the 2004 playoffs. Their victory over the Bills gave the Patriots a two-game AFC East lead over their nearest pursuer, the Jets (6-3), who blew a 14-0 lead Sunday at the Meadowlands and lost to the Ravens in overtime.

Even without their two starting cornerbacks, Ty Law (broken foot) and Tyrone Poole (knee), the Patriots have won back-to-back games. Both victories were blowouts.

Monday's victory marked the first time this season that the Patriots defense didn't give up a point. The Bills' lone score came on a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown late in the third quarter.

Bruschi & Co. limited Bills tailback Willis McGahee, who had run for more than 100 yards in each of his three previous starts, to 37 yards on 14 carries. And they thwarted their favorite punching bag, former teammate Bledsoe, intercepting him three times and limiting him to eight completions on 19 attempts and 76 passing yards. For Bledsoe, the final indignity was an interception by Troy Brown, who was once Bledsoe's favorite Patriots receiver.

Connecticut Sports - Pro, College, High School News from The Hartford Courant - SPORTS

Nice twist of fate

BY MARK FARINELLA / SUN CHRONICLE STAFF

FOXBORO -- From the angle of the ESPN replay, it was absolutely gruesome.

Even former Redskins' quarterback Joe Theismann, an expert on gruesome televised injuries hearkening back to when his lower leg snapped like a twig under the weight of the Giants' Lawrence Taylor on Monday Night Football, was reportedly shocked into silence when he saw how Tedy Bruschi's right leg folded awkwardly under his body while making a fourth-quarter tackle.
The replay of the collision and its aftermath was enough to stop reporters in their tracks at a TV monitor halfway between the press box elevator and the interview rooms at Gillette Stadium. To a man, they all winced each time the play was re-run in agonizingly slow motion.

Even Bruschi couldn't believe what he was seeing on the video scoreboards inside the stadium -- yet amazingly, he viewed the replay of what looked like a potentially season-ending injury after getting up and walking back to the Patriots' bench.

``It was one of those things where I was able to sort of twist and turn and get my leg out of the turf,'' Bruschi said of the terrifying moments as he lay prone on the field with 3:39 left in the game. ``Luckily, the turf was a little bit soft and I was able to turn a certain way many people can't turn, guys tell me. That is why I am here in front of you today instead of in the training room.''

The Sun Chronicle Newspaper

This week's Notes and Quotes: 11/15/04

"No. 1, we wanted to stop the run," said Bruschi, whose satisfaction with his squad's effort was equal to his appreciation that a late fourth-quarter hit to his right knee did not leave him with a serious injury. "McGahee can do some different things than when Travis Henry was their No. 1 runner. He can bounce out and cut back more than Travis. And the pressure on Drew -- we wanted to get some sacks and turnovers."

Bruschi's own highlight reel featured one of those turnovers. Gunning for wide receiver Lee Evans in the second quarter, Bledsoe saw Bruschi pick off his pass and take off for a 29-yard romp. Finally, he was caught by Chris Villarrial at the Buffalo 27.

"Hey, when you get it, score with it," said Bruschi. "That's what I was trying to do. I want to score. I'm not going to go down. I've got a feel for how to run the ball and how to read blocks."

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Missions are accomplished

Besides being good, the Pats also are lucky. They watched linebacker Tedy Bruschi, one of their best defensive players, bend his ankle awkwardly late in the game. At first, it appeared as if he had been seriously injured. Yet after a few moments, Bruschi got up and walked to the sidelines. He actually started smiling as he watched a replay of the injury on the giant TV screen in the stadium. "That looked nasty," Brady said. "Some guys, their legs would be snapped in two. But Tedy, he just seems to brush it off. I think we are all fortunate."

 NFL.com - NFL News


Turning Point
November 15, 2004
Alan Greenberg, The Hartford Courant

With the Patriots leading 13-0, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi intercepted a Drew Bledsoe pass and returned it 29 yards to the Buffalo 27 with 2:10 left in the first half. Four plays later, Tom Brady threw a 5-yard TD pass to tight end Christian Fauria. Adam Vinatieri's extra point gave the Patriots a 20-0 halftime lead.

Connecticut Sports - Pro, College, High School News from The Hartford Courant - PATRIOTS

 


 

BRUSCHI WALKS OFF:

Tedy Bruschi's flexibility was tested again, and it passed again. Bruschi's right leg was crumpled under a pile while making a tackle in the fourth quarter. It looked terrible, but the linebacker walked off. "I think I'm all right," he siad. "They call me Gumby, they I'm double-jointed. "I rolled with it a little bit, and here I am talking to you." It was a frightening play. "You don't get put in those positions too often," he said. "So when that happens, you just want to take inventory. I did. I didn't know everything was OK, until I could check, and then I decided I could walk off the field."

Sox get serious cheers

RRM: What are Grogan’s Grades for the demolition job over the Bills in Week #9?

SG: I'm giving out A’s all around for this game. They finally beat a team they were supposed to beat handily, and this was just no contest. Both the Patriots offense and defense played extremely well and the only thing that detracted from the effort was a blip on special teams. Ty Warren had a lot of good plays and turned in what I thought was one of this best efforts so far. I thought Tedy Bruschi played his usually solid game; he really is a Bledsoe Killer. He made a case for playing fullback with his runback on the interception; he made be the next in line to play fullback after Richard Seymour after that performance! I’m just glad Bruschi didn’t get hurt on that play where his knee buckled. When I first saw that play I thought he’d be out for awhile, and to see him just get up and walk off the field smiling was incredible! He’s always been a guy that takes good care of himself and he’s worked extremely hard to become one of the top echelon linebackers in the league. He’s also pretty flexible, and believe me most NFL linebackers aren’t built that way! Let’s hope they can carry their momentum into Kansas City and keep their new winning streak going this week

Grogan's Grade: Week 9 | New England vs. Buffalo

Tedy on Injuries:

"I think we got a boost of confidence last year when we had a rash of injuries," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "I think the guys who were around last year really remember that situation where we are looking around and saying, ‘Who else do we have?’

"We were able to survive that and guys who came in stepped up well. There are a lot of guys coming in and out that we have a lot of faith in, so when we were facing the same situation here this week and last week, we sort of remember that and say, ‘Hey, it can be done. It has been done and we expect you to do it, too.’"

Kent County Daily Times

Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi , nevertheless, still is impressed with the Chiefs' offensive philosophy -- pounding the football. He's aware that the Chiefs can have success with Holmes or without, citing the 33-carry, 186-yard performance of backup running back Blaylock in KC's loss to New Orleans.

"That team, that offense, is that offensive line," said Bruschi. "I look at that offensive line and I'm impressed by the way they play physically and the way they play together. It's the best offensive line in the league, I think. I've thought that all year, but I think that offensive line is the most valuable part of that team."

http://www.projo.com/patriots/content/projo_20041116_16patsjo.ea827.html

On Dillon:

If this were Cincinnati, Tedy Bruschi, who rolled his ankle, knee, entire leg, and whatever else was there, wouldn’t have, after a few moments of pain and training staff TLC, gotten up and walked off the Gillette Stadium turf as if nothing had happened.

He would have been done for the year.

“I was able to walk off the field and test it a little bit,” Bruschi would say later. “I’m just lucky. I rolled with it a little bit and here I am talking to you.”

If this were the Cincinnati that Dillon played in most of his career, perhaps a second-year cornerback such as Asante Samuel wouldn’t have been benched as he was Sunday night, even with the team crying for secondary help. Belichick said simply, “He could have played, yes.”

But he didn’t.

Dillon did, doing the things that Patriots like Bruschi thought he could.

“He’s a defender’s best friend, guys,” Bruschi said. “I’m telling you, when he can pound that ball, take time off the clock . . . We as defenders are sitting there, watching, watching it on the screen, just drinking Gatorade. It’s good for us, we get rest, he wears down the defense . . .

“I knew who Corey was before he came here . . . To get him, was really something. I was excited about it because I was hoping we could be able to see some of the things he’s doing right now. It’s just exciting to watch the offense and watch him run.”
 

The Telegraph Online

But it's not easy to play well every week.

"It is tough to achieve," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Monday, "but I think the first thing you have to have is good football players. The way we see ourselves in the locker room is we are good football players. We tell the guys, 'There is a reason you are in this locker room and it is to help us eventually. If you are not playing now, eventually you are going to have to do something."'

FresnoBee.com: National Football League: Two in a row and more to go?

LINEBACKERS - A

     There was solid productivity from a number of players. Tedy Bruschi [news] had six tackles to go with his big interception. Tully Banta-Cain capitalized on his added playing time by getting in on two sacks and making an interception in his role as a pass-rushing linebacker. Willie McGinest [news] had a sack and a forced fumble to go with his four tackles. Mike Vrabel [news] was on his game, as well, finishing with six stops. After stuffing McGahee on a third-and-1 run right at him, Vrabel went over to the Bills' sideline and shouted to Buffalo coach Mike Mularkey, ``C'mon, Mike. Don't do that!' Not much of the Bills offense worked. The Pats' outside linebackers prevented McGahee from getting outside, and Buffalo had to rely on Bledsoe's passing for its offense.

BostonHerald.com - Patriots:Report Card

 

On Stopping the Run:

In talking to players and coaches this week, one theme emerged above all others. When the Pats have struggled, it's because players have lost their gap responsibility by trying to do too much. ``We'll see,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] said. ``We think we had some success last week (in giving up 50 rushing yards to Buffalo), but every week is a different week and a different challenge.''

     ``The times we haven't stopped the run, I think guys try to help out their teammates too much,'' defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said. ``As an example, when you're trying to stop the outside run, the guy who is responsible for turning the ball in, sometimes if he peeks inside, the ball gets outside of him and it turns into a substantial gain. So it's not that he's not trying to do his job, but he's trying to help out before doing his job first. And that's happened to us several times.''

     The Pats have made some minor changes the last two games, the most obvious of which as been the insertion of veteran Keith Traylor into the starting nose tackle spot over rookie Vince Wilfork. According to Bruschi, they've also committed to a physical style.

     ``It's just everyone worrying about doing their particular job. And while they're doing it, do it with a physical mentality,'' Bruschi said. ``I think when we have success, those are the two things that really stand out. You can talk about technique and size and strength and all that. But I think when it comes down to it, it's a certain mentality teams have when it comes to running the ball - and a certain mentality we have to have when it comes to stopping the run.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Pats brace for run

Bruschi bounces back
 

     Linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] walked to his locker stall and could only laugh at the questions. Does he do yoga? ``Nope.'' Pilates? ``Nope.''
 

     ``I feel like a bunch of guys in white coats are going to come in here and lay me on a table,'' Bruschi said, ``but I'm all right. I really am.''
 

