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Updated    12/05/10

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TotallyTedy

2004 Post Season

Click here for entire Bruschi Article Archive

 

Every Team Needs a Bruschi

Make that Tedy Bruschi, and New England has the only one. The big-play linebacker and unsung leader of the defense gives the Pats a shot at their third title in four years
 

By Josh Elliott/Sports Illustrated

He is outnumbered again, staring down a menacing double team. If it's fair to say a man's work is never done, then right here -- at the backdoor to his house, after several hours of trading blows and barbs with his New England Patriots teammates -- Tedy Bruschi's long day isn't over yet. When the two young boys lunge at him, chirping with delight, Bruschi sees himself in their tiny faces and hears his own father's words: Get the ball, Tedy. Go get the ball. Those words, which were sometimes said in derision, have motivated Bruschi since he was a child.

The Bruschi boys set upon their dad again and jog him from his reverie, throwing themselves at him over and over. Later, as he is recounting this scene, Bruschi couldn't be happier. "My boys are just like me: really physical," Bruschi says of Tedy Jr., 4, and Rex, 2. "Every day it's a big tackle-athon. I love it. They never quit. They play just like their dad -- and just like their dad's team."

While the Pittsburgh Steelers (15-1) are the AFC's nouveau power and the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) are the class of the NFC, the NFL playoffs remain the domain of the defending champion New England Patriots (14-2). Winners of 29 of their last 31 games (including the postseason), the Pats have a first-round bye before beginning their quest for a third Super Bowl win in four seasons with a divisional-round game on the weekend of Jan. 15-16. New England is the league's model franchise because each player, no matter his position or cap figure, embraces coach Bill Belichick's team-first philosophy. "I know one thing," says Bruschi, 31, a New England linebacker for nine years. "I was meant to play with these 52 guys, for this coach, in this system."

Indeed, Bruschi seems the picture-perfect Patriot. Hard-nosed and a vocal leader, Bruschi (pronounced BREW-ski, to the joy of beer-swilling, pigskin-loving New Englanders) is admired for his toughness and loyalty to an organization that risked a third-round draft choice on him in 1996, when he was an undersized defensive end out of Arizona. And long before Pats defensive tackles lined up as fullbacks and wideout Troy Brown intercepted three passes as a part-time cornerback, Bruschi's versatility was celebrated. Too small, at 6'1" and 245 pounds, to play end in the NFL, he learned three linebacker positions in two schemes under three coaches. Though unheralded in a conference that features the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis and the Miami Dolphins' Zach Thomas, he has become an All-Pro-caliber inside linebacker and routinely makes game-breaking plays.

But to understand a player so humble that he wonders aloud who would ever read an article about him, ask Bruschi what he considers to be his most important contribution each week. "Punt team," he says, not missing a beat. "The punt's the most important play in a game. So many things can happen: a turnover, a score, a big change in field position. My college coach, Dick Tomey, told me he didn't care who I was -- he needed me on punt team. So I covered punts, and still do. I love covering punts."

Says New England linebacker Mike Vrabel, "Everybody needs a Tedy Bruschi, but good luck finding one. It's impossible to put value on everything the guy does. When he walks into a meeting or a huddle, he brings instant credibility. He's been productive for so long, even though he's had to switch positions. He's everything for this team."

This year Bruschi finished with 122 tackles, second best on the team, and 3 1/2 sacks for the NFL's ninth-ranked defense. But for all his fundamental strengths, it's his knack for making the big play that sets him apart. "Their defense isn't the same without him," says New York Jets center Kevin Mawae. "He plays 100 miles an hour. He makes plays that are unbelievable."

In pass coverage Bruschi reads the quarterback as well as any other linebacker, and that anticipation enables him to jump underneath passing routes. His soft hands allow him to catch many of those throws, and his speed makes him a threat to return interceptions for big gains and points. "When we drafted him [as a linebacker], everybody knew that he could rush the passer, play the run, that he was tough as hell," says Belichick. "But his anticipation, his ball skills, after never dropping into coverage in his life.... He's just tremendous." Indeed, over a span covering parts of the 2002 and '03 seasons, Bruschi set an NFL record by returning four consecutive interceptions for touchdowns.

Ask the Patriots which of Bruschi's plays is the most memorable, and the vote is unanimous. On Dec. 7, 2003, with New England holding a 3-0 fourth-quarter lead over Miami and the Dolphins taking over at their four-yard line, Jay Fiedler threw a dart into the flat that Bruschi, standing just a few yards away, stabbed out of the air. His waltz into the end zone followed by a slide on his knees set off a celebration during which Patriots fans tossed snow and turned Gillette Stadium into a winter wonderland as they celebrated the franchise's clinching of the AFC East. "Any other linebacker in the league knocks that ball down," says New England special teams ace Larry Izzo. "But Tedy caught the damn thing and then scored. Impossible."

"When he made that play," adds linebacker Roman Phifer, "we all got a sense that maybe we were something special." They were, indeed: The 12-0 victory was the ninth straight in a winning streak that stretched to an NFL-record 21 games before a 34-20 loss in Pittsburgh on Oct. 31.

"Everyone can make a big play," says Bruschi. "It's all about that moment, that split second, when you decide what you are going to do: Are you going to just knock the pass down, or will you catch it? Are you going to sack the quarterback, or will you force the fumble? You need time [in the NFL] to build to a level where you know what you can do with your talent. It took me years just to get comfortable."

Raised in San Francisco and Roseville, Calif., by his mother, Juanita, after his parents divorced when he was three (Juanita remarried two years later), Bruschi was initially steered toward music and the arts; he still plays alto sax at recitals with students from the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass. His relationship with his father, Tony, was strained. "I saw him on weekends," Tedy says, "so we could only do so much." Tedy started playing football as a freshman at Roseville High, and unsure where to go when the team split into position groups at the first practice, he was told by a coach to join the defensive linemen. He was devastated after Tony told his son that he was too small to play on the line. "We'd have huge fights on the phone," Tedy recalls. "It wasn't pretty." Nevertheless, as a senior Tedy earned all-Northern California honors as a defensive tackle.

When Bruschi arrived at Arizona in 1991, the questions kept coming from the media about his lack of size. But by his redshirt sophomore year he'd emerged as one of the leaders of Arizona's Desert Swarm defense, and he finished his college career with 52 sacks, tying Alabama's Derrick Thomas (later of the Kansas City Chiefs) for the NCAA record. All the while Tedy's father kept telling him to move to linebacker. "He could say what he wanted, but I was doing it," Bruschi says. "I could put my numbers up against anyone in the history of college football. That made me feel good about myself."

So did meeting Heidi Bomberger, a volleyball and softball player at Arizona, in the fall of '93. She was someone Tedy could turn to after angry conversations with his dad. "Having his father doubt him hurt Tedy much more than I think he'll ever admit," says Heidi, who married Tedy in the summer after his rookie season. "Those conversations would always affect him. But he just used the negativity as motivation."

Though Bruschi lacked a natural position, Patriots linebackers coach Al Groh (now the coach at Virginia) wanted him. When Bruschi got the phone call at his apartment on draft day, he was stunned. "I hear, 'Tedy, this is Bill Parcells. We're going to try you at linebacker. Here's Al Groh,'" Bruschi says. "And that was that. I was terrified."

He walked out of the living room, Heidi recalls, and announced, "New England just took me. I'm going to do everything I can to stay there for the rest of my career."

During his rookie season Bruschi was tried at all three linebacker positions in Parcells's 4-3, and of course, he made himself useful on special teams. "It took me almost two years not to laugh when I called myself a linebacker," says Bruschi, who played primarily in passing situations during his first year. "But I was scared. Learning the position was the hardest thing I'd ever done. I'd never played a down without my hand [in a three-point stance]. I was dropping into pass coverage on handoffs. I didn't know what I was seeing. I didn't know how to study film -- and I was making [some of the] defensive calls. I was just hanging on."

When Pete Carroll replaced Parcells after Bruschi's rookie season -- which ended with a Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers -- Bruschistarted to relax and finally felt comfortable while playing inside; in 1999 he was second on the team with 138 tackles. Belichick, who had served as New England's secondary coach in '96, returned as coach in 2000, and Bruschi became a force. "Bill wanted us to be physical, always physical," Bruschi says. "For me, that meant attacking the roaming guards. I'd never done that, but I just went for it. Most places, they ask you to run around guys to the ball. Here, we go through guys."

For all his ferocity on the field, what fans don't see -- and what teammates appreciate -- is his sense of humor and his kindness. He's also a doting husband and father, in part because he finally came to feel like a loving, and beloved, son. In April 2000, after years of disagreements, Tony persuaded Tedy and Heidi to visit him in his hometown of Pontestrambo, Italy, to which he had returned in the late '90s. "It was a self-exploratory experience Tedy needed," says Heidi. "And they both got closure. They fixed the relationship."

While in Italy, Heidi learned she was pregnant with Tedy Jr. The following December, Tony returned to the U.S. to see his newborn grandson, but it was the last time he would be together with Tedy and his family. Shortly thereafter Tony died from prostate cancer. "I'm just happy he got to see my son," says Tedy, his voice catching.

"I have no doubt that Tedy's the dad to his kids that he wished he'd always had," Heidi says. "He's available, he's interested in them. He realizes that his kids want their daddy's attention." At team functions Bruschi shoots video of all the players' children and delivers DVDs of the events to amazed teammates the next day. He no longer watches game tape at home; instead he stays late at the club's practice facility. "I'm all theirs when I'm home," he says of his time with the boys. "If I'm thinking of work at home, I'm cheating my family."