     Bruschi was referring to his good health after landing so awkwardly on his knee last week that most everyone assumed his season was finished. Instead, Bruschi was back out at practice yesterday as if nothing had happened. . . .

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Chiefs don't add up: On paper KC's great, but record is not

 

Return of Gumby
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who looked as if he had mangled his right knee in the closing moments of last Sunday's win over Buffalo, was walking without the slightest trace of a limp prior to yesterday's workout. Contrary to what initially appeared to be a gruesome injury, based on the replay, the pliable Bruschi said after the win, and again on Monday, that he survived the awkward pileup without substantial damage . . .

 

ON KC Offense:

The offense hums along with Super Bowl efficiency, scoring almost 29 points a game and leading the league in total yards.

“Priest didn’t play, but then Blaylock had like 200 yards,” said New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi. “So, it is their offensive line, I think. I look at that offensive line and I am impressed. I am impressed by the way they play physically and the way they play together. It is the best offensive line in the league.”

Similar compliments have been offered all year to the blocking unit of Casey Wiegmann, Will Shields, John Welbourn, Willie Roaf and Brian Waters.

“Did Tedy really say that?” asked left guard Waters. “Well, it’s nice of him. But sometimes those opposing players will say whatever they think the guy they’re going to be playing against wants to hear.”

MSNBC - With Chiefs-Pats, MNF could be all offense

It's a group dynamic

These six Patriots form heart of team

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A group of six Patriots has played together since 1996, no small feat in the era of NFL free agency and constant personnel change.

Adam Vinatieri (undrafted free agent, '96), Troy Brown ('93 draft), Tedy Bruschi ('96 draft), Ted Johnson ('95 draft), Willie McGinest ('94 draft), and Ty Law ('95 draft) have been together since '96 when Bill Parcells was in charge. All but the injured Law will be in action tonight against the Kansas City Chiefs.

They have played in three Super Bowls, winning two. They are 85-52 in the regular season since '96. They have worked under three coaches, played in two home stadiums, and been a part of a team that won a record 21 straight games.

"We're kind of like the last of the Mohicans, you know?" McGinest said. "This team looks completely different from when I first got here, but to see a few core guys still here is really good for our team. There's some continuity there for all of us and I think that's really important.

"We're all cool together. I remember we took a picture together after the last Super Bowl of the guys who have been together. But it's not just football that makes us friends. It's deeper than football, and it always will be." "We've been around for so long that we know each other on and off the field, but more importantly for our team we know each other on the field," Bruschi said. "You just don't see it too often, guys in the same place and [having] as much success as we have. The six of us have a lot more history together. We know how we're going to react to certain situations."Nobody knows how much longer they will be together, and when they have seen contemporaries depart, they feel empty. Nobody took Drew Bledsoe's departure any harder than Brown or Johnson. Last year they all said their goodbyes to Lawyer Milloy.

"You know how I reacted when Lawyer left," Bruschi said. "It's hard on me because I'm a guy who truly believes in loyalty and who believes that guys should be able to play together their entire careers. I've seen too many friends leave, all the way back to Chris Slade and Lawyer. Spoke to Slade last week. [I] keep in touch with Andy [Katzenmoyer].

"For me, I'm a true family man at home. And to me, this is my second family. If they do have to part ways, I like to see it in a happy way where you retire. To see people leave because they're disgruntled, that bothers me. Hopefully, it'll work out differently for the guys who have been together for my nine years here." 

 Bruschi has done his part to keep the team together by negotiating his own contracts the last two times and probably taking less money to stay. Johnson turned down a chance to go to Green Bay for more money. McGinest has restructured his contract many times to fit under the salary cap. Brown always has taken less money than he probably deserved. Law and Vinatieri are about to reach a crossroads: whether to extend their time in New England or maximize their earning potential elsewhere.

"If I ran a company, I would want each and every one of those guys working for me," Johnson said. "They all have staying power. They are the epitome of what a professional is supposed to be. I love all of them."

It's been mostly ups, but there have been a few downs, too.

Vinatieri may make the Hall of Fame as one of the biggest money kickers of all time, but in 1999 he missed two normally makable field goals here at Arrowhead Stadium and one in Buffalo that might have made the Patriots 10-6 instead of 8-8. Johnson had a rift with Bill Belichick early in the '02 season when Belichick reduced his playing time, going AWOL for a couple of days.

McGinest survived serious injury problems to re-emerge as a strong player. Brown recently has fallen a bit on the depth chart at wide receiver and has had to play some defense this season at age 33.

"In football, it's hard to stay together," Vinatieri said. "That's the tough thing. It's a young man's sport and it's a tough sport that can take players away for health reasons. But we've been so lucky here to have had guys achieve things together for so long."

Johnson said of the players' relationships, "Sometimes it's just unspoken what we mean to each other. When you're reminded of it, it's pretty neat. What's been nice to see is how we've all kind of grown up together and watched each other grow as people off the field."

Brown has been in New England the longest, and he knows one thing about his experience with these players: "I'll never forget them." 

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / It's a group dynamic

Resilient Pats show Chiefs how it's done: Champs' prime-time win brings misery to Missouri
By Michael Felger
Tuesday, November 23, 2004

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - They've gone into the toughest environments, played the most high-powered offenses and suffered injuries at the most important positions.
 

     And still the Patriots [stats, news] keep winning.
 

     If that surprises you, like it seems to surprise many national observers, then the Pats have a message for you: Get used to it. After surviving yet another offensive juggernaut in hostile territory last night, beating the Chiefs, 27-19, the players in the visitors locker room at Arrowhead Stadium seemed to have no patience for the incessant question: How do you keep doing it?
 

     ``When are you going to realize we've got playmakers on this defense?'' snapped linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news]. ``Everyone keeps asking me how we do it. How do we do it? We've got good players! Does this surprise me? Absolutely not.''
 

     Bruschi's pride notwithstanding, the Pats don't currently have the greatest players in their banged-up secondary (hello, Earthwind Moreland). That's why they gave up their share of plays up and down the field.
 

     But, true to form, the Pats made the crucial plays when they had to, and the biggest of all were Rodney Harrison [news]'s end zone interception late in the first half and Willie McGinest [news]'s game-ending sack with the Chiefs driving for the potential tying score.
 

     ``You've got to be proud of these guys, because we just kept fighting,'' Harrison said. ``No matter what the situation, we just continued to fight. And that's our motto, continue to fight. Don't get frustrated with one another, because eventually somebody is going to make a play.''
 

     Offensively, the Pats never had to play catch-up, and that led to some good balance between Tom Brady [news] (315 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions) and Corey Dillon (98 yards, two touchdowns). The offense also got a huge boost from the return of top receiver Deion Branch [news] (six catches, 105 yards, touchdown).
 

     The game did have some anxious moments, none more nerve-racking than Dillon's fumble on the Chiefs' 3-yard line with 12:04 remaining and the Pats leading by 11. A touchdown would have given the Pats an insurmountable lead. Instead, the turnover set up a 26-yard touchdown pass from Trent Green to Eddie Kennison, who was all alone in the end zone after Moreland's second touchdown-producing mistake of the game.
 

     The Chiefs failed on their two-point attempt, which meant the Pats had to run some clock or produce a score to seal the win. They did both, as Dillon held onto the ball while running for 28 yards and Adam Vinatieri [news] made it an eight-point cushion with a 28-yard field goal.
 

     On the ensuing possession, McGinest dropped Green for a sack (the Pats' fourth on the night) on fourth down and the Pats had their third straight win. The Pats have now won 24 of their last 25 games, and in the span of three weeks they've taken down the two best offenses Missouri has to offer - the Chiefs and St. Louis Rams.
 

     More importantly, the Pats (9-1) solidified their hold on the No. 2 seed in the AFC, two games ahead of five teams at 7-3. They still have the Steelers (9-1) in their sights for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. All in all, it was reason enough for the Pats to jump on the plane in a good mood.
 

     ``It's a tough place to come in and play,'' said coach Bill Belichick [news]. ``I thought the players did a good job standing up to the adversity.''
 

     Surprised?

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Resilient Pats show Chiefs how it's done: Champs' prime-time win brings misery to Missouri

This week's Notes and Quotes: 11/23/04

On the  Chiefs Game:

"[Arrowhead] is the loudest outdoor stadium in the league," concurred linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "It's so loud you can't hear yourself think."

But the Patriots did think. They always do. Above all, they resort to their football intelligence when the environment is hostile, the game is close, and air is ripe for an upset. There's a reason New England is 9-1 this morning, and Kansas City is 3-7.

There is Bruschi breaking up a pass on first down. There is an errant throw from Green on second down. And there is Harrison picking it off in the end zone on third down. "We've got playmakers on defense," said Bruschi. "We have all sorts of guys that step up in that situation. Are we surprised? No. We've been doing this a long time. Our only concern is how many points are on the board at the end of the game."

Boston.com / Sports

"I think it's us staying together," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We stay together. Even though offenses are able to have some success sometimes, it's easy to sort of start complaining to each other and pointing people out, saying 'Why didn't you do this? Why didn't you do that?' It's just about [whether] they got in the end zone. That's the only thing we care about. Let them get their yards, and lets not let them in the end zone."

The Patriots have been playing well in the red zone all season. Entering the game, they had allowed only 11 touchdowns in opponent's 31 drives inside the red zone, a 35.5 touchdown percentage. They continued that trend Monday night, holding the Chiefs to three points in two trips inside their 20-yard line. The red zone has become a source of pride for the Patriots defense.

"You better start having some pride when they get that close," Bruschi said. "Because there's nothing left to do, they're running out of field. You look back and you see the goal line, and it's like 'We have to do something.'"

Official Website of the New England Patriots

Better taste

    ABC had scripted an opening for last night's "Monday Night Football" telecast and sent it to both the Patriots and Chiefs a week ago -- a full day before the protests over last week's Terrell Owens/"Desperate Housewives" skit created a national firestorm over what constitutes good taste in television. Patriots Tom Brady and Tedy Bruschi, filmed separately for last night's opening, each intoned, "It's 9 p.m., Eastern Time, on Monday night. You know what that means. "The Chiefs' Trent Green and Tony Gonzalez then did a duet: "Are you ready for some football?" That led into the lengthy Hank Williams Jr. rendition of the song by that name. Hardly controversial. The only thing ABC was promoting this week was football.

Boston.com / Sports / College / Football / Is this move by Fox sly?

 

FARINELLA: Job done again

There are those who believe a note of concern should have been sounded over some of the things that transpired during the Patriots' 27-19 triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.

`` The only concern,'' line backer Tedy Bruschi said, `` is how many points are on the board at the end of the game.''
If that sounded a little cocky or smug on Bruschi's part as he stood before the microphones and cameras in the cramped visiting-team locker room at Arrow head Stadium early this morning, it wasn't meant to be. After venturing into one of the toughest venues imaginable for a visiting team and emerging with their 24th victory in their last 25 games, Bruschi and his team mates were just stating a fact.

All that concerns them is getting the job done. It doesn't matter how, nor does it matter who takes the lead and who follows. The bottom line is the final score -- and for nine times out of 10 this year, the mission has been accomplished.

Like a fine drama featuring a talented ensemble cast, it seems as if different players get their chances to be `` stars'' in each successive win.

The Sun Chronicle Newspaper

Howie gets defensive

Howie Long selected his Top Defensive Players of the 2004 season:

1. LB Ray Lewis — Ravens
2. S Ed Reed — Ravens
3. LB Keith Bulluck — Titans
4. CB Patrick Surtain — Dolphins; CB Chris McAlister — Ravens
5. DE Jevon Kearse — Eagles; DE Dwight Freeney — Colts
6. DT Shaun Rogers — Lions
7. DT Marcus Stroud — Jaguars
8. DE Julius Peppers — Panthers
9. S Brian Dawkins — Eagles
10. LB Tedy Bruschi, S Rodney Harrison, LB Willie McGinest — Patriots

FOXSports.com - FOX NFL SUNDAY SHOWCASE: Week 11

On Thanksgiving:

"It's just really a chance during the season to take a deep breath and be thankful for all the things that have been good in our lives," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "In my family's life, with our two beautiful healthy sons (Tedy Jr. and Rex) and we have another one on the way, Heidi is eight-and-a-half months pregnant, so things have been going good and we'll just say our prayers and be grateful."

Busy Patriots making time for thanks

 

Report Card/Kevin Mannix

LINEBACKERS - B+
 

     Willie McGinest [news] extinguished the Chiefs' final hope with a 10-yard sack on Trent Green but that wasn't the extent of his productivity. He and Mike Vrabel [news] did a nice job of sealing the outside as well as jamming the off-tackle holes that the Chiefs exploited repeatedly against the Saints. Vrabel had six tackles, McGinest had three.
 

     Tully Banta-Cain continues to make the most of his growing role as a pass-rusher. Although Rosevelt Colvin hasn't yet regained the speed/power combination that made him a $25 million free agent prior to his hip injury, he did have a cleanup sack (when Vrabel chased Green out of the pocket).
 

     Tedy Bruschi [news] (seven solo tackles) and Ted Johnson [news] (two) had the difficult assignment of holding their position against the Chiefs' Pro Bowl guards and they handled it well.

 

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: That certain something

 

 

Family-friendly Pats
 

     Don't say we told you, but word out of Foxboro is there's a regular baby boom going on in the New England Patriots locker room!

     Five - that we know of - Pats' wives are expecting little bundles of joy right around the time of the Super Bowl.
Adam Vinatieri's wife, Valerie, is pregnant with the couple's second child; Ted Johnson's wife, Jackie, is also having their second. (She also has two kids from a previous marriage.) Mountain man-turned-metrosexual Matt Light is going to be a dad for the second time (His wife, Suzy, is preggers.) and Tedy Bruschi's wife, Heidi, is expecting a third little Bruschi. Joe Andruzzi's wife, Jennifer, is pregnant with their fourth. Oh, babies!

BostonHerald.com - Inside Track:

 

Send this man to Hawaii

By Hector Longo
Staff Writer

FOXBORO -- "Individuals go to Pro Bowls, teams win championships."

New England Patriots personnel man Scott Pioli was adamant about his team's platform when he spouted the party line during Super Bowl week last January.

That was last year.

Things have changed this year with the defending world champs, or at least they've shifted a bit. Take the case of inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

His normal, active and usually nondescript self, Bruschi lies at the top of the Patriots ticket, the campaign headliner for the team's signature defense.

Headed into this afternoon's (4:15 p.m.) showdown with the game's premier linebacker Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens, the push is clearly on here at Gillette Stadium: "Tedy for Pro Bowl in 2004."

And why not?

When a player is as loyal as Bruschi ... (many think while negotiating his own deal -- a la Curt Schilling -- he took a hometown discount of up to $2 million a season in extending his most recent contract, just to stay here);

As talented as Bruschi ... (he consistently ranks up with the top tacklers and turnover specialists at linebacker in the AFC);

And as persistent as Bruschi (he's been a starter and full-time player since 1999, missing only four games to injury), it's easy to see why the Pats would break tradition and look to reward him.

"You see the way he plays the game," said linebacker and locker-room neighbor Larry Izzo, himself a two-time recipient of a free February trip to the NFL's showcase in Hawaii. "If anyone deserves it, Tedy does."

In a nine-year pro career in Foxboro, the self-made Bruschi -- a third-round pick by Bill Parcells in 1996 -- has gone from special-teams specialist to outside pass-rusher to every-down inside linebacker and defensive captain. Along the way, he's been to three Super Bowls, winning two, and played in a dozen playoff games.

The only thing missing on his resume is a Pro Bowl, and that has to be tough to take for a proud, but humble guy, who looks around the defensive huddle and sees multiple Pro Bowl selections like Richard Seymour, Willie McGinest, Rodney Harrison and Ty Law.

"All this team looks to do is win football games," said Bruschi. "Every guy in here is focussed on that."

But why the push now for Bruschi, who set the Arizona record for sacks in his collegiate career? What makes 2004 the year?

First off, there is his performance.

Unlike last year where he hit homer after homer, picking off passes for TDs and changing games with lightning efficiency, Bruschi has been a quietly steady force this year.

This defense shut down big-time runners like Marshall Faulk (12 carries, 66 yards), Willis McGahee (14-37) and most recently KC's Derrick Blalock (19-58), and Bruschi, with 67 total tackles, is a significant factor why.

In addition, Bill Belichick has asked his inside linebackers to take deeper-than-normal drops in the passing game to help clog lanes and aid a depleted corps of corners.

"That's a lot of responsibility out there, more than it looks like," said Bruschi backup Tully Banta-Cain.

Bruschi hasn't missed a step.

Second, Bruschi has his best opportunity yet to earn some notoriety on a national stage.

Miami's Zach Thomas, a regular in Oahu, plays on one of the worst teams in football this year. London Fletcher suffers the same fate in Buffalo, while Kendrell Bell has played just three games this year in Pittsburgh due to injury.

Donnie Edwards has 82 tackles for rejuvenated San Diego, but who's even seen the Chargers this year? The Patriots have become America's Team, opening on a Thursday night before a national audience and then being the marquee game on a weekly basis.

Take today's tilt with Baltimore, moved to 4:15 p.m. (from 1 p.m.) so it can be the national doubleheader game. Exposure equals votes, from both fans and fellow players.

Al Wilson in Denver is about the only other worthy candidate, but again, he's no household name. Houston's Jamie Sharper and Jacksonville's Mike Peterson are near the top of the game, and they are anonymous right now.

Most of all, lately there is the propaganda campaign leaking out of Foxboro that the game's best defensive player, Baltimore's Lewis, has lost a step and become a better talker than tackler at the age of 29.

While the rest of the NFL remains in awe of Lewis, Belichick made a point this week to brand Ravens safety Ed Reed, not Lewis, as the "defensive MVP in the league."

It was a subtle, but effective show of support for Bruschi from the coach he admires most.

The door is wide open. All Bruschi has to do is finish strong and bust through to cap his first career Pro Bowl season. Finish strong, stay healthy and roll into the playoffs with few or no slipups.

"Vote Tedy in 2004!"

The rest is up to you.

Send this man to Hawaii

Bruschi proves value: Linebacker's huge plays MVP-worthy
By Kevin Mannix/ The NFL
Monday, November 29, 2004

 

FOXBORO - By most estimates, the leading candidates for defensive MVP in the NFL this year were on the field yesterday at Gillette Stadium. Some, like Pats coach Bill Belichick [news], liked Ravens safety Ed Reed. Others went with the chalk pick and felt Ray Lewis, Baltimore's inside linebacker and a two-time defensive player of the year, was the guy.
 

     Looking at their numbers and the various highlight films of each, it's hard to disagree.
 

     Here's one contrarian vote, however.


 

     Yesterday we got to see both Ravens up close and personal and they're good, no question. Lewis had 12 tackles, the 20th straight time he's reached double digits. Reed was next with nine tackles and a deflection.
 

     But having seen the Patriots [stats, news] every game, neither Reed nor Lewis is more valuable to his team than Tedy Bruschi [news] is to New England. There is no other player more valuable to any team in the league than Bruschi is to the Pats through 11 games this year.
 

     He's durable. He's dependable. Need a big play, watch No. 54. Every week, he seems to make a play that leads to another victory.
 

     Yesterday's Bruschi Moment came early in the fourth quarter. The Pats had just gone ahead 17-3 and had the Ravens in a second-and-20 from their own 20. Mike Vrabel [news] chased quarterback Kyle Boller out of the pocket. As the quarterback tried to pull free from Vrabel's grasp, Bruschi came on the scene and knocked the ball loose.
 

     Defensive lineman Jarvis Green recovered the loose ball in the end zone to close out the scoring in the 24-3 Pats victory.
 

     Early in the season, Richard Seymour [news] was the beneficiary of a Bruschi play. With the Bills inside the Pats' 20-yard line and threatening to tie the game, Bruschi sacked Drew Bledsoe and forced a fumble that Seymour returned 68 yards for the decisive touchdown.
 

     It was Bruschi who made a diving interception of a Payton Manning pass on Opening Day to short-circuit an early Indianapolis drive.
 

     Last Monday night, when the Chiefs were still in the game, it was Bruschi who stuffed Derrick Blaylock on third-and-1, forcing KC to settle for a field goal.
 

     There are a lot of people who make tackles. Bruschi makes plays, and that's by design.
 

     ``On that fumble that Jarvis recovered,'' Bruschi said, ``it would have been easy to just go in and reach for his legs and get the sack. But I always want to make big plays. Vrabes had him and (Boller) looked like he was on his way down. I just wanted to go for the ball and get it out.
 

     ``That's just the way I play. I don't want to just make a tackle or a sack or even an interception. I want to get my hand on the ball and score. If I don't score, I want to help somebody else on the defense score. Big Sey (Seymour) scored up in Buffalo and now Jarvis has one. I'm just taking care of my D-linemen.''
 

     What he doesn't take care of is self-promotion, another characteristic that sets him apart from so many of today's athletes. He's not going to respond to questions about his own value. MVP? Don't even bring up the subject.
 