He credits Heidi with his transformation from Tucson party boy to North Attleboro family man. "She makes me want to be better," he says. "I can't imagine a better partner." To the chagrin of teammates, he sets the doting-hubby bar awfully high. He sends flowers with such frequency that his calls to the Foxboro Flower Garden are met with, "What's Heidi getting this week?" Usually, it's her favorite, stargazer lilies, even though their aroma is so pungent that it gives him headaches. "Or on the morning after a game," says Heidi, who on Monday was expected to deliver the couple's third child, "after moaning and tossing and turning all night from the pain from Sunday's game, he'll sneak out of bed at 6:30 and let me sleep in because it's the one morning he can [assist with the kids]. It's small, but it's so loving. He wants to help."

Now, when Bruschi thinks of his father, he recalls bits and pieces of Tony's wisdom and appreciates "how much raising my dad actually did," he says. "I hear him all the time now. It's funny, but he was the first one who told me I'd play middle linebacker in the pros. Guess I should've listened to him."

Bruschi is sitting in Luciano's, an Italian restaurant a few miles south of Gillette Stadium. He takes a last sip of cranberry juice and excuses himself, exchanges greetings with a few admiring patrons and slips out a side door. There are little Bruschis waiting for him at home, small and ferocious, and always coming back for more.

Weather: Pats like it outside
By Karen Guregian
Friday, January 7, 2005

 

FOXBORO - Football is meant to be played outdoors. Without a roof overhead. In the elements. In places like New England.
 

     That's real football.
 

     Then, there is the brand that is played indoors. Dome football. On a carpet. In a pristine, climate-controlled environment. Where playoff teams such as the Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams, Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings play their home games.
 

     We'll call that faux football.
 

     Not every football player agrees with that assessment. Some really don't care about the type of venue. Football is football. It's as basic and fundamental as that.
 

     Others, however, aren't as fond of the indoor version, and you can almost guess some of the names of the players in the Patriots [stats, news] locker room who support the original premise.
 

     ``I love the fact I play here. I don't want to play in a dome. I love the fact we're grass, you can look at the field right now and it's ugly,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] said Wednesday, as the snow fell on Gillette Stadium. ``That's the only place I want to play, on an ugly, muddy football field. That's football.
 

     ``Growing up in San Francisco, I used to play on the streets, running into cars in the parking lot. So I want it ugly.''
 

     You might say there's something about a carpet that rubs Bruschi the wrong way. He'll debate you all day long about the merits of grass vs. carpet.
 

     ``It just feels different. It's not the same,'' Bruschi said. ``I should have spikes coming out of my shoes. I should have grass stains on my uniform. That's the way I feel it should be. I shouldn't come out of a game with turf burns on my elbows.''
 

     Many purists have long agreed. Football isn't supposed to be a clean game. Dirty uniforms are part of the charm. So are games played in inclement weather. And this time of year, that means games in freezing rain, sleet and snow.
 

     Some of the most memorable Patriots games in the recent past involve foul weather. Who can forget the final game played at Foxboro Stadium, otherwise known as the Snow Bowl vs. Oakland? That 2001 playoff victory over the Raiders on a frozen field blanketed with white powder was magical.
 

     Or how about last year's regular-season game with the Miami Dolphins [stats, news], when fans celebrated touchdowns with their version of snow fireworks, tossing up the white stuff in unison all over the stadium with every score.
 

     Given the way it is, without similar facilities, the truly great teams should be able to win in any environment, on any kind of field or surface.
 

     The Colts, a potential foe for the Pats next Sunday, haven't been as dominant playing without a roof overhead. Of their four losses this season, three have come outdoors (New England, Kansas City, Denver). Peyton Manning also hasn't had quite the same success playing in less than ideal conditions.
 

     During last year's AFC Championship in Foxboro - in the snow - Manning had a miserable time, throwing four interceptions.
 

     The good news is the Patriots will play all of their remaining games outdoors, including the Super Bowl in Jacksonville, should they get that far.
 

     They won't have snow in the ultimate game, but they also won't have turf burn.
 

     ``I think when you get to a playoff game, you don't care what (the weather) is. You don't let it affect you. It's a game you've been waiting for your whole career,'' Bruschi said, ``but snowy, cold and windy . . . that's perfect conditions for me.''
 

     In other words, yesterday would have been a great day for football.

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Weather: Pats like it outside

While others kick off, Patriots will kick back

FOXBOROUGH -- Some of them watched playoff football yesterday afternoon and again last night. Some will be back on the sofa or Barcalounger today when the Colts take on the Broncos at 1 p.m.

Of course, not all of the Patriot players are as football-crazed as their fans. Four playoff games in two days is a lot of TV time, and the Lawless Patriots don't want square eyes when they reconvene at the stadium tomorrow for their first practice in five days. NFL players don't get much family time on weekends during football season.

Routines vary for those enjoying a bye weekend while eight other worthy teams slug it out.

Bill Belichick will watch today's Colts-Broncos game in his Gillette Stadium office (you thought he'd be at the Opera House for "The Lion King"?). He's already junked his Chargers file. The Patriots' opponent next Sunday is going to be either the Jets or the Colts if they win today. Another file will be tossed sometime around 4 p.m. this afternoon.

The coach and his staff will be at the stadium. The players will be scattered throughout the region, some watching football, others merely waiting for someone to tell them whom they're playing next weekend.

"I'll definitely be watching," said Tom Brady. "I'm still trying to figure out what the other teams are doing and what's going on. It's not the same as watching when you are a fan. When I watched USC and Oklahoma, I was very much a fan. But in these games, I'm trying to study what they're doing. It's definitely different. It's not as much fun."

Think of it this way. Most of us enjoy movies and books. But the enjoyment is tempered if you are assigned to write a movie review or book critique after you've finished. It'll be a similar experience for Brady and the rest of the Patriots who watch the Colts on TV today.

"As much as I do enjoy watching the football part, it's still tempered by the fact that we're trying to get ready to play a football game," said the quarterback. "When the offense is on the field, I'm more of a fan. When the defense is on the field I'll say, `Oh, that play wasn't that good,' or `We won't let that happen.' "

Veteran linebacker Willie McGinest said, "We'll watch the games and get some information from them. We're looking for certain things, certain keys. But you don't play everybody the same, so some of these teams will play us different than what we'll see on TV."

Christian Fauria, Tedy Bruschi, and Joe Andruzzi each have three children. Their TV game days are different from those of their bachelor teammates. Even during the playoffs

Bruschi plans to be in bed, rolling around with his two oldest sons.

"My kids get fired up when we watch football,' he said. "We're all wrestling in bed and during timeouts we'll be tackling each other.

"I think it's important to watch the games. To see what wins and loses playoff football. This is a quest for a Super Bowl championship and you need to see what's done right and what's done wrong. Whether you're a young player or an older player, you look at it and learn from it."

"I don't make any plans to watch the games," said Fauria. "I really don't want to watch it. I don't want to be motivated either way, until we know who we're playing. Sunday I'll be outside doing something with the kids. I haven't set up in front of the TV with the popcorn since I was in high school. If I tried to do that now, my kids would start throwing things at me."

Andruzzi added, "This is time with my family. If we're home, it will be on, but if we're not home, we're doing something else. I'm not planning my day around it. I'm a football fan and everything, but we haven't had time off for a while so I'll spend this time with the kids."

Then there's Adam Vinatieri, who plans to watch every down on his 90-inch home-theater TV screen.

"The more familiar we are to what they are doing, the more advantage it gives us," said the kicker. "I'll have a little bowl of popcorn or something like that and I'll be watching it pretty closely to see special team stuff, what I'm going to be facing. Obviously we get film that is a little more detailed, but I can still see things."

The wounded Richard Seymour will take time to watch between treatments.

"I'm a big fan of the National Football League," said the thoughtful lineman. "I enjoy watching football. Just to sit back and not being the one getting pounded on or trying to pound someone. I like to watch it on the high-def where you can see the sweat rolling off them.

"It's always good just to watch it from a fan's perspective. Last year when we had our bye, the Cowboys played the Panthers in Charlotte and that's only 50 miles away from my home so I went to the playoff game and got to see it from a different angle, a different perspective. I've never been in that type of environment. I've always been the one out there playing it."

Today Seymour and his teammates will be in the same environment as Patriot fans. They'll be with their families, eating food, camped in front of big screens, plasmas, and home theaters. They'll be watching Peyton Manning perform surgery on the Broncos. Just like you.

And just like you, they think they'll be playing the Colts next Sunday. They're just not alllowed to talk about it until after the Colts beat the Broncos.

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / While others kick off, Patriots will kick back

EX-WILDCATS IN NFL PLAYOFFS: For Bruschi, time off the field is painful

Patriots linebacker is not into resting, even though team has clinched first-round bye in playoffs.


The Associated Press


Ex-Wildcat Tedy Bruschi (54) is looking to win his third Super Bowl with the New England Patriots.

Days off for New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi are as bad as a missed tackle.

The former University of Arizona All-American did not even want to take a few snaps off, as the rest of his teammates did in the regular-season finale against San Francisco last week.

It's football season. Bruschi's stance has been that there is always time to relax later.

But the Patriots were given four days off this week after earning a first-round bye for the AFC playoffs, along with Pittsburgh.

Other ex-Wildcats in the NFL playoffs this weekend are Green Bay receiver Andrae Thurman and tackle Kevin Barry and Indianapolis Colts tackle Makoa Freitas.

Bruschi and former Wildcats All-American punter Josh Miller will sit out this weekend with the Patriots, awaiting the outcome of the game and their opponent in the AFC semifinals.