     ``You know how I'm going to respond to that,'' he said when the MVP subject was raised in the locker room yesterday. ``I'm just not into that and I'm not into voting. All I'm about is championships, starting with the AFC East, and doing whatever I can to make that happen.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Bruschi proves value: Linebacker's huge plays MVP-worthy

 

 

Best defense: Baltimore is good, but Pats ballhawks are better in 24-3 Foxboro win

By Hector Longo
Staff Writer

FOXBORO — The best defense in the National Football League didn't just hit town yesterday.

With all due respect to Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the Baltimore Ravens, the NFL's finest defense resides here at Gillette Stadium, proving it in the muck and mire with a 24-3 win against said Ravens.

Often overlooked because Tom Brady's offense carries its own weight, this Bill Belichick-led defense has the Pats (10-1) on the verge of a dynasty. The wins just keep coming, especially at Gillette Stadium.

"You breathe in the air here and you feel like you should be playing at a higher level," said Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who again showed a national audience that he belongs in the Pro Bowl by registering seven tackles, one sack and a forced fumble that New England recovered for a touchdown.

Holding the Ravens to 124 yards of offense (a mere 2.1 yards per play), New England improved to 16-0 at home over the last two years, 21-3 since the joint opened in 2002. And no end to the dominance is in sight.

The numbers here are staggering, be it the 10.7 points a game surrendered in six home wins this year, the 14 points allowed to powerhouses Indy and Tennessee in the playoffs last year, or the 10.0 a game figure encompassing all 16 wins.

The New England defensive formula is a simple one:

Win the turnover battle. Win third downs. And finally, persevere when it matters most.

Of course, it helps to have Brady running the show on the other side, but this defense prides itself on doing its part, especially when it comes to takeaways.

Like a dog that hasn't been fed for a day or two, Bruschi has been a bit crazed in his play lately. He likes to touch the football and he likes to score TDs, something he hadn't done much through the first 10 games this year.

When Bruschi had his chance to hit a homer yesterday, he didn't miss. With a defenseless Kyle Boller flopping in the pocket inside his own 10-yard line, Bruschi blindsided the Ravens QB and stripped the ball away. It rolled into the end zone, where teammate Jarvis Green pounced on it for a fourth-quarter touchdown that broke Baltimore's back.

That fumble and Randall Gay's interception were two more turnovers than the Pats offense made yesterday.

"That team was, I think, 43-2 under Brian Billick when they win the turnover battle," said Brady, pleased that the statistic he mentioned never came into play.

Bruschi and his crew find ways to get off the field quickly, living by the motto that it's tough to be scored on when you're on the sidelines.

The Pats defense may rank only 12th in the AFC on third-down conversions, allowing 36.4 percent, but it's a number that consistently favors New England on a weekly basis.

Yesterday, New England moved the chains 6 of 17 times on third down, while the Ravens were nearly half as successful at 3 of 14.

Bruschi again was at the center of many of those stops, none better than the tone-setter on Baltimore's initial possession of the second half, when he single-handedly flattened Chester Taylor on a third-and-1 swing pass for a 5-yard loss.

Maybe it was the weather.

"November and December football in Foxboro, I love it" said Bruschi, who admitted to needing a bit of time to adjust to New England after growing up in Southern California and playing his college ball in Arizona. "The worse the weather gets, the better the Patriots play."

Remarkably, the Patriots defense becomes even stingier in the final two months of the season. At Gillette in the last two years, the Pats are 6-0, giving up 3.7 points per game.

That's barely over a field goal per game — a stunning figure when you consider the team played all six contests with playoff implications hinging on each decision.

Baltimore, the supposed defensive beast of the AFC, was only an afterthought here yesterday, just a little extra heat poured on the fire by Belichick and his staff.

"I think our defense showed we can hang with the best of them," said safety Rodney Harrison. "Every time we step on the field we want to play well, regardless of the defense we are facing."

Eagle Tribune

This week's Notes and Quotes: 11/29/04

 

 Click here for the Play of the game

"When it starts to snow and it starts to rain, to us, it just seems like it's time to play football," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said after New England ran its record to 10-1 with a 24-3 win.

"It was a lot of fun playing out there," Bruschi said. "The sloppier the better. Getting your uniform wet and dirty and playing in the mud, that's what you love if you're a football player."

Two teams played in the mud Sunday. One team won. The Patriots always win, it seems, no matter the circumstances. "We adapt," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi, grinning, knowing he was revealing no secret.

Though Boller hung in there for parts of three quarters, he eventually succumbed on the Bruschi strip. "Vrabes had him," said Bruschi, referring to linebacker Mike Vrabel. "He managed to slip away, and I was able to sack him and strip the ball from him. Then it was a case of following the ball and trying to get in there, and Jarvis was able to fall on it in the end zone." 

Linebacker Mike Vrabel [news] swooped around left end untouched and nearly twisted Boller into the ground. The beleaguered Boller somehow managed to keep his balance and swerved away, but that gave linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] additional time to poke the ball out of his hand and begin a wild goose chase in the mud.  ``I was pushing the lineman and I saw Tedy go for the ball,'' Green said. ``The ball popped loose and people went after it. It slipped through someone's hands and I said to myself, `If I get the ball, I'm not letting it slip out of my hands.' ''

The Patriots, led by linebacker Tedy Bruschi, held Baltimore to 29 total yards and three first downs in the second half and even scored a touchdown in a 24-3 victory. The win, agains a Ravens team that entered the game with the NFL's stingiest defence, was New England's 17th in a row at home, including playoffs.

 So after a game like this, don't even ask a Patriot how bad the conditions were.  Somebody did anyway. Same for both teams, Harrison pointed out. "Football in November and December in Foxboro," Tedy Bruschi crowed, smiling at the thought. "The worse the weather gets, the better the Patriots play."  This coming from a California guy who went to Arizona to play ball. But Bruschi made the adjustment. "It took me a few years to tell you the truth."  It might have looked nasty, but Harrison said, "We practice in weather worse than this."

"We practice when it's freezing, snowing, when its raining," said Rodney Harrison. "These guys seem to embrace it. Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel are out there with no sleeves on. Guys are out there with shorts on. These guys are crazy."

"I feel very energized in November and December in this stadium," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "It's a feeling we get, a feeling I get. It gets windy and it gets snowy and it gets a little colder and it starts to feel like football. You feel the game."

On his personal foul:

Said Bruschi: ``It's my fault. I lost my cool. . . . I always talk to the guys about not losing your composure and I did it on that play.''   Said Belichick: ``That was really like the Bad News Bears.''

 

11/30/04  NEW YORK (AP) -- The holiday season is a busy time for the NFL -- on and off the field.

It heats up Tuesday, with several clubs involved in charity work. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and linebacker Tedy Bruschi will begin a toy drive in conjunction with Bank of America.

Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft and linebacker Tedy Bruschi will participate in the Roxbury Boys and Girls Club holiday toy drive kickoff event at 2:00 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club (115 Warren Street). The event marks the start of a partnership between the Patriots and Bank of America to collect gifts that will later be distributed to New England area children's charities in time for the holidays. Bruschi will unveil a giant satchel of toys, marking the first donation to the effort before Kraft and Bruschi join volunteers in wrapping gifts for the toy drive.

 

Other nominees for AFC Defensive Player of Week 12 were:

  • New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who had seven tackles, including 1.0 sack for an 18-yard loss. Johnson also forced a fumble in the Ravens' end zone which was recovered by a teammate for a touchdown.

On Corey Dillion's Stiff-arm technique:

"With the stiff-arm, you want to break it down and some guys aren't able to do that against Corey," said Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "You want to slap the arm down with one hand and wrap with the other. Sometimes running backs will go at your face and you have a choice, do you knock it up or knock it down?

"In terms of the guys I've seen use it, the best is Corey," Bruschi said. "I've seen him use it two or three times on the same play. He gets the first guy with it, then he throws it again and again until they either get him down or he goes out of bounds."

This week's Notes and Quotes: 12/05/04

The stats displayed during the Pats' Nov. 22 game in Kansas City were headlined ``Team Patriot.''

      Essentially, the graphic indicated the Pats had amassed these statistics in the following categories through nine games: 15 players with at least one reception; 14 players with at least one takeaway (an interception or fumble recovery); 11 players with at least one sack; and 11 players with at least one touchdown scored. According to the Elias, the Pats were only the second team in the NFL over the past 20 years -- the 1998 St. Louis Rams being the other -- to have 10-plus players in each of the four categories that early in the season. Apprised of the impressive factoid Elias had dug up, it gave many Patriots players reason to smile.

    ``I think maybe that's proof about what we've been saying for so long, what a lot of journalists and TV personalities don't really understand when we talk about team,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] said when told of the statistical oddity. ``A lot of teams can talk about it, saying, `This is how we want to play.' But do you really have something to show that proves the way you are. We've said it for years, that everyone in this locker room can contribute. And I think maybe that (data) shows it, the across-the-board contribution that we've produced.''

On Belichick and Cleveland:

And just so the good Clevelanders didn't forget, he gave them reason to remember, giving their current team, their rookie quarterback and their interim coach a good beating. ``After what's happened to him here in the past, I'm sure he feels good and I feel good for him,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] said.  Bruschi remembers the way his coach and teammates felt when they walked off the field here in 2000, losing a 19-11 game to an expansion team. But Belichick's problems here go well beyond that game.


BostonHerald.com - Patriots: This time, it's personal: Belichick takes it to former team

     ``It would mean a lot to me if I were him, let's put it that way,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] said. ``Especially with the way we lost here the last time. I'm one of the few guys who is still on the team from that. I didn't feel too good about that one, and I'm sure (Belichick) didn't either. That's why I'm happy for him now.''

On the Browns game:

The Patriots gained control as Bethel Johnson returned the opening kickoff for a touchown. The Patriots were actually scoreless for a 14-minute-30-second span of the first quarter, yet concluded the quarter ahead, 14-0.

"They might have had a high level of energy but we wanted to start with a big play and give our offense good field position. Bethel made a great return, we all blocked our guys. That was the tone-setter of the game," Bruschi said.

Bruschi said he was also motivated by memories of the Patriots' 19-11 loss to the Browns in their last visit to Cleveland in 2000, and by the feeling of helping Belichick, a former Browns coach, get some revenge.

"I am one of the few guys who was here for that game," Bruschi said. "I feel good about it and I feel good for him."

The Patriots had surrendered only one touchdown to opposing offenses in three previous games. But this was actually among their more dominating defensive performances of the season. The defense and special teams produced 14 points. The Patriots intercepted two passes, recovered two fumbles, had three sacks for minus-36 yards, and limited the Browns' third-down efficiency to 20 percent (2 for 10).

"We were here to just win and get on a plane," Bruschi said. "All three units put points on the board, and when you do that your chances of winning are pretty high."

 Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Defense was up for challenge

"That does not happen a lot, (where) offense, defense and special teams all put points on the board," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "Coming out with a big kickoff return at the beginning of the game was something we wanted to do. We scored, and that was the tone-setter of the game."

On Focus:

Want to talk about discipline? Linebacker Tedy Bruschi was asked on Sunday what he remembered most about the game vs. the Browns. “Winning,” he said. “That’s all I really remember. I don’t even remember what the score was. Just win the football game and get on the plane.”Only a couple of plane rides left in the regular season. The Patriots would like to have none in the playoffs, until one in late January.

December 6th ESPN the Magazine article by Tedy:

Bank of America kicks off region-wide toy drive
Monday, December 6, 2004

New England Patriots Linebacker Tedy Bruschi recently joined Bank of America Chairman Chad Gifford, New England Patriots? Chairman and Owner Robert Kraft, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston President and CEO Linda Whitlock to kick-off the region-wide toy drive that invites Bank of America customers and residents to stop by a local Bank of America banking center throughout New England and donate a toy through Dec. 17. Bank of America expects to collect 50,000 toys, which will then be donated to local community organizations. Toys collected in Eastern Massachusetts will be donated to the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, and then distributed to nonprofit organizations in Boston and Providence.  Over 1,000 local Bank of America branches in the northeast will be participating in the Holiday Toy Drive including six branches in the Neponset area  Canton's Washington Street, Dedham's Washington Street, Norwood's Washington Street and Rte. 1, Walpole's Main Street, and Westwood's High Street locations.

Manning no mystery: QB's success no surprise to Bruschi
By Kevin Mannix/ NFL Notes
Sunday, December 12, 2004

 

The unbreakable record is about to be broken. Maybe as soon as today, but certainly before the end of the season. Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning needs just five more touchdown passes to surpass Dan Marino's 20-year-old record of 48 touchdowns passes in a season.
 

     Others in the NFL have expressed amazement at Manning's production so far this year. And why not? When you throw 44 touchdown passes in 12 games, you're on an unprecedented, hellacious run.
 

     Patriots [stats, news] linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news], on the other hand, is not at all surprised by what Manning is doing this year. And he is an authority. Since 1998, when Manning entered the league, Bruschi's Patriots have faced Manning and the Colts 11 times.
 

     And despite Manning's 2-9 record against the Pats in those games, he has made his mark on Bruschi.
 

     ``When you see him play in that system with those people around him as often as we did, you just know it's a matter of time before numbers like these come up,'' Bruschi explained. ``You always had the feeling that one day the guy was going to throw eight touchdowns in a game.''
 

     Well, not quite. But Manning did have six touchdown passes against Detroit on Thanksgiving and threw for five against both Green Bay and Kansas City.
 

     Here are a few of the particulars on Manning's soon-to-be record season: Marvin Harrison has caught 12 of his touchdown passes. Reggie Wayne has 10, Brandon Stokely has nine, Marcus Pollard has six and Dallas Clark has five. Backup running back James Mungro has the other two.
 

     A total of 15 of those TD passes were between 1 and 5 yards in length. Six were between 6 and 10 yards. There have been seven between 11 and 20 yards and seven more between 21 and 30 yards. Five carried between 31 and 40 yards with four more going more than 40 yards.
 

     His two touchdowns against the Pats covered only 3 and 7 yards. With this defense you're not going to see a lot of long passes to free-wheeling receivers. That's not the way Bruschi and his mates play Romeo Crennel's defense.
 

     ``We always talk about being physical out there,'' Bruschi said. ``Offenses like to run down the field to make a catch. We don't like to let them play that way. We play a more physical game.''
 

     So why don't other defenses emulate the Pats defensive style?
 

     ``I don't know why they don't,'' Bruschi said. ``That's a question for another player on another team.''

This week's Notes and Quotes: 12/13/04

Week 14 -- Top Performers

These guys put up some great numbers for their owners last week:

Tedy Bruschi, Patriots: The Patriots' emotional leader continues to lead by example after a busy game against the Bengals. Stat Line: 10 tackles, 4 assists.

“Right now, I don’t even need it,” Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said of the lowlight reel. “I don’t even need it because of how well (the Bengals) playing right now. Just the win they had last week to go into Baltimore, which is an extremely tough place to play, and to pull out a win in the fourth quarter, that’s all I need to see about this team. . . . I know they’re playing good football right now.”

"I don't dismiss any game," said Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, recalling that practice-game loss to the Bengals that snapped an eight-game Patriots winning streak in pre-season games. "Because the way we approach things around here, we want to win no matter what the situation is whether it be pre-season, post-season or regular-season."

On the Playoff picture:

“We still want to improve right now, because it’s getting to be late in the year,” Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. “We want to gather some momentum up going into the playoffs now, and Miami is still a team that presents challenges.” The Patriots do acknowledge they have high stakes in these last three games – like home field.  “It’s very important,” Bruschi said. “We’ve gone on the road (2002 AFC title game) and won before. But the playoffs are the playoffs. When you get there, anything can happen.”

 

 

On the Miami game:

All I know is we're going down to Miami, and every time I've been down to Miami my entire career, it hasn't been too easy of a game," said inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi, a Patriot since 1996. "They play us tough. They've got a great defense and special teams. Their offense is still playing hard no matter what situation they've been in, and that's what we have to do. We have to go down there and be ready to win a football game."

 

 

Pats hope to bring the heat

By DAVID PEVEAR, Sun Staff

 

The weather is turning frightful up here, making it seem sacrilege for the Patriots to be playing down there in Miami tonight. The sound of Dolphins' teeth chattering has become such a Holiday tradition up here in New England. The Patriots' December game against the Dolphins last season stirred up a winter wonderland in Foxboro. Fans who burrowed into nearly two feet of unshoveled snow tossed it rhythmically into the Gillette Stadium-lit night air to the tune of Gary Glitter's Rock & Roll Part 2. "I like having flurries in the air when we play the Dolphins," said Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, whose interception return for a touchdown in a 12-0 victory last Dec. 7 inspired that snowy salute from the fans. "But that's not going to happen (tonight)."

Lowell Sun Online - Sports

 

On the Monday Night Football Game:

On paper, this one's a yawner that could have millions of Americans feeling like Fauria on most Monday nights.

"Does it bug me that ABC is (unhappy)?" Patriots outside linebacker Mike Vrabel repeated the question asked of him. "No, not at all. Just look at the history we've had down there. We don't go down there and have a lot of success."

True, the Patriots have won only once in their last six trips to South Florida — last year, 19-13, in overtime — but is that enough to seduce folks to tune in once Williams Jr. starts crooning?

"I don't care what TV wants," Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi added. "I've never cared what TV wants, the magazines or the papers. What we want is to continue to win football games, and what Miami wants is to win this football game. I'm sure the attitude in their locker room is to just win a game, win a game and go from there. We happen to be the next opponent on their schedule, and I'm sure they'll play us hard."

Perhaps.

The Enterprise at SouthofBoston.com

Pats look like pro's: Should make presence felt in Hawaii
By Kevin Mannix/ NFL Notes
Sunday, December 19, 2004

 

Fan voting for the 2005 Pro Bowl, which counts one-third of the total vote, ends today. Voting by the players and coaches, which account for the other two-thirds, takes place tomorrow with the rosters for the AFC and NFC teams being announced on Wednesday.
 

     A year ago the Pats won the Super Bowl but had only two players voted to the team - defensive tackle Richard Seymour [news] and cornerback Ty Law [news]. Linebacker/defensive end Willie McGinest [news] went as an alternate.
 

     This year, it's hard to envision there won't be a serious Patriots [stats, news] tinge to the Pro Bowl. In fact, if production and not popularity are criteria, the Pats could even match the domination of the Chiefs and Ravens a year ago, when each had six players voted to the team.
 

     The Pats should have at least that many. As in Rodney Harrison [news], Tedy Bruschi [news] and Seymour on defense. As in Adam Vinatieri [news] and Larry Izzo on special teams. As in Tom Brady [news] and Corey Dillon, and possibly Joe Andruzzi on offense.
 

     While deserving of a spot, a couple of those players may not make it. But it would be an absolute, total, unjustifiable miscarriage of justice if Harrison and Bruschi aren't selected.
 

     Ravens safety Ed Reed is having a defensive MVP kind of year in Baltimore, but nobody else has the kind of numbers Harrison does - a team-leading 122 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, six deflections, three forced fumbles. He's also tied for fifth in special teams tackles with 11.
 

     Even compared with Reed, Harrison is the best safety in the conference in both stats and intangibles.
 

     Among linebackers, Bruschi has always faced an uphill battle against the much more spectacular but less consistent Ray Lewis and Zach Thomas. Last year, Al Wilson of the Broncos joined those two as the AFC's inside linebackers.
 

     There's no way Bruschi shouldn't get to Hawaii this year. He's a full-time player in a defense that has dominated. Through 13 games he has 103 tackles, 3 sacks, two interceptions, four deflections and two forced fumbles, both of which were returned for touchdowns (by Seymour and Jarvis Green). And nobody makes the kind of timely, game-changing plays with as much regularity as Bruschi does.
 

     Lewis has 123 tackles but only one sack, no interceptions or forced fumbles.
 

     Thomas does have 132 tackles as well as two sacks, but has no interceptions or forced fumbles. He also plays for a 2-11 team and has missed the last two weeks and isn't expected to play tomorrow night against the Pats. Durability has to count for something.
 

     Wilson does have two interceptions and a sack but only 87 tackles

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Pats look like pro's: Should make presence felt in Hawaii

This week's Notes and Quotes: 12/21/04

 

On Curtis Martin:

Stopping Martin is a must for the Patriots. He has six 100-yard games against the Patriots since leaving as a free agent after the 1997 season, and the Jets are 6-0 in those games. Martin was held to just 70 yards in the teams’ first meeting, a hard-fought 13-7 Patriots win back on Oct. 24.

“It is all about Curtis,” Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. “Every time we play the New York Jets, all of the talk is about Curtis. I don’t want to say anything good about him because I have said so much before. The last time we played them, he was playing great and everybody was like, he has new life. Now he’s leading the league in rushing. I’m not surprised. Curtis is a great player.

“Whenever we play them he is the guy that first and foremost we have to stop,” Bruschi said.

 

"I don't think Curtis has ever had a bad year," Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi said yesterday.
 