It is just another postseason for Bruschi, who has been part of two Super Bowls with the Patriots, including last year's victory over Carolina.

"We've got a lot of experience, and that helps," Bruschi told The Middletown Press. "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."

The time for celebrating will come later, but Bruschi has something to cherish with the AFC naming him the defensive player of the week after his play against San Francisco on Sunday. The game was meaningless in terms of the playoffs but important to the nine-year NFL linebacker.

Bruschi made 15 tackles, five within one yard of the line of scrimmage or for a loss.

"I told (New England coach Bill Belichick) that the only way I want to finish a football season is to play the whole game," Bruschi told the Concord Monitor.

Bruschi's been playing for the Patriots since leaving the Wildcats in 1995. He switched from defensive tackle to linebacker, and the move paid off for somebody who has played in 12 postseason games.

Joining Bruschi on the Patriots is Miller. If all goes as predicted, Miller may eventually face his old team, the Steelers, with a Super Bowl berth on the line.

Miller, who signed a five-year deal with New England in March, spent the first eight years of his NFL career in Pittsburgh before being cut after the 2003 season.

Miller is averaging 43 yards per punt this year, with 19 of his 56 attempts downed inside the 20. None of his 628 career punts has been blocked.

EX-WILDCATS IN NFL PLAYOFFS: For Bruschi, time off the field is painful

Megliola: Bruschi pumped up for Bowl run
By Lenny Megliola
Monday, January 10, 2005

 

FOXBORO -- Tedy Bruschi, standing in front of his locker, was smiling. The questions, some new, mostly old questions, were coming at him from the left, from the right and straight on. He smiled a lot through the familiar drill a famous football player learns to live with.
 

     But not many of them smile as often as Bruschi. There's a built-in mechanism that makes it appear Bruschi's always smiling, even on the football field, even in the mean-street trenches where the 31-year-old linebacker of the Patriots goes to work on Sundays. Maybe it's the corners of his mouth ever ready to curb upward. If he's not completely smiling on the field, clearly he's delighted to be there.
 

     On a day last week, as the questions are tossed Bruschi's way, his smile exists for a special reason and it has nothing to do with the team's bye week and upcoming playoff home game. Nope, Bruschi is still feeling the adrenaline rush of the birth two days earlier of a son. It's the third boy for Tedy and Heidi Bruschi. Tedy Jr. was followed by Rex. Now they have little Dante to add wonderment to their lives.
 

     So naturally Bruschi's in a good mood, smiling.
 

     He watched his former New England coach, Pete Carroll, smile the night away as his Southern California Trojans won the national championship in the Orange Bowl, squeezing the life out of Oklahoma. "I was in bed watching the game with T.J. and Rex," says Bruschi. "Out of the blue, (four-year-old) T.J. shouted 'Defense!' Looks like he's going to be tackling people when he grows up." The thought brings out Bruschi's best Pepsodent smile, wide as the end zone.
 

     But let's not get the wrong impression here. Bruschi has a game face. His line of work demands it, forces him to consider the scabbed forearms, banged-up knees and bloody noses as all in a day's work. Still, he plays with an animated zest, his eyes widening as he sizes up the opponent's offensive set. He's almost salivating, waiting to react to the play, run or pass. My way or the other way. Coverage or just go nail the guy with the ball.
 

     He likes a dirty game. No, not like that. "An ugly, muddy field," says Bruschi. "I want it ugly. You can look at the (Gillette) field right now and it's ugly. That's the only place I want to play. On a muddy, ugly field. That's football." That's the hard knocks game he grew up with in San Francisco. Sort of. "We used to play on the streets and run into cars in the parking lot." So running into an 320-pound offensive lineman or tackling a bearlike tight end is no big deal.
 

     The Patriots play at home Sunday. The weather might be nasty. Rain, snow, fog, sleet, bitter cold. Bruschi can only hope. At least they're not playing in a dome. Football indoors, or any place with fake laboratory grass, now that's something that'll wipe the smile off Bruschi's kisser. "I shouldn't come out of a game with turf burns on my elbows," he says. Grass stains, mud mixed with some blood. Now you're talking.
 

     There can't be many players who get pumped like Bruschi. His father, Anthony, was like that. "He always got fired-up. That's the Italian side of me. I'm half him."
 

     Bruschi has two Super Bowl rings but it's like he has none, such is the hunger to get to Jacksonville Feb. 6 in quest of another one. A third Super Bowl win. "I want it even more," he says. Two is not enough. "I'm confident," says Bruschi. "There's a lot of experience in this locker room, and that helps."
 

     The bye week gives Bruschi some days off, nicely timed given the arrival of Dante. Some of his teammates could use the break too. "A lot of the guys have bangs and bruises." Anyone who's still standing this late in the year has some body part not right. But at least they're still playing.
 

     Bruschi started all 16 regular-season games, even played on punt coverage. More chance for injury, you're thinking? Naa, Bruschi keeps playing even when you think he's down-and-out hurt, like the Buffalo game November 14 when he writhed in pain and limped off as the Gillette Stadium crowd went silent. His teammates call him Gumby and The Contortionist because he seems so flexible. Bruschi just shakes off something that might put another player out of commission.
 

     By the coaching staff calculations, Bruschi was in on 129 tackles, 85 solos. He had three picks, 3 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles. His teammates and talk radio callers backed him for Pro Bowl selection. Didn't happen. Bruschi took it well. He extolled the play of the Ravens' Ray Lewis, who was picked.
 

     When Bruschi mentioned he watched USC-Oklahoma, the questions turned to Pete Carroll. What happened when he coached here? Why did he fail? "I don't know. It was just a downward spiral. He just couldn't get it done. Then he was out the door. You've got to win." Carroll was 27-21 with the Pats, 1-2 in the playoffs. Awful weak compared to what's happened since. "I still think he can be a good NFL coach," says Bruschi.
 

     These days life's just grand at the Bruschi domicile. "My wife's good, my sons are healthy, let's go win some football games," says Tedy Bruschi. Lots to smile about.

 

This week's Notes and Quotes: 01/10/05

 

On Law & Poole:

"You wish they were there, but if they’re not you trust the next guy that’s coming in," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said before the Patriots’ four-day break began last Thursday.

 

A Team To Watch

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.
 

On the weather:

Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, a California native and a University of Arizona alum, says: "Snow, cold. That's perfect to me."Since 1993, it has been nearly perfect for the Patriots. Home or away, they are 20-2 in games in which the temperature at kickoff has been 35 degrees or colder. They are 10-0 in that stretch when it's been 30 and below.

 

 

Hoosier daddy? May be McGinest

By ERIC McHUGH
The Patriot Ledger

FOXBORO - Take it from an insider - literally. Tedy Bruschi, who plays inside linebacker for the New England Patriots, was raving yesterday about the play of the guys who ‘‘set the edge'' for his unit - outside 'backers Mike Vrabel and Willie McGinest.

‘‘They battle tight ends all game long,'' Bruschi said, ‘‘and they're athletic enough that when there's a (Brandon) Stokley in front of them or a (Marvin) Harrison in front of them, they can get their hands on them to sort of re-route them.''

Ah, but what if nobody is in front of them?

Absolutely nobody. Not a single Indianapolis Colt anywhere to be seen.

Well, then, McGinest for one can be downright disruptive. In a game-ending, victory-clinching sort of way.

The Patriot Ledger at SouthofBoston.com

On Vanderjagt's comments:

Perhaps the best comment about the so-called assault upon the Patriots' honor came from linebacker Tedy Bruschi on Monday, before the controversy had picked up much steam.

``You're asking me to comment on what a kicker said?'' he asked, a hint of an annoyed smirk on his face. ``It doesn't really concern me, OK?''

No doubt, the Patriots might have taken sharper notice of such commentary if someone with the stature of Manning had taken time out from his busy schedule of cheering on butchers and slapping high-fives with his favorite accountants to cast aspersions upon their honor.

More likely, Manning is probably chanting, ``Cut that crap! Cut that crap!'' to his loose-lipped kicker today.

The Sun Chronicle Newspaper

On the Colts:

Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi said the Colts won't change their game plan if the Gillette Stadium field is wet and muddy. "They are going to still try to do the same things," he said. "They had some success versus us outdoors in the first game." The Patriots edged the visiting Colts 27-24 in the season opener. "They will have confidence (from) that game because they were able to get some deep passes down the middle," Bruschi said. "They still are explosive, even outdoors."

 

On the injuries:

"What's different now than what we've dealt with the past 10 weeks?" asked inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "Guys go down. Guys step up. That's just the way football has to be because it is a physical, violent game.  "We have some guys who have played now for a while and they have some experience," said Bruschi. "This is a big game for a lot of guys who haven't played in a lot of big, playoff games, but we're confident they'll be ready."

 

 

Willie McGinest has a knack for thwarting Colts' star quarterback

By RUSS CHARPENTIER
STAFF WRITER
FOXBORO - Willie McGinest stands at his corner locker in the spacious Gillette Stadium locker room.

A mob of media spills over from his locker to Tedy Bruschi's not far away. A reporter could walk the short distance to catch both interviews, but he'd hear pretty much the same thing from both. This is the Patriots, after all, and the team's focus has become the thing of legend. No one strays from the party line.

It wasn't always that way with McGinest, in his 11th season in the NFL, all with the Patriots. After the 7-6 playoff loss at Pittsburgh in January 1998, he reportedly went off in the locker room, screaming and throwing things as his frustration overflowed.

By 2001, injuries and a hefty salary seemed to indicate his exit from New England would be sooner rather than later. But his health returned, he came on in the playoffs and Super Bowl that year, renegotiated his contract a couple of times, and it appears he'll be a lifetime Patriot.