Pats make merry
 

     A pack of New England Patriots hit Children's Hospital the other day to spread a little holiday cheer to the kids. More than 20 Pats, including Troy Brown, Ted Johnson, Joe Andruzzi, Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Larry Izzo, Matt Light, Christian Fauria, Lonnie Paxton, Josh Miller, Dan Koppen, Russ Hochstein, Matt Chatham, Dan Klecko and Stephen Neal visited the kids, signed autographs and mugged for photos with their young fans. Additionally, Andruzzi, along with his wife, Jen, presented a check for $243,000 to Children's Hospital. The money was gathered the previous night at the Andruzzis' annual fund-raiser in honor of cancer victim C.J. Buckley at the Funway Cafe in Foxboro.
 

 

Pro Bowl snubs -- Harrison, Bruschi miss the cut again
By Michael Felger
Thursday, December 23, 2004

 

FOXBORO - Despite winning two of the last three Super Bowls and 27 of their last 29 games, the Patriots [stats, news] will once again be lightly represented in the Pro Bowl. Only two Pats position players - Richard Seymour [news] (his third) and Tom Brady [news] (second) - were selected among voting by fans, players and coaches. Special team players Larry Izzo (third) and Adam Vinatieri [news] (second) were also chosen. As far as the Pats are concerned, the list is more notable for the players who were omitted than those who were included. Once again, safety Rodney Harrison [news] was left off, as was linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] and running back Corey Dillon. Prior to the announcement, Harrison restated why he and other Pats were left out. ``Popularity,'' he said. ``Favoritism.'

 

 

Notebook: Citing 'most important bowl,' Pats ignore Pro Bowl slight

01:00 AM EST on Friday, December 24, 2004

BY PAUL KENYON
Journal Sports Writer

 

FOXBORO -- This will not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the Patriots over the last few seasons: While others around them debated perceived snubs of several of the reigning Super Bowl champions in Pro Bowl selections, the Pats themselves seemed unfazed.

The New England players insisted, as they have in the past, that they are not concerned that players such as Rodney Harrison , Corey Dillon and Tedy Bruschi , all of whom have had outstanding seasons, were not voted onto the team.

"We know what the most important bowl is," said tight end Christian Fauria in reference to the game played the week before the Pro Bowl, the one called the Super Bowl. "That would be a very good consolation prize."

"I motivate myself just because I want to win football games," said Bruschi. "Would it have been nice to go to the Pro Bowl? Yeah. I'm not going to lie to you. But Ray [ Lewis] and [James] Farrior [the two middle linebackers taken], those are great, great players that have had great years."

 

Asked about the snub, Bruschi said, "I don't use it as motivation. The only thing that motivates me is to win football games. I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't have been happy to make it. But Ray and Farrior are great players that have had great years, so I say congratulations to them."

 

On the Jets game:

"We have a lot at stake because we want to win," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We want to put the last game behind us and move on. Last week, we didn't play too well on the road. This is another road test for us. We want to play well."

 

On Ted Johnson:

Said Tedy Bruschi [news]: ``We watch a lot of film, and I don't think there's another linebacker in the entire league who takes on a block like Ted does.''  To the naked eye, Johnson also appears to have added some quickness. Is that possible? ``I haven't noticed if he's gotten quicker or not, I just know that he's starting to string together a lot of good games,'' Bruschi said. ``To see him contribute on a consistent basis is something I look forward to, because I feed off his game.'' Johnson remains one of the best-liked and most respected players in the locker room, which makes this a feel-good story. A lot of people root for Johnson, although Bruschi wouldn't go there.  ``To say you're rooting for him is to say that he was down at one point,'' Bruschi said. ``To us, he was never down. He just had some things to battle back from, and we knew that no matter what it was, he was going to come back.''

Pro Bowl snub no big deal for Bruschi

BY MARK FARINELLA/SUN CHRONICLE STAFF

FOXBORO -- In his more private moments, Tedy Bruschi has to be wondering exactly what he has to do to get a trip to Hawaii out of the National Football League.

But at least for public consumption Thursday, the veteran inside linebacker of the Patriots was offering congratulations to those who were selected to the Pro Bowl and otherwise keeping his focus entirely upon this weekend's opponent, the New York Jets.
"I motivate myself just because I want to win football games,'' he said. "Would it have been nice to go to the Pro Bowl? Yes, I'm not going to lie to you. But Ray (Lewis of Baltimore) and (James) Farrior (of Pittsburgh), those are great, great players that have had great years, so I say congrats to them.''

There's probably no disputing those two selections. Lewis has 133 tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries for the Ravens' rugged defensive unit, while Farrior's 83 tackles and three sacks are only a part of the leadership he lends to the Steelers' defense.

However, Bruschi's stats are certainly Pro Bowl-worthy -- 106 tackles (71 solo), 3.5 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. On a team where the focus on individual goals and accomplishments is greater, you might get more of a sense of outrage from a similarly snubbed player.

But not from the Patriots, where the head coach sets the tone for how such disappointments are put into perspective.
 

"Every team in the league feels that there are players that fall into that category for them,'' Bill Belichick said Thursday. "So it's tough, because I thought we had a lot of guys who played well this year. There's no need to go through them all on a case-by-case basis, but I think we all know who some of our better players are. You'd like to see them get recognized, but that's the process, so there's nothing we can do about it. That's what it is.''
 

The Sun Chronicle Newspaper

 

Bruschi keys bruising 'D': Linebacker's huge day helps stop Martin, Jets
By Rich Thompson
Monday, December 27, 2004

 

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Patriots [stats, news] inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] wouldn't let the NFL's most effective tailback set the tone yesterday. That had a lot to do with the Pats running to a 23-7 win over the Jets.
 

     New York tailback Curtis Martin entered the contest leading the league with 1,511 yards (107.9 per game) through 14 games and had crossed the century mark an impressive eight times. The Patriots knew what their old running back could do and planned accordingly.
 

     With Bruschi leading the way with six solo tackles, two assists and an interception, the Patriots defense held Martin to 33 yards on 13 carries (2.5 average) with a long run of 5 yards. Martin's 33 yards represented the low-water mark of what's been a remarkable season for the future Hall of Fame running back.
 

     ``Curtis is always priority one when we play the Jets,'' said Bruschi, who is second on the team in tackles with 114.
 

     ``I mean, he's their biggest offensive weapon, we feel, so we wanted to contain him as best we could and see what receivers (Jets quarterback Chad) Pennington could hit. When you know Curtis like we do, we know we have to stop him.''
 

     Pennington posted some decent numbers, but overall his day was flawed. He completed 22-of-36 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown but was picked off twice and lost a fumble on the last of the Patriots' three sacks.
 

     Bruschi established his presence on the opening possession of the game while the Jets were driving. On first-and-10 from the New England 40-yard line, Bruschi dropped back into zone coverage and intercepted a Pennington pass intended for Wayne Chrebet.
 

     ``I had zone coverage and I had a crosser in front of me, and usually when you have a crosser in front of you there's a crosser behind you,'' Bruschi said. ``Chrebet was behind me and Chad kind of sort of put it up there to him as I continued to get some depth. I was able to get in front, see the ball and leap and catch the ball.''
 

     The fun began when Bruschi came down with the ball on the Patriots' 26 in the middle of the field. After quickly assessing the situation, he made a wild dash up field. Bruschi looked like an experienced kick return specialist as he directed his blockers while cutting against the grain. He was finally brought down by Jets tight end Chris Baker on the New York 38 after a 36-yard return.
 

     ``I was directing traffic a little bit,'' Bruschi said. ``I was in the middle of the field and I looked right and left. I saw more green jerseys to my right so I figured don't go there. I tried to cut it back to the left and Asante Samuel [news] kind of got a block for me. Baker the tight end was able to shed off a block and get to me.
 

     ``As returns go, it was a pretty good return.''
 

     Bruschi's partner behind the line, Ted Johnson [news], felt the Patriots were successful against the Jets by sticking to the basics.
 

     ``We put a lot of pressure on them in the second half, and Tedy's pick was huge,'' Johnson said. ``It didn't feel like we did anything exact. It was just a case of playing very fundamentally sound, and that's the way it is because we know we have a good defense.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Bruschi keys bruising 'D': Linebacker's huge day helps stop Martin, Jets

This week's Notes and Quotes: 12/27/04

 

On the Jets game:

But, Bruschi insisted, it was all about making plays. Lately, the Patriots weren't making enough on the field.

Sunday, Bruschi set the tone with the game's first big play -- an interception of a Chad Pennington pass to stop the Jets' first drive of the game at the Patriots 25.

"That was just something that told our team, and their team, 'Not today,'" said Bruschi, who now has three interceptions. "You're not going to take this opening drive and set the one on us like that.'"

The Jets wouldn't have another scoring chance like that until New England had a 23-0 lead in the fourth quarter.

"That's what turnovers do," said Bruschi. "That's what big plays do."

The Patriots put all their considerable talents on display Sunday in the Meadowlands. Quarterback Tom Brady bounced back from his four-interception lapse against Miami last week with a nearly-flawless performance -- 21 of 32 passing for 264 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Running back Corey Dillon rushed for 89 yards to set the team's single-season rushing record.

Deion Branch caught seven passes.

Bruschi and Eugene Wilson had interceptions. Three players had sacks.

Banged up Patriots defense guts it out

The Patriots (13-2) were coming off a surprising 29-28 defeat in Miami on Monday night. It was a challenge to change climates and face one of the NFL.'s top defenses with one day less than usual to prepare. "Maybe it was good," Bruschi said. "It gave us less time to think about it."

The Patriots held Curtis Martin, the league's leading rusher, to 33 yards. He came into the game with 1,511. "Even if he had only 1,000 yards, we'd still respect him as the first guy we had to stop," Bruschi said.

Bruschi, who led his team with eight tackles, said he was not yet thinking about the bye week and how it could help the healing of injured players.

"So many people have been down, we've had a lot of people step up," he said. "We're only concerned with who's in there and who's going to get the job done. Did we look like we had a lack of confidence out there? No."

The New York Times > Sports > Pro Football > Differences Revealed: A Good Team vs. a Very Good Team

This and that

You've got to love Tedy Bruschi [news]. Last Wednesday, the middle linebacker guaranteed the defense would ``make plays'' against the Jets. Then, four days after talking the talk, Bruschi walked the walk with his interception of Chad Pennington on the opening series. The play showed Bruschi at his physical and mental best, as he pointed out a shallow crossing route to teammates in front of him just split seconds before backing up and making a leaping grab of the ball. . . . BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Playoff success on line -- To win, big guys must protect QB

LINEBACKERS – A

     As was the case when the two teams met in Foxboro a couple of months ago, Tedy Bruschi [news] and Ted Johnson [news] made life miserable for their former teammate. Bruschi led the way against Martin with eight tackles and had a momentum-shifting interception on the Jets' first series. Johnson had six unassisted hits in the middle and Willie McGinest [news] and Mike Vrabel [news] made sure there would be no bounce-out lanes to the outside.  After holding Martin to 70 yards on 20 carries at Gillette Stadium in the first meeting, the Pats' interior defense was even better down at the Meadowlands. Martin was held to a season-low 33 yards on 13 carries with a long gain of only 5 yards. His 103 rushing yards in two games against the Pats was less than the 109 he averaged in the other 13 games he's played this year.

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Pats do all the talking

Player Of The Week

The Jets had the misfortune of facing the Patriots at the wrong time ... and Tedy Bruschi made them pay.

With their veteran linebacker leading the way, the Pats shut down RB Curtis Martin and forced three turnovers in breezing to a 23-7 triumph.

Bruschi made six unassisted tackles, helped on two more and picked off a Chad Pennington floater on New York's opening possession as New England rebounded from an embarrassing 29-28 loss at Miami.

``I was directing traffic a little bit,'' Bruschi said of his meandering 36-yard interception runback. ``It was a pretty good return.''

Martin entered as the league's No. 1 rusher, averaging 108 yards per game, but he was limited to 33 yards in 13 carries, with a long gain of 5 yards.

``I never really got myself in the flow of the game,'' Martin said. ``Obviously, everything we do is predicated on me getting the running game going. [Sunday], we just got our butts kicked.''

Tuesday Morning Quarterback -

Bruschi leads, teammates follow


By RUSS CHARPENTIER
FOXBORO - When yesterday's 21-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers had ended, after the Patriots had sealed their second consecutive 14-win season, Tedy Bruschi was hurriedly dressing at his locker and hoping for a quick exit.

Not likely. Not after leading the Patriots with 15 tackles, one shy of his career high, and playing all but the final three minutes of what was technically a meaningless contest. You might have excused Bruschi for having other things on his mind - his wife is due to deliver their third child tomorrow - but as the action unfolded on the Gillette turf, there he was, throwing himself into the fray time and time again.

"Right now, I'm thinking about my wife," Bruschi said. "I want to go out in the tunnel and hug her."

Before he left, though, the ninth-year linebacker shed a light on this New England team that has gone unbeaten at home the past two seasons, won 28 regular-season games in two years, and has its eyes on a winning third Super Bowl in the last four seasons.

Bruschi made it clear that to him and his teammates, yesterday's game was far from meaningless. There's a reason why Tom Brady played three entire quarters, and why Corey Dillon, incentives reached, re-entered the game to score a fourth-quarter touchdown, and why Bruschi and company played most of the game defensively.

"That's the way we are around here. We want to play good football," Bruschi said. "There's something about rest, but if you're in a tight game, you want to win.

"We wanted 14 (wins). I told Rac (defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel) after the game, that's the way I want to play a football game."

The Patriots played again yesterday without Ty Law, one of the game's top cornerbacks. Richard Seymour sat out, the status of his injured knee unknown to anyone outside the Patriot organization. Safety Eugene Wilson, tight end Daniel Graham and running back Kevin Faulk didn't play because of injuries.

It's been that way all season in Patriotland, yet the team, with two exceptions, kept on plugging. Now, thanks to the first-round bye, they hope two weeks will be enough time for their ailing to heal.

"You want your best out there (in the playoffs)," Bruschi said. "Ty's our best defensive back, Richard's our best defensive lineman. That's how we have to take advantage of these two weeks ... get them back."

Of course, there's always the chance the injured won't be back, and won't be suiting up in two weeks when the Patriots host, most likely, high-flying Peyton Manning and the Colts.

"We can't look at it that way," Bruschi said. "If we do, you'd worry about things you ordinarily wouldn't. You have to approach it the same way you did regular season."

Which proves, as tight end Jed Weaver said after equaling his season total yesterday with four receptions, that everyone is interchangeable. Weaver was signed by the Patriots after highly regarded rookie tight end Ben Watson was hurt. That Weaver was even available to New England was surprising. He had signed a three-year deal with Denver and even bought a house, then was cut.

"In this league, everything is written in pencil," said Weaver. "It stinks what happened to Ben. But on this team, you're expected to step up when someone's out."

Bruschi's point entirely.

"If one guy's down, you look at who's next," Bruschi said. "Is it Earthwind (Moreland)? Is it Don Davis playing safety? You trust them. There's a reason they're in the locker room. They are good football players. I expect it of them and I think they expect it of themselves."

It has become the Patriot way. You do not let your teammates down. It is their mantra. So when most everyone looks at a game like yesterday as meaningless, the Patriots take it as yet another measuring stick.

"Twenty-eight wins in two seasons," said Bruschi. "I'm proud of that. Unbeaten at home in two years. You always want to play well in front of your fans, protect your turf. I'm proud of that."

Bruschi said he'll rest, work out and watch all the playoff games next weekend to see who the Patriots will be playing. His wife, new baby and two other young sons might have a little bit to say about that, but then this is the postseason.

"We're going to be judged in the playoffs," said Bruschi. "When those critical situations come about, are we going to make the play? We've done it in the past and have to do it again."

Which is why Randall Gay, who filled in for Law, was saying, "Everybody here has been getting me prepared for what I'm going to go through now. The real season."

Get ready, New England. Your Patriots, whoever may be healthy, will be. Bruschi and company will see to that.

Russ Charpentier column (January 3, 2005)

Defense won't rest
By Rich Thompson
Monday, January 3, 2005

FOXBORO - Patriots [stats, news] inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] didn't let the significance of yesterday's 21-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers alter his frantic style.

     Even though the Patriots (14-2) had already locked up the second seed in the AFC playoffs and a guaranteed first-round bye, Bruschi attacked the 49ers as if the Patriots were fighting for the final wild card spot.

     Bruschi led the Patriots with 15 tackles to improve his season total to 129. He came up one short of the season-high 16 tackles he logged in the Patriots' loss at Pittsburgh on Halloween. Bruschi's mantra is full-tilt, full-time, and it didn't matter that the 49ers were an aimless, mismanaged club with a 2-13 record.

     ``This game here, we played the whole game because that's just the way we are around here,'' said Bruschi, a ninth-year pro out of Arizona who started all 16 games this season. ``There is something about rest, but we were in a tight game and we just want to win football games. That's the bottom line and that's the situation we were in. This was a game a lot of people didn't look at as important, but in this locker room we wanted to win the game.

     ``We wanted 14 wins and that's the only way I wanted to finish a football season. I wanted to play the entire game no matter what the situation is. Leave me in, I want to play.''

     Bruschi had to perform at his optimum level because 49ers tailback Kevan Barlow refused to roll over, despite the circumstances. The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Barlow exhibits a running style similar to Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis, and he isn't shy about making middle linebackers earn their money.

     Barlow continued to run hard even when it was obvious the 49ers were on their way to their 14th lost cause. Barlow finished the game with 103 yards on 25 carries and he earned Bruschi's respect with that effort.

     ``I've watched him, I've followed him and he's always a guy that runs hard,'' Bruschi said. ``He was running hard, and I think our guys were looking forward to the chance to put some licks on him.

     ``He's a big, physical runner and he gets up and lets you know that he's physical. He'll say a couple of things, but hey, we're physical too, and we kept hitting him.''

     Patriots strong safety Rodney Harrison [news] is a defensive back with a linebacker's mentality and the numbers to substantiate that approach. Harrison finished second to Bruschi with nine tackles and improved his team lead to a career-high 139. Harrison registered 138 tackles last season and was named to the All-Pro team for his efforts.

     ``That (49ers record) never entered into it,'' Harrison said. ``The fact is we were on all cylinders, communicating and not missing tackles.

     ``From a mental standpoint, we made all the adjustments. From a defensive standpoint, we had guys out there flying around, knocking balls down and making tackles. We made sure we played hard.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Defense won't rest

Winning matters to Pats

FOXBORO, Mass. - Technically, it was meaningless. The Patriots' 21-7 victory yesterday over San Francisco did not impact the NFL's big picture. New England (14-2) was locked into the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs and the 49ers (2-14) were locked out of the postseason weeks ago.

But don't tell the Patriots this regular season finale was meaningless.

"You can say it doesn't mean anything, but it does mean something," quarterback Tom Brady said.

"It means something to us. We are 14-2, one of the three teams in history that have back-to-back 14-2 seasons."

Brady wasn't alone in his quest for 14.

"I know a lot of people weren't looking forward to this game, but we wanted 14. We wanted 14 wins,"said Tedy Bruschi, who played in all four quarters. "I told (Patriots Coach Bill Belichick) that the only way I want to finish a football season is to play the whole game."

Bruschi probably didn't need to tell his coach anything.

"They're football players. They like to play football. It's football season," Belichick said.

This is the Patriot way. They have taken the "one game at a time" cliché to new heights. Every week they tell you that game is the most important game. Since they've now won 31 of their last 33 games, it was easy to believe them. But it wasn't so easy this week. The 49ers are as bad as their record and the Pats had no tangible incentives to win. How could this be the most important game?

"Look," Belichick said earlier this week, sounding like an angry school teacher, "the importance of practicing and playing now is to continue to get better, to build our performance to the highest level we can get it to because that's where it's going to need to be."

Still, it wasn't easy to believe. Belichick, after all, portrays every opponent as a collection of superstars. This was just more hype.

But when Bruschi took on the angry teacher persona after the game, you started to believe that yesterday's game, as mundane and sloppy as it often was, really was the most important game.

"To go undefeated at home is something that I can say I'm proud about," said Bruschi, his eyes burning into a crowd of doubtful reporters surrounding his locker. "To win 14 two years in a row, that's quite an accomplishment. Those are things we wanted to do."

And those are things the 68,756 fans in attendance wanted to see them do. Don't tell those fans it was meaningless. They sold out a New England home game for the 114th consecutive time. They rose to their feet when the teams took the field. They went wild when Bethel Johnson returned a punt for a touchdown, and then groaned when it was called back for a penalty. They booed when Corey Dillon fumbled. They stood and screamed when Todd Peterson's field goal hit the post in the second quarter. They got loud when their Pats went for it on fourth-and-2 with 0:25 left in the third quarter.

And the 68,756 didn't start leaving Gillette Stadium until there was just nine minutes left in the contest and the Pats, leading by two touchdowns, forced a turnover on downs that iced the game.

That's pretty impressive staying power considering it was an allegedly meaningless game and the 12th coldest game (32 degrees, 27 with the wind chill, at kickoff) played in Foxboro since 1993. But the fans that stayed, and that was the majority of them, still gave Gillette Stadium a meaningful air when they let out a collective, disappointed sigh when a Rohan Davey bomb slipped through Johnson's fingers in the fourth quarter.

"Nobody gave up and that's what we talked about all week, just going out there and playing a solid game," said Matt Light, who was talking about his Patriot teammates, but could have been talking about the Patriot fans.