That gets a big thumbs-up in the Patriots' locker room.

"People talk about our defense and they talk about it being physical," Bruschi said. "A couple of guys emphasize that fact - Willie and Rodney (Harrison). They lead the way in terms of being physical. They hit everything that moves.

"The last couple of years, Willie has played outstanding football. I think as you get older in this locker room (Bruschi's in his ninth season) and start to tail off a little, you see Willie and Rodney and Roman (Phifer, 14th season)."

If they're doing it, Bruschi says, then he and others had better keep doing it as well.

Read the rest of the article here: Willie McGinest has a knack for thwarting Colts' star quarterback (January 15, 2005)


 

One condition to playing at Foxboro: It should be cold

By Glen Farley, Enterprise staff writer

 

FOXBORO — Cold weather?

B-r-r-r-r-i-n-g it on, say the New England Patriots.

"It's our nature," Patriots inside linebacker Roman Phifer said Wednesday. "We live up here. We play in it. We practice in it. So obviously it's something that we're used to."

Snow isn't in the forecast for Sunday afternoon's AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium, but don't let today's balmy (by January's standards) conditions fool you: 20-degree temperatures are.

That could be a rather cold, hard slap in the face for an Indianapolis Colts team accustomed to playing in the 72-degree comforts of the RCA Dome.

"Being on that carpet in that dome is something special," Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, reflecting upon the Colts' 49-24 romp over the Denver Broncos in last Sunday's AFC wild-card game in Indy. "Those receivers were able to get off the defensive backs' jams and were running down the field. You get those guys flying down the field and Peyton's able to put a lot of yards and points on the board."

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is well aware of the storm he will be forced to weather this Sunday in Foxboro, where he is oh-for-forever (0-6 lifetime).

"One thing about New England and playing at their place, they always play well," Manning said during a conference call with the New England media yesterday. "They're extremely tough to beat and haven't lost there in a long time."

Now 23-3 all-time in regular-season and postseason games at Gillette, the Patriots haven't lost at home since the New York Jets dealt them a 30-17 setback on Dec. 22, 2002, ultimately crushing their playoff hopes that year. Since then, the Pats have won 19 straight regular-season and postseason games at home, a streak that includes a 17-14 win over the Tennessee Titans in an AFC divisional playoff matchup last January that was played with the temperature at kickoff all of four degrees.

"We like to think it does (help)," Phifer said of the cold, "but it's not something we're going to hang our hats on."

While the Patriots won't hang their hats on that, the grounds crew at Gillette hasn't covered the stadium's playing surface all week, exposing it to yesterday's snow and rain — a ploy, perhaps, to slow the field down with Indy's race-horse offense coming to town?

"You've got to ask the groundskeepers about that, man," Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi answered when asked why the field was left uncovered. "I wouldn't know."

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick pleaded ignorance as well.

"I don't pull weeds," was Belichick's answer to the same question. "I don't rake the grass."

Regardless of the elements Sunday, Patriots placekicker Adam Vinatieri said his pregame ritual will remain the same.

"Get out there early, figure out what the conditions are, and then make sure you've got the right shoes," said Vinatieri. "From there, you just rely on what you've done."

Neither Bruschi nor strong safety Rodney Harrison felt the cold would alter the game plan of a high-powered Colts offense that rode Manning's NFL-record 49 touchdown passes to 522 points during the regular season and another four TD throws by their two-time MVP to another 49 points against the Broncos last Sunday.

"It doesn't change," said Bruschi. "They're going to try to do the same things. They had some success versus us outdoors in the first game (446 yards in total offense in a 27-24 loss to the Patriots in the teams' Sept. 9 regular-season opener at Gillette). I think they'll have confidence looking back here because they were able to get some passes down the middle of the field against us. They're pretty much still an explosive Indianapolis offense."

"They've beaten teams in cold weather. They've beaten teams in warm (weather)," said Harrison. "Those guys are going to be ready. They're going to catch touchdowns. They're going to run the ball. It doesn't matter what surface they're playing on. They could be playing on hot coals. They're going to do what they do."

While the Patriots worked out at the indoor practice facility yesterday, they vow to be ready to play outdoors Sunday.

"We're not going to let the weather be an excuse or a factor for us," said Phifer. "We're not going to depend on the weather. We have to go out and execute, pretty much have a flawless game to have a chance to win."

The Enterprise at SouthofBoston.com

Bruschi has battled on, off field

LB tackled alcohol, QBs

NORTH ATTLEBORO -- He is two men. At game time, New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is the lunatic who prowls the football field and hunts down anyone who dares to advance the football. One hour later, he is the doting father who takes newborn son Dante in his arms and serenades him with gentle strokes and sweet whispers.

Bruschi's journey to separate one man from the other has been challenging, heart-wrenching, and immensely satisfying.

It has meant learning how to keep all of his football energy confined to the field.

It has also meant learning how to leave alcohol behind.

''All the wives say the same thing," Heidi Bruschi noted. ''They all say, 'Tedy is so shy. He is so soft-spoken. But he is so crazy on the field.' "

''I'm a Gemini," Tedy Bruschi said. ''I'm a split personality.

''I was crazy on the field, and I was crazy off it," he said. ''Everyone has their own speed. Mine was very high."

There was no one particular moment that led to one of the most significant decisions of his life. It was a gradual realization that he was losing control at all the wrong times.

"I got to a point where I realized whenever there was a problem in my life, whether I was getting into trouble or having trouble in my marriage, alcohol was involved," Bruschi said. "It was an accumulation of events. I was about 24 or 25 years old. Heidi and I were having one of our arguments, because I had taken it too far one more time. "I looked at it and I said, `I'm tired of this.' So I quit drinking."

At the time, Bruschi was married with a young son. Nearly six years later, he has three boys and two Super Bowl rings. His team continues its quest for a third championship today against the Indianapolis Colts with Bruschi as the undisputed leader of a shorthanded defense that will be facing its most significant challenge in three years.

The aggression has roiled inside him for as long as he can remember. Bruschi can't say for sure why. Maybe it's from growing up in a part of San Francisco where the tourists never go, a place where the streets, as Bruschi recalls, "were not so favorable." Maybe it's because his parents divorced when he was young. It certainly intensified when the family moved to Roseville, just outside of Sacramento, and began measuring themselves against nearby Oakmont. Nobody at Oakmont wore hand-me-down clothes. They drove new cars. They had more, but they were not content with that. The Oakmont kids liked to rub it in. They liked to remind the Roseville guys of what they didn't have -- of what they would never have. They liked to watch the Roseville kids burn. 

"I'll never forget one of our high school practices," said Bruschi's former teammate, John Drinkwater. "We had this kid that had transferred over from Oakmont named Eric Tennison. We're doing a walk-through on punt returns. Eric had the ball. Tedy absolutely drilled the kid, then stood over him shouting, `That's sticking it to you, Oakmont!' We had to pull him away and say, `Hey, Tedy, back off, man. It's just a walk- through.' "

No. There were no walk-throughs in Tedy Bruschi's life. It was full speed ahead, all the time, whether it was on the field, in class, at home, or in best friend Josh Tindall's 1979 Corolla. Bruschi couldn't turn off the intensity as if it were some kind of switch. It coursed through him. It defined him.

Bruschi is ready. He always has been. His drinking, he insists, never affected his play, only his off-field decision-making.

"I still go out with the guys from the team, but I haven't had a drink in a long, long time," Bruschi said. "The guys know. Sometimes when we're in the tent [for the postgame celebration] after the game, Jen Vrabel will bring me an O'Doul's."

Tindall, who grew up with Bruschi and played football at Roseville with him, said he would never characterize Bruschi's drinking as a problem, but added, "That's typical Tedy. If something is getting in the way of his life, he's going to trim the fat."

Yet Bruschi does not minimize what became a potentially explosive issue for him and his family.

"I think the reason anyone quits drinking is because they have a problem," Bruschi said. "You better man up to it. When I drank, I couldn't stop. It had to be all out, just like on the football field. One beer wasn't enough.

"I'm not ashamed of myself. I'm not afraid to stand here and say I made a mistake."

A leader emerges

On Larry Cunha's first day at Roseville High as a new football coach and a World Studies teacher, he took roll call.

"Tedy Brush-key?" he inquired.

"No, coach, that's Tedy Brew-ski," answered the young student. "As in, have another."

"He was only a sophomore at the time," Cunha said. "But he was already a leader."

Everyone in Roseville knew Tedy. He was bright, humble, and loyal. He was also a superb athlete who starred in football, track and field, and wrestling. When he and Tindall went to watch the Roseville-Oakmont basketball games, they'd hold up signs with disparaging remarks about the Oakmont football team. When the Oakmont cheerleaders took center court for their halftime routine, they would have to compete with Bruschi, who was under the basket leaping into the air and doing toe touches.  

Did you ever see the movie `The Outsiders'? " Bruschi asked. "Well, the Oakmont kids were the Socs. We were the greasers."

He rattled around town with Tindall in his beat-up Toyota, which they nicknamed the Batmobile, and confided in each other about their fears, their wishes. In Bruschi's case, he wished his brothers paid more attention to him. He wished his father wasn't so tough on him. He wished his mother's life wasn't so hard.

"He didn't exactly grow up in the Cosby family," Tindall said.

"I had a chip on my shoulder the size of a boulder," Bruschi said. "I suppose it comes from growing up hard. I can't fully explain it. All I know is it seemed like I was angry a lot when I played football."

Bruschi quickly developed a reputation as a hard-hitting two-way player who spared no one from his fury -- not even teammates.

"According to our punt coverage, Tedy would be responsible for the third guy over," said Tindall. "We'd start counting off in practice. We'd get to three, see our tight end Jeff Johnson, then say, `Aw, old Jeff is going to get it.' Then we'd sit back and watch Tedy loop around and just level the poor guy.

"It got so bad that midway through Tedy's junior season, the coach called it off. We couldn't practice it anymore. Too many of our own guys were taking a beating."

Roseville wrestling coach Casey Griffin drooled over Bruschi's aggression, athleticism, and instincts, and began badgering him to join the team. Bruschi finally agreed in his junior season. The biggest match, naturally, was against Oakmont. An anticipated close contest quickly became one-sided as Roseville enjoyed a couple of lucky breaks in the lower weight classes. By the time they got to the heavyweight class, the match had been decided. Even so, Oakmont's top wrestler, state qualifier Bodie Loutzenheiser, decided to forfeit his match in the 190-pound weight class and go up one class to face the novice Bruschi.

"They start the match, and Bodie takes Tedy down," Griffin said. "You should have seen Tedy's face. It was like someone had placed his hands on a hot iron. His eyes got to be the size of silver dollars. He jumped up off that mat, drove Bodie backward, and pinned him. The place just went crazy."

"The head of the Oakmont wrestling team was a football coach," Bruschi said. "Bodie was a football player. I think he moved the kid up so he could say he got Bruschi. Well, I wasn't going to allow that to happen."

Bruschi protected his friends with the same fervor with which he protected his reputation. He didn't walk away from much. One night he was home from college and out with the boys celebrating Drinkwater's 21st birthday at a local spot called Bobby McGee's, where another group of guys began harassing a waitress. Bruschi's friend told them to stop. The haranguing continued. Bruschi smoldered as he watched. The Oakmont kids -- "the fancies" as Cunha called them -- got under Bruschi's skin.

 "That was always a mistake with Tedy, to get on someone less fortunate than you," Tindall explained. "It's wrong to gloat. It's wrong to enjoy someone else's misfortune. He just hated that."

When Bruschi and his friends left the bar, the other group was waiting for them in the parking lot. One of them started trading insults with Bruschi's brother.

"They wanted to fight us," Tindall said. "Tedy told them to take off. He told them very calmly. He told them more times than I would have. Then he turned to me and said, `JT, open the door.'

"The other guys were driving a Mustang convertible," Drinkwater said. "Out of nowhere, here comes Tedy. He levels this guy, who is about 6-4, 240 pounds. He just flattens him right into the back of the convertible."

Lifestyle decision

There were more nights like Bobby McGee's. Too many of them. By then, Bruschi had met Heidi, who was a softball player at Arizona. He was taken with her. The only time they were at odds was when he went out with the boys and lost track of the time, the beers, and the promises to come home.

"There comes a time in every person's life when you have to take a good look at yourself," Bruschi said. "I wanted to be a good husband. I wanted to be a good father. I decided I couldn't act the same way that I acted on the football field anymore."

He did not make a grand pronouncement about his lifestyle change. He simply trusted his friends, teammates, and family to quietly note the difference.

"The last time I saw him take a drink was his second year in the league," Tindall said. "They played Green Bay on `Monday Night Football' and I went out to Foxborough for the game. Tedy had the next night off. We went out and got pretty liquored up. He was crying because I was leaving the next day. He kept saying, `JT, man, you gotta stay.' He was in one of his happy moods. Sometimes when we drank, we weren't always so happy."

There are no more nights like that. Bruschi has trimmed the fat. He has pared down his life to his family and his game.

"He's matured," offered Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "I think we have a lot of players who are very aggressive on the field, but have a very different personal life off the field. Maybe football is the way they release their aggression."

Funny how that aggression no longer roils inside of Bruschi. He is successful and well-respected. He was fourth in the All-Pro voting at inside linebacker. He is recognized as one of the more charitable athletes in New England. He is immensely popular with his coaches, his teammates, and the fans.

"As my career has gotten longer and longer, the chip on my shoulder has gotten smaller," Bruschi said. "My motivation has changed. I'm no longer motivated to prove something to somebody. My motivation now is to go out and make my family proud."

There are times when the intensity flares and his emotions overtake him, although those incidents have become rare. In fact, when it was first discovered that Bruschi had drawn an unsportsmanlike penalty in the Baltimore game in November, more than one observer in the press box wondered whether there had been a mistake.

"No, it was me," Bruschi said. "They got Matt Chatham for a facemask penalty and I got so mad I kicked the flag. They got 30 yards and 3 points on that. The only points of the game. That's on me."

On the day of New England's victory over the Ravens, both Tindall and Drinkwater watched their friend, as they do each Sunday, from their Roseville homes. JT is a police officer now. Drinkwater is a businessman and a part-time coach for their old high school team. They live vicariously through their friend, through the lunatic on their television screen who is still leveling everyone in his path.

"You've got to channel intensity like that," Tindall said. "You've got to surgically pinpoint when to use it. If you don't apply it the right way, it's wasted."

The two men who make up Tedy Bruschi understand that. The linebacker and the father approach their jobs with a clear-headed resolve. There is room in Bruschi's life for both of them. His journey has led each of them to their own separate peace.

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Bruschi has battled on, off field

Bruschi rips Colts: Fires parting shots in war of words
By Dan Ventura
Monday, January 17, 2005

FOXBORO - Tedy Bruschi [news] heard the whining of Bill Polian, the crying of Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning, as well as the boasting of Mike Vanderjagt.
 

     Shortly after the Patriots [stats, news] advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the third time in four years with a 20-3 dismantling of the Colts yesterday at Gillette Stadium, the linebacker had a few choice words of his own for the visitors.
 

     ``I'm just trying to think of what excuses they'll be saying in the locker room right now,'' said Bruschi, who was superb with eight tackles and two fumble recoveries. ``I wonder what rules they want to change now. Maybe it will be we can't play a game in the snow. I don't know, but they will think of something.
 

     ``I was just tired of it. I was tired of hearing this and that, them talking about the last game (a 27-24 Patriots victory in the season-opener) and how we didn't win the game, that they lost the game by giving the ball away.
 

     ``(Yesterday), we just took it away from them.''
 

     The veteran linebacker made his presence felt in the second quarter. After being held in check, the Colts put together their most sustained drive, moving the ball inside the Patriots' 40-yard line. On a second-and-17 from the Pats' 39, running back Dominic Rhodes caught a screen pass from Manning.
 

     Rhodes was immediately met by Bruschi, who attacked the ball and successfully stripped it away to end the scoring threat. The way Bruschi described the play, it was a classic mano-a-mano battle, one he had no intention of losing.
 

     ``What that is is somebody wanting it more than the other guy,'' Bruschi said. ``It was me and him, and the ball was right there. That was a take-away. Hopefully, (the Colts) won't be calling that a giveaway because that was a takeaway.''
 

     Bruschi was the happy recipient of a second fumble recovery midway through the fourth quarter. Harrison was stripped of the ball by the combination of Roman Phifer and Rodney Harrison [news], and Bruschi was there to pounce.
 

     ``That was (Phifer) and Rodney,'' Bruschi said. ``Phifer caught him from one side, ripped his right arm out. Rodney came and took his left arm out. And once again, we took the ball away.''
 

     The win gives the Pats a chance at redeeming one of their two losses of the season when they travel to Pittsburgh for Sunday's AFC Championship Game. Bruschi wasn't about to pull a Vanderjagt and claim the Steelers are ripe for the taking.
 

     ``They proved they were the best team in the league at 15-1,'' Bruschi said. ``I'm sure they weren't satisfied with their performance against the Jets (a 20-17 overtime victory Saturday), but they find a way to win.''

BLAST FROM PATS


New England advances by keeping ball from Indy


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi drank so much Gatorade on the sidelines, his stomach was aching.

But what else did Bruschi have to do during most of the Patriots' 20-3 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in a much-anticipated AFC second-round playoff game Sunday at snowy Gillette Stadium?

“I drank too much,” Bruschi moaned. “Watching our offense taking all that time off the clock…”

While the Colts featured the NFL's highest-scoring offense, led by two-time MVP Peyton Manning, it was New England's offense that dominated the game and propelled the defending Super Bowl champions into next Sunday's AFC championship game at Pittsburgh.

The AFC championship game will be a rematch of a game last Halloween, when the Steelers snapped the Patriots' 21-game winning streak with a 34-20 victory in Pittsburgh.

But running back Corey Dillon, who rushed for 144 yards Sunday, missed that game because of a thigh injury and gives the Patriots a running game they lacked even while winning two of the last three Super Bowls.

With Dillon and fellow running back Kevin Faulk (56 yards) piercing the Colts' defense, and quarterback Tom Brady completing passes to 10 different receivers on Sunday, New England tortured the Colts with excruciating, time-consuming drives.

And that might have been the best defense of all against Manning as the Patriots held the Colts, 13-5, to their lowest point total since losing 41-0 to the New York Jets in a first-round playoff game on Jan. 4, 2003.

The Patriots, 15-2, scored on one drive of 16 plays and 78 yards. They scored on another drive of 15 plays and 87 yards. And on another still of 14 plays and 94 yards.

All told, the three drives, in which New England converted seven of eight third downs, covered 259 yards and knocked 24 minutes, 47 seconds off the clock.

“We wanted to control the clock,” said Dillon, who was appearing in his first playoff game after spending seven years in Cincinnati. “We didn't want to put the ball in their hands too many times. That's a hot offense. They could put up points in a second if you give them the ball.”

Instead, the Patriots hogged the ball for 37 minutes, 43 seconds to the Colts' 22:17 and won their 20th straight game at Gillette Stadium, the NFL's longest home winning streak.

“We played our best 30 minutes of football in the second half,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose team has won seven straight playoff games, 30 of the last 32 games overall, and is 6-1 in games against Manning.

New England even took a page from Indianapolis' playbook on its first scoring drive when the Patriots went with a no-huddle offense for several snaps before kicker Adam Vinatieri made the first of two field goals for a 6-0 lead.

The Colts threatened to take the lead when they reached the New England 29 with 3:42 left in the half. Bruschi then read a screen pass to Dominic Rhodes and not only slammed into him as Rhodes caught the ball, but Bruschi wrestled the ball from Rhodes' grasp and took possession on a play ruled a fumble.

“I stunned him with the hit, the ball was juggled, and I put my hands in there and wrestled it away from him,” Bruschi said.

“You talk about takeaways … that's a takeaway when the ball is right there, and it's either the offensive player or the defensive player … who's going to get it? And I got it that time.”

Still, the Patriots led only 6-3 at halftime when Dillon, Faulk and Brady went to work on the 87-yard drive, capped by Brady's 5-yard touchdown toss to David Givens on a third-and-goal play late in the third quarter.

Then, after forcing a three-and-out, the Patriots put the game away in the fourth quarter on another excruciatingly long drive highlighted by Dillon's 27-yard run to the 1 and Brady's quarterback sneak, his second career playoff touchdown.

“Our biggest defense was our offense, keeping us off the field,” Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest said. “We were scoring points, running the ball well, converting on third down, and we had some takeaways to keep them out of the end zone.”

The Colts led the league by averaging 32.7 points a game, but they became the 10th team to come into Gillette Stadium this season and score one or no touchdowns.

And it was Indianapolis' fourth loss in 14 months to the Patriots, including 24-14 in the AFC championship game and 27-24 in the 2004 season opener, both at Gillette Stadium.

“They outplayed us, and they have beaten us four times in a row now, all kind of different games,” said Colts coach Tony Dungy. “But it is one thing about them, they find a way to win.”

Kansas City Star | 01/17/2005 | BLAST FROM PATS

Bruschi's timing perfect for Patriots

By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
Published January 17, 2005

FOXBORO, Mass. - New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi recovered two fumbles in Sunday's victory against the Colts. One was a spectacular play, the other a gift.

With 3:18 left in the first half, Bruschi stripped running back Dominic Rhodes after a completion, wrestling the ball out of Rhodes' hands as the two fell to the ground. The play halted a Colts drive at the Patriots 29-yard line.

"Talk about takeaways? That was a takeaway, right there," Bruschi said.

In the second half, Bruschi was in the right place at the right time after safety Rodney Harrison knocked the ball out of receiver Reggie Wayne 's hands at the Indy 35 with just under seven minutes left in the game.

"That was a present gift-wrapped for me," Bruschi said.

The Patriots, leading by 17, ran four minutes off the clock before being forced to punt.

HOME, COLD HOME: The wintry conditions played right into the hands of the Patriots, who are hot when it's cold. New England is 8-0 in snow games in Foxboro and 21-2 since 1993 when the kickoff temperature is 35 degrees or colder.

It was 25 at kickoff Sunday.

Sports: Bruschi's timing perfect for Patriots

BRUSCHI BRUISES INDY
By DAVE CURTIS

January 17, 2005 -- FOXBORO — The play looked rather routine. Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi tackled running back Dominic Rhodes, who had just caught a second-quarter Peyton Manning screen pass.

 

But when Bruschi popped up, he turned toward the Indianapolis bench and presented it with another surprise on a stunning day. He showed it the football.

 

"I hit him and put my hands in there and wrestled it away from him," Bruschi said after the game. "Talk about takeaways. That is a takeaway right there. Who is going to get it? I got it that time."

 

Save a two-minute drill at the end of the half, Bruschi and the Patriots defense got the Colts every time. New England held its visitors to its lowest point total since Manning arrived seven years ago and rolled Indianapolis 20-3 in yesterday's AFC playoff game at Gillette Stadium.

 

 

As usual, Bruschi led the defense, forcing a fumble and recovering two. He also hopped and yapped after every big play, taunting some Colts he felt disrespected the Pats with well-publicized comments leading up to the game.

 

"That's how he is, Johnny on the spot," Pats linebacker Ted Johnson said. "When we're all done playing, that's how I'll remember Tedy — a guy who made a lot of big plays and played with great energy."

 

Yesterday's set of big plays started when he wrestled with Rhodes. Reading the screen, Bruschi shed Colts center Jeff Saturday and hit Rhodes for what appeared to be a two-yard loss. But Bruschi wagged the ball toward the Colts sideline, and officials signaled Patriots possession, ending Indy's best drive to that point.

 

In the fourth quarter, he helped seal the game in the secondary. Reggie Wayne caught a Manning pass over the middle and ran into Pats safety Rodney Harrison, whose hit jarred the ball loose. It had barely bounced before Bruschi fell on it.

 

Bruschi said he takes most pride in his consistency. A defensive captain, he twice won conference defensive player of the week honors and makes the calls up front in the Pats' vaunted defense.

 

Still, he always seems to end up with the ball in big spots. A stadium poster shows an outline of Bruschi, ball in his right hand, sliding into the end zone with the lone touchdown in last year's 12-0 home shutout of the Dolphins.

 

That knack for the big play returned yesterday and helped the Pats reach another AFC title game.

 

"It's part of his personality," Johnson said. "To do that, you need to be willing to take risks and not do everything by the book."

 New York Post Online Edition: sports

NFL: Trying to define Manning's year

Monday, January 17, 2005

BY TOM LUICCI

Star-Ledger Staff

Patriots linebacker

Tedy Bruschi added to his reputation for big plays and being around the ball -- especially against the Colts -- when he wrestled the ball away from Dominic Rhodes during a second-quarter reception by the Indianapolis running back.

Bruschi shed a block by Colts center Jeff Saturday and met Rhodes just as he caught the short Manning pass. Bruschi ripped the ball away from Rhodes as he tackled him, getting credit for a fumble caused and fumble recovered. The strip stopped a promising Colts drive at the Patriots' 41-yard line.

"What that is ... is simply wanting the ball more than the other guy," Bruschi said. "We were both there battling for it. That's what you call the definition of a takeaway."

Bruschi had a second fumble recovery in the fourth quarter as well, falling on the ball after Wayne lost it following a 12-yard reception with 6:58 to play.

NFL: Trying to define Manning's year

WEATHER REPORT: The snow started falling at about 3:45 p.m., bringing a smile to the face of Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "January, December, football in Foxboro. When that snow comes down, I don't think we can lose."

The Patriots haven't. They are now 8-0 in home games played in the snow, the last one being the AFC championship game between these teams last Jan. 18.

Not only that, but the temperature at the start of the game was 25 degrees with a wind chill factor of 16.

The Patriots are 21-2 since 1993 in games that began with a temperature of 35 or less.

Big-play 'backer: Ball-hawking Bruschi comes up large
By Mike Reiss / News Sports Writer
Monday, January 17, 2005

 

FOXBORO -- The Colts had three turnovers and Tedy Bruschi was involved in two of them. No surprise there.
 

     The Patriots' sparkplug inside linebacker turned in yet another solid game, finishing with eight tackles, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. It's the type of performance that has become commonplace for the nine-year veteran. He's always around the ball.
 

     That was especially the case in the second quarter, with the Colts trailing 6-0 but moving the ball to the New England 39. On second-and-17, Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning dumped the ball off to Dominic Rhodes, and we'll let Bruschi take over from there

"Just a screen pass I read and beat the offensive lineman over to the defensive left," explained the 6-foot-1, 247-pound Bruschi, whose full-tilt, full-time approach has made him a fan favorite. "I put a hit on Rhodes, stunned him a bit to where he bobbled the ball, and reached in and took it from him."
 

     Then there was the final dagger in the fourth quarter. The Patriots were up 20-3 and 7:10 remained, so if the Colts hoped for a big comeback this was their chance.
 

     On the second play from the Indianapolis 20, Manning hit receiver Reggie Wayne across the middle. When Wayne was hit by safety Rodney Harrison, the ball came loose and the alert Bruschi pounced.
 

     "That's Rodney and Phife (Roman Phifer) -- Rodney had the left, Phife had the right, and all of a sudden there it was for me," Bruschi said.
 

     After the victory, Bruschi said these are the type of days that make it all worth it.
 

     "You realize you play the regular season for the playoffs. It's long, it's hard, and you're tired. But still, it's the second season, the chance to be a champion. You have to win three games to be a champion, no one is going to give it to you."
 

     Although a little respect would be nice. Bruschi acknowledged he a bit irked by some of the pre-game buildup against the Colts.
 

     "That was one thing I found strange this week, how our offense was sort of neglected," he said. "Our offense has its own superstars and they showed it."
 

     Bruschi himself is closing on star status in the NFL's inside linebacker community. While Baltimore's Ray Lewis and Miami's Zach Thomas are generally considered the top players at the position -- with Pittsburgh's James Farrior earning recognition in 2004 for his superb season -- it might be time to include Bruschi in this elite class.
 

     He finished the 2004 season with 128 tackles (84 solo) -- second behind safety Rodney Harrison's 138 -- while adding 3 1/2 sacks, three interceptions, six passes defended and three forced fumbles. He also made four tackles on the punt coverage team, an unsung role he fills with zest.
 

     Add it up and he's one of the Patriots' most valuable players. A happy one at that.
 

     "Holding them to three points, that's sort of unexpected," he said.


MetroWest Daily News - Sports Coverage

New England welcomes motivation

 

By Adrian Dater
Denver Post Staff Writer

Foxboro, Mass. - After New England beat Indianapolis last season for the AFC championship, lots of grumbling ensued from the Colts about holding by the Patriots' defense. "I'm trying to think of what excuse they're going to use this time," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said after Sunday's 20-3 victory over the Colts in an AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium.

Bruschi and the Patriots clearly were motivated by last year's criticism, along with much of last week's national punditry that said the Colts would take away the Patriots' Vince Lombardi Trophy.

"We just gritted our teeth and said, 'You're not going to do that to us in here,"' Bruschi said. "I can't control who you guys pick, and I respect that if you pick (the Colts). I mean, look at the kind of numbers they rolled up in the regular season and last week (against the Broncos).

"But the only thing that bothered me a little bit was that it was all about the Colts against our defense, and nobody said anything about our offense. I mean, look at the two long scoring drives they had in the second half. I drank too much Gatorade on the sidelines waiting to go back on the field."

There were no grumbling excuses from the Colts this time.

"We tried to go after them, but they did a good job and just outplayed us," Colts coach Tony Dungy said

DenverPost.com - BRONCOS / NFL

 

Raise a Bruschi to Dillon
Bob Longly

While enjoying his rest time on the Patriots sideline, linebacker Tedy Bruschi came up with a nifty nickname for his running back.

"We called him 'Clock-killin' Corey Dillon,' " Bruschi said after New England's dominant 20-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts in their AFC divisional playoff game. "He just ate up that clock for us."

Finally sprung from the gloom of life as a Cincinnati Bengal, Dillon rushed for 144 yards on 23 attempts for a back-breaking average of 6.3 yards per carry.

Even better, on scoring drives of 78, 87 and 94 yards the Patriots held the ball for 9:07, 8:16 and 7:24 respectively.

"For them to sit on the sideline and watch our offence control the clock and really dictate the game, it's very frustrating," Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said.

Frustrating used to be Dillon's life until he was signed by the Patriots in the off-season. He has given the Super Bowl champs an added dimension that may make them even more formidable on their latest run at a championship.

"I looked at it as an opportunity," Dillon said of his fallout in Cinci and landing with the most efficient team in the league. "They expected me to contribute and I've attempted to do that."

With the run game wearing down the Colts defence, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady could have some fun. He completed passes to 10 different players, including five to Dillon, as he toyed with the lightweight Indy defenders.

NOT SO RIPE, AFTER ALL

So much for the Patriots being ripe for the picking.

Brady, like many of the Patriots players, seems to have taken the comments made by Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt somewhat personally. Vanderjagt caused a manufactured, overblown controversy when he told an Indy TV station that the Patriots could be had this time around.

The fans at Gillette Stadium certainly lapped it up, booing lustily when the former Argo came on to attempt a first-half field goal, which turned out to be the only points of the game for the Colts.

"Around here, we respect our opponents," Brady said. "We can come out and talk all we want, but it looks so bad. It's not classy."

CANOE -- SLAM! Sports - NFL: Raise a Bruschi to Dillon

Bruschi all over the Colts

BY MARK FARINELLA / SUN CHRONICLE STAFF

FOXBORO -- Where there are turnovers to be forced, you can bet that Tedy Bruschi will at the root of them.

The Patriots' fiery inside linebacker set the tone for a dominating performance Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts with big hits and big fumble recoveries. And while not everything Bruschi did automatically turned to points, the intimidation factor was not lost upon the AFC's most productive offense.
But, given the Patriots' history of success against the Colts, Bruschi raised a few eyebrows in the post-game interviews when he said that the horseshoe on the helmet doesn't evoke any special emotions in the fellows who wear the Flying Elvis on their hats.

``We get up for every game,'' he said. ``Whether it's the Colts or the Broncos or whoever it's going to be, we don't raise our intensity just because it's them. We're just going to play football the way we play it.

``The chip's always there on our shoulders,'' he added. ``We just can't take it off. When I put the helmet on, I expose it.''

Bruschi contributed his first big play of the game when, with 3:18 left in the second quarter, he converged upon Colts' running back Dominic Rhodes as Peyton Manning threw a short swing pass to him. Bruschi and the ball arrived at Rhodes at the same time, and Rhodes had just long enough to hold possession before Bruschi ripped the ball out of his hands to stop a potential scoring drive at the Patriots' 41.
 

In the fourth quarter, Bruschi continued his demoralizing ways when he pounced upon a fumble by Reggie Wayne at the Colts' 35. Wayne had just picked up 15 yards on a pass from Manning when Rodney Harrison separated him from the ball, and Bruschi's recovery further challenged the efforts of the Colts to build momentum and get back into the game.

The Sun Chronicle Newspaper

No-frills Pats whip Manning, Colts
By Steve Krause
Monday, January 17, 2005

FOXBOROUGH - With all that the New England Patriots had to overcome Sunday, the one thing they had going for them was themselves.
 

     There was no all-pro cornerback Ty Law. There was no all-pro defensive lineman Richard Seymour. Even Earthwind Moreland couldn't suit up.
 

     No all-pros? No problem. The Patriots never doubted that what they had left to face Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts was more than enough.
 

     "We're a team," said linebacker Willie McGinest. "Nobody around here talks of 'I' or 'me.' Not even the young guys who come in here. And if they do, they get straightened out pretty fast."
 

     Nobody takes any undue credit, and they all accept blame. So when talk this week focused on Manning and his 49 touchdown passes, and his three 1,000-yard receivers, the Patriots just shrugged their shoulders and did what they always do. They responded as a team.
 

     The result was a 20-3 domination of the Colts that doesn't even look, on paper, half as complete as it really was.
 

     Not that they'll ever acknowledge that they undressed the most explosive offense in NFL history on national television.
 

     "We're not going to trash them," McGinest said. "They're a good team. They've had a great year, and no one around here wants to do that."
 

     However, the Patriots did want to talk about themselves.., but in an odd sort of way. If you asked a defensive player who stood out, he said it was the offense. If you asked an offensive player to define the key to the game, he said it was the defense.
 

     Linebacker Tedy Bruschi made seven tackles and recovered two fumbles - and on one of them he literally ripped the ball out of receiver Dominic Rhodes' hands after a screen pass completion that actually lost two yards.
 

     Yet rather than talk about himself, Bruschi preferred to give the offense all the credit for engineering three time-consuming drives - the last one going 94 yards in just over seven minutes, resulting in the touchdown that put the game away.
 

     "The highlight of the game was that 94-yard drive," Bruschi said. "As a defensive guy, you want to watch. But you also want to get your rest too. So you sit on the bench and watch the jumbotron, and watch Corey Dillon."
 

     And there was a lot of Dillon to watch. The rugged running back, acquired during the off-season from the Cincinnati Bengals, rushed for 144 yards on 23 carries and was definitely the biggest factor in a ball-control offense that gave the Pats a possession advantage of 37:43 to 22:17.
 

     Yet Dillon chose to talk about the defense.
 

     "Man," he said, "the defense had a great game. They came up big time after time. Incredible."
 

     Quarterback Tom Brady, who engineered those three drives, also credited the defense.
 

     "Talk about the tackling," he said. "Last week (against the Denver Broncos), Reggie Wayne catches a little flat pass and runs 60 yards for a touchdown. We just tried to make sure that if they caught a five-yard pass, it was a five-yard gain, and the defense never let them get away for those long gains. I thought that was key."
 

     But most of all, the Patriots won because they did what their coach told them to.
 

     "At halftime (after taking a 6-3 lead by frittering away two golden opportunities to score thanks to penalties), coach (Bill Belichick) kind of ripped us," said McGinest. "He told us we hadn't played that well in the first half, and that if we were going to win this game, we'd have to give him our best 30 minutes of football in the second half. Sonofagun if we didn't do it."
 

     Belichick thought so.
 

     "Oh, it was definitely the best 30 minutes of football we've played all year," he said.
 

     But was it a perfect game?
 

     "No," said McGinest. "We let (Mike) Vanderjagt kick a field goal."
 

     Vanderjagt said earlier this week that the Patriots weren't as good as they were last year, or even earlier this year, and that they were ripe for the picking.
 

     "We let Mr. Know-It-All kick a field goal," McGinest said. "Well, I guess he did his job."
 

     So now, the Patriots go to Pittsburgh Sunday for a chance to make their third Super Bowl in four seasons. And they're saying all the right things.
 

     "They're the best team in the league," Bruschi said. "They proved it during the regular season by winning 15 games, and that's why we're going down there to play the game."
 

The Daily Item of Lynn: More Coverage > No-frills Pats whip Manning, Colts

 

Guregian: Bruschi -- So instinctive
By Karen Guregian
Tuesday, January 18, 2005

 

FOXBORO -- There are times, like yesterday, when Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will let loose and surrender a true gem during his daily press briefing. He'll deliver some special insight about the game of football, or one of his players.
 

     Belichick yesterday chose to wax poetic on Tedy Bruschi, or rather, the beauty of Bruschi as a football player.
 

     The veteran linebacker was spectacular in Sunday's 20-3 playoff win against the Indianapolis Colts, recording eight tackles and two fumble recoveries. Bruschi might not get invitations to Pro Bowls, but in Belichick's mind, there's no player he'd rather have out on the field in any situation.

 

 "Tedy is a very, very instinctive player," Belichick said. "He has a great knack for the ball. He has a great feel for just playing football, whether it is kickoff returns, punt team, the running game, pass coverage or blitzing. He has to make a decision sometimes in a tight situation, and it seems like he almost always does the right thing.
 

     "A couple of plays he made (Sunday) were plays a lot of guys wouldn't make, a lot of guys wouldn't even think about making. He saw something, and he did it. We could play another 10 games and he might never do it again because that situation might not present itself for him again."

 One of those situations came at the start of the second half when Bruschi fielded Mike Vanderjagt's short kickoff at his own 29. Instead of handing the ball off to a more capable returner or just falling on it, Bruschi saw an avenue and ran, gaining 15 yards to give his team good field position at the 44.
 

     "It's not something you really can coach," Belichick said. "That's why you want him on the field. No matter what the situation is, he is the kind of guy you want on the field because if something unexpected happens like that, he almost always does the right thing. Troy Brown is like that, too. You have situations come up in games that you maybe never practiced. ... They just do the right thing."

 

There also was Bruschi's steal from Colts running back Dominic Rhodes, who caught a pass just out of the backfield. Bruschi was waiting on the same side, timed his move and hit perfectly, wrestling the ball away in one motion.
 

     Later, he was in the perfect place to pounce on another ball after watching Roman Phifer and Rodney Harrison deliver a 1-2 punch to Marvin Harrison. Bruschi also set Rodney Harrison up for another hit on Edgerrin James.
 

Belichick said former Giants linebacker Harry Carson and former Lions and Broncos standout Charlie West were other players he coached with that sixth sense on the field.
 

     "It is confidence, and (Bruschi) has a high level of confidence, don't get me wrong," Belichick said. "But his instinctive ability, like on that play (on Rhodes) ... he just sees things.
 

     "He just instinctively knows where he needs to fit on that play. That is what good football players do."

MetroWest Daily News - Sports Columnists

Bruschi favorite Pats refreshment

By Adrian Dater
Denver Post Staff Writer

 

Foxboro, Mass. - The only people who used to stir to the word New Englanders yelled Sunday night were bartenders or other wait staff.

 

Brewww-skiiii

.

For New Englanders, it's not just a call for a cold, frosty one. It's a loving homage to one of their favorite football players, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

While linebackers such as Ray Lewis and Zach Thomas keep going to Pro Bowls, Bruschi keeps going to Super Bowls. Lewis and Thomas get more coverage, but nobody provides better coverage than the Patriots' middle linebacker.

 

Just ask Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts after Sunday's 20-3 Patriots victory in an AFC divisional playoff game, in which Bruschi might have turned in the best performance of his career.

 

Bruschi, 31, recovered two fumbles, including one on which he simply wrestled the ball from the arms of the Colts' Dominic Rhodes.

 

Bruschi might be overlooked when it comes to awards or attention by the national media, but not in the eyes of coach Bill Belichick.

"He is such an instinctive

 

player," Belichick said Monday. "No matter what the situation, you can almost always depend on him making the right decision."

High praise from a coach not known for lavishing it on players.

 

Belichick's faith in Bruschi is exhibited by having him on the field for every down defensively and including him on special-teams coverage. In the second half of the victory over the Colts, Bruschi recovered a squib kick.

 

"I thought that was one of the bigger plays of the game, one that wasn't talked about much," Belichick said. "If he doesn't recover that kick like he did, we probably lose 20 or 30 yards of field position."

 

That Bruschi never has been selected to the Pro Bowl, despite being a defensive stalwart on a team that has won 28 of its past 30 games and two of the past three Super Bowls, is mind-boggling to teammates.

 

"Let me tell you something," kicker Adam Vinatieri said, "there is no better teammate in the world than Tedy Bruschi - none. That guy is the ultimate warrior and competitor. All he does is make big play after big play, win after win after win. And he hardly gets any recognition for it. It's unbelievable, but we know how much he means in this locker room."

 

Said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady: "Tedy, I mean, what a player he is. I don't know if I've ever seen a better performance by a defensive player than what he showed in the second half. But he does that stuff all the time for us. He always makes the big play when we need it."

 

Bruschi, who played college football at Arizona and has been with the Patriots since 1996, doesn't seem bothered by the Pro Bowl snubs. Bruschi points to pictures of his two young boys - and of his two Super Bowl rings - and a grin creases his face.

 

"On this team, it's all about winning," he said. "A lot of teams and players like to talk. We play. We just want to step on the field and win the game, and leave all the other stuff to you guys in the press.

 

"I'll take winning a Super Bowl any day over anything that could possibly happen to me or be given to me as a football player."

 

Bruschi and the Patriots get a chance Sunday in Pittsburgh to avenge one of their only two losses in the past 30 games. The Patriots' NFL-record 21-game winning streak was snapped on Halloween by the Steelers 34-20 in a game New England played without running back Corey Dillon.

 

"It's going to be a physical football game, and it's going to be a tough game," Bruschi said. "We're not going to look at it as anything other than another game that we have to win, and we'll prepare like we always do. We definitely won't be looking ahead or anything, thinking about the Super Bowl.

 

"We prepare the same way each time, knowing we have to step out on the field and get ready to work."

 

DenverPost.com - BRONCOS / NFL

 

BELICHICK TAKES TIME TO ENJOY THIS BRUSCHI

By JAY GREENBERG

 

January 18, 2005 -- FOXBORO — The Pats were without their starting corners and the record-setting quarterback proved to be the one really cornered, having no choice but to throw more screens into the dead end of New England linebackers' arms.

 

On their fifth possession, the Colts finally had moved for three first downs until Jake Scott got caught holding and Peyton Manning tried a second-and-17 toss to Dominic Rhodes, who had the ball and another piece of his team's heart ripped out by Tedy Bruschi.

 

Bruschi would recover another fumble, make eight tackles, be everywhere Sunday that Indianapolis went without resistance for 17 games. It didn't matter that Pro-Bowl defensive end Richard Seymour also wasn't dressed either, because the real strengths of the Patriot defense — linebackers Mike Vrabel, Ted Johnson, Willie McGinest, Bruschi — were all on the field and in fact, all over it.

 

Corey Dillon was running for 144 yards while Edgerrin James was struggling to get 39. That allowed the Pats to drop so many guys into coverage, Manning never once threw downfield.

 

"I'm trying to think what excuses they'll be saying in their locker room," Bruschi sneered afterwards. "I wonder what rules they want to change now. Maybe it will be they can't play in the snow. They'll think of something.

 

"I was just tired of it, them talking about the last game (27-24 Patriot win in Week 1) and how we didn't win it, they gave the game away. That (steal from Rhodes) was somebody wanting it more than the other guy. Hopefully, they won't be calling that a giveaway. That was a takeaway."

 

The Patriots took everything away from the Colts, including seemingly Manning's birthright to a championship. Now they go to Pittsburgh to face a different animal, truly more animal, a classic kielbasa-breath, smokestack-snorting Steeler crew that the Pats, their 'backers and the proud backers of those 'backers, must respect.

 

"The Steelers have an offensive line good as any, physical linebackers, receivers to deal with after the catch, two outstanding physical running backs," said Bill Belichick yesterday. "It's just a totally different style of play (from Indianapolis)."

 

In Pittsburgh, they drink their brewskis begrudgingly toasting a Bruschi, who makes a Jack Lambert proud and a Belichick look even smarter than he is, which already is as smart as it gets.

 

"When Tedy makes a decision in a tight situation, he almost always does the right thing," said the coach. "He knows when he can get there, when he can't, when he has to play for time, when he can beat the blocker and knife through.

 

"A couple plays he made yesterday, guys wouldn't even think about making. That's why you want him on the field, no matter the situation, in case something unexpected happens.

 

"Troy Brown is like that, too. It's not just confidence. Some players have confidence, think they can be Superman and make a play when they can't. They'd be better off cutting their losses and lining up again.

 

"Tedy sees things I'm not sure he can tell you what he saw. Harry Carson was like that. I would ask him 'how did you know it was the trap and not the trap pass?' They look exactly alike. He couldn't explain it, just knew from the action of seven or eight guys where the play was going. Next time, it would be a trap and he would be 25 yards downfield. That's what good football players do."

 

The Patriots, missing three, didn't miss them at all, Bruschi exemplifying the defending champs always having more.

 

New York Post Online Edition: sports

 

DEFENSE: LB TEDY BRUSCHI, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

New England's Bruschi played a key role in helping the Patriots win their seventh-consecutive playoff game as the club stymied the Colts, 20-3, in Gillette Stadium. Bruschi made eight tackles, forced a fumble and recovered two more as the Patriots limited the NFL's top-scoring offense to three points to advance to their third AFC Championship Game in the past four years. Four of Bruschi's eight tackles were within three yards of the line of scrimmage. Perhaps Bruschi's biggest play came with 3:19 remaining in the first half while the Patriots nursed a 6-0 lead. On the eighth play of an Indianapolis drive, the Colts faced 2nd down and 17 from New England's 39-yard line and closing in on field goal range. Bruschi closed in on Colts' running back Dominic Rhodes, who had just hauled in a screen pass, and stripped the ball away to thwart a scoring threat on Indianapolis' longest drive of the first half. Bruschi and the New England defense allowed the Colts 22:17 of ball possession and limited NFL MVP Peyton Manning to a 69.3 passer rating -- his lowest since last season's AFC Championship Game when the Patriots limited him to a 35.5 mark

This is the fifth-career Player of the Week Award for Bruschi, his third this season (Weeks 4 and 17).

NFL.com

 

This week's Notes and Quotes: 01/17/05

 

Peter King's MMQB

4) The Patriots are the premier team in football. Again. With three minutes left in the game, the Colts had 206 yards. The