Don't tell Jed Weaver the game was meaningless. Weaver - the back-up, back-up tight end who saw some playing time because starter Daniel Graham was one of eight inactive Patriots - seized his opportunity and had four receptions for 62 yards against his former team.

"You want to be hitting the same as everybody else and it was definitely good to get out there,"Weaver said. "Everything steps up in the playoffs and it's two steps faster and as you get closer to the big game every game is two steps faster."

And don't tell Dillon it was meaningless. His 29-yard run in the third quarter put him over 1,600 yards for the season (the first Patriot to ever break that mark) and triggered a $375,000 bonus in his contract. That much money is always meaningful. Don't tell rookie running back Cedric Cobbs it was meaningless. Cobbs gained 13 yards on a fourth-quarter run, the longest of his young career. Don't tell rookie defensive lineman Marquise Hill it was meaningless. Hill got on an NFL field for the first time in his life. And don't tell it to Je'Rod Cherry, who downed two punts inside the 5-yard line.

"Those are the kind of things you don't see every game,"Belichick said of Cherry's special teams plays.

If you still think this game didn't mean anything and that the Patriots just waltzed through it, listen to Rodney Harrison, who played alongside the burning Bruschi in all four quarters.

"I'm still excited," Harrison said. "I'm ready to play again right now if I have to."

Of course, Harrison didn't have to play immediately. The Pats won't have to play for two weeks because they've earned a bye week. How did they earn it? By treating each game, each week and each opponent as the most important and most meaningful one, no matter who, when or where.

Concord Monitor Online

This week's Notes and Quotes: 01/03/05

``You want your best out there, playoff football especially,'' Tedy Bruschi [news] said following yesterday's 21-7 season-ending win. ``Ty is our best DB. Richard is our best defensive lineman. I would miss them, definitely. Our defense would miss them. Hopefully, we can take advantage of these two weeks. But we can't worry about things we can't control.

     ``If one guy goes down, you look who's next. Is it Earthwind (Moreland)? Is it Don Davis? And you trust them. There's a reason they're in the locker room. Even if a linebacker is playing safety, he's got to get it done. It's expected. I expect it, and I think they expect it of themselves.''

     That way of thinking certainly got the job done during the regular season, but again, the postseason is a different animal. As for the offense, it doesn't make me quite as jittery as the secondary, but it's had its moments.

     All in all, is this 14-2 team as good as last year's team? Before the season started, the thinking was it was better with the addition of Corey Dillon. And with all the parts in place, it is better. But that's not the case right now.

     ``I think we're a good football team,'' said Bruschi, ``but we're going to be judged in the playoffs when those critical situations come about. Are we going to make the plays? We've done that in the past. We've just got to do that again.''
BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Pats have flaws: Still vulnerable despite 14-2 mark

Tedy Bruschi intends to watch as much football as he can next weekend.  "It'll be nice to be in the position of being able to watch," he said, "and I'll watch. I think you have to watch these games, and not just because we'll be playing one of the teams, but because you get to see how games are won and lost in the playoffs, and I think we need to see that."
The Daily Item of Lynn: More Coverage > Pats happy about week off

 

 

"The Super Bowl is not the next game, so I'm not sure how real it is," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "Right now, I'm not thinking about a game because we don't have one for two weeks. I'm going to go out in the tunnel, hug my wife, and go home."

Patriots trying to forge a new brand of dynasty

PATRIOTS MVP: For the game and for the season the answer is Dillon.

Honorable mentions from yesterday include linebacker Tedy Bruschi and Brady. Bruschi piled up 15 tackles and was a force as usual. His absence from the Pro Bowl is a shame. If more people saw him on a regular basis, the rest of the country would know what Patriots Nation already knows about Full Tilt, Full Time Tedy. Brady threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns, but an interception (a tipped ball that was not his fault) and strip-sack fumble marred his day.

The Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News - 03-Jan-05 - Patriots Notebook: Dillon delivers

 

Patriots remain razor-sharp at Gillette

Monday, January 3, 2005

FOXBORO, Mass. — Two seasons, no losses at home. As the New England Patriots rolled to their second consecutive 14-2 regular season with Sunday's 21-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at chilly Gillette Stadium, they have also established one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL.

Sunday's victory was the Patriots' 19th consecutive victory at Gillette Stadium, including playoffs. It is the NFL's longest current home winning streak. They finished their second consecutive 8-0 regular season at home.

"I'm proud of that," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "I'm especially proud of being unbeaten at home. You always want to play good football in front of the home fans, you want to protect your home turf.

"It really is special when we play here because of the fans and the atmosphere we have here. And just to show them that we're going to play hard for them, that we appreciate them, and to be able to go undefeated two years at home, is something I'm very proud of."

Patriots remain razor-sharp at Gillette

"We played the whole game because that's the way we are around here," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who accounted for a game-high 15 tackles. "We wanted 14. After the game, I told 'Rac' (defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel) the only way I'd want to finish the football season was by playing the whole game."

The 14th win marked an encore performance for the Patriots, who also went 14-2 last season before embarking upon their successful postseason run to their Super Bowl XXXVIII championship.

"With a little time off, you reflect on that a little bit," said Bruschi. "Twenty-eight wins in two seasons: That's pretty good. I'm proud of that. I'm proud of the fact that we've never lost in front of our fans in two years."

The Enterprise at SouthofBoston.com

 

 

These are the guys I'd want in my foxhole

By Dan Pompei - Sporting News

 

Inside linebacker -- Tedy Bruschi, Patriots. Nobody blends intelligence and aggressiveness quite like Bruschi. He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played.

 

 

Grogan's Grade 01/03/05

RRM: One player we never talk about much, Tedy Bruschi, finished the season in style, making 15 tackles. I guess he didn’t get the memo about this being a meaningless game?

SG: Tedy Bruschi has had a great year and really deserves to be in the Pro Bowl. This is a guy who just every week goes out and does his job as well as or better than anyone around. He just never seems to get the recognition he deserves and I hope that changes for him because he really deserves it.

NFL News    
 
Plummer, Bruschi, Reed nab AFC awards  

DEFENSE: LB TEDY BRUSCHI, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

In a 21-7 victory against San Francisco for the team's second-consecutive 14-2 regular season record, New England's Bruschi led the Patriots with 15 tackles and played a key role in limiting the 49ers to one touchdown. The San Francisco native recorded nine tackles within three yards of the line of scrimmage against his hometown team. Five of his 15 stops were made one yard beyond the scrimmage line or for a loss. Bruschi and the Patriots finished the season tied for the second-fewest points allowed in the league (16.3 per game). The AFC East champions earn a bye this week and will host an AFC Divisional playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 16, at 4:30 p.m. ET.

This is the fourth career Player of the Week distinction for the 6-1, 247-pounder from Arizona and his second of the season (Week 4).

On Pete Carroll

Carroll's name has already been mentioned in connection with NFL openings, including the one up the coast with the 49ers, who fired Dennis Erickson. Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi thinks the San Francisco native should stay where he is.

"He could win two or three more national championships the way he's going," Bruschi said. "I would ride that out."

Carroll came to New England following the team's ugly divorce with Bill Parcells, who took a moribund franchise and led it to the AFC championship. But with Carroll coaching and general manager Bobby Grier picking the players, the Patriots regressed and fans lamented Parcells' departure.

"It was just sort of a downward spiral: 10-6, 9-7, 8-8 and out the door," Bruschi said.

"Pete just didn't get the job done the way we're doing it now," Bruschi said. "I still think he can be a good NFL coach."

Carroll's former players rooting for coach

 

Report Card /Mannix

LINEBACKERS – A

     Tedy Bruschi had another big game against a power-running offense. With Barlow concentrating on pounding away between the guards, Bruschi stepped up again, as he did against the Jets last week. He had a game-high 15 tackles and forced a fumble.

Linebackers (A)

This is where the Patriots are unrivaled in the NFL, going 9 deep. Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel, Ted Johnson, Roman Phifer and Roosvelt Colvin saw most of the snaps with help coming from Tully Banta-Cain, Larry Izzo and Don Davis. Bruschi had another outstanding season finishing with 123 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3 interceptions and 6 passes deflected. Like a clutch hitter in baseball, Bruschi routinely made the biggest plays when the Patriots needed him most and will retire a Patriot, after signing a new deal before the season started. McGinest led the team with 9.5 sacks and now has 71 for his career and like Bruschi, made play after play when games were on the line.

BillsReport.com: AFC East Report: Week 17

Proper perspective

New England’s veterans should be mentally prepared for the playoffs, but linebacker Tedy Bruschi said he’ll help make sure the rookies - and anyone else without postseason experience - are ready.

"We’ve got a lot of experience, and that helps. I think it helps because, as you can see, when we got the bye and clinched the division, we weren’t running around popping champagne.

"We’ve been here before. We know what to expect, but we have to remember there are guys who don’t know what to expect. That’s where our concern is - to help them and let them know how it’s going to be. That’s why this time off will help."

Bruschi, who is the subject of a profile in this week’s Sports Illustrated, has been with the Patriots since 1996 and has played in 12 postseason games - seven of them starts.

The Middletown Press

 

Patriots' pair All-Pro

Richard Seymour and Adam Vinatieri could not have more different roles on the football field, but the two share a couple of things. Both have made significant contributions to the New England Patriots' winning 14 games this regular season, and both were named to The Associated Press 2004 NFL All-Pro Team yesterday. Inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi and safety Rodney Harrison were each named to the second team.

On Wild Card Weekend:

"I think it's important to watch playoff football whether you're in or out of the playoffs," inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "I think it's important to see what wins and loses championship playoff games. These are playoff games and to see the things that are being done right out there and seeing things that are being done wrong (is important). You can see that just from watching it."

 

Handing out the postseason hardware

Most under-appreciated: Rodney Harrison, SS, New England and Tedy Bruschi, LB, New England. Like many teams, the Patriots dealt with a lot of injuries. Much was made of their need to play undrafted rookie Randall Gay and wide receiver Troy Brown at cornerback. Harrison isn't popular because he deals out vicious hits and speaks his mind, but he was secondary's glue and the heart and soul of a defense that finished ninth overall. Bruschi rarely gets mentioned about the league's best linebackers, but he's a clutch performer.

Handing out the postseason hardware - Thursday, 01/06/05

 

NFL.com national editor Vic Carucci, a former Buffalo News writer and one of the best guys in the business, consulted with a panel of national NFL writers and broadcasters to come up with his annual NFL All-Interview team. Here's a look at the pro's pros:

Linebackers: Tedy Bruschi, New England; Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay; Ray Lewis, Baltimore

 

Continued on 2004 Post Season Articles page.

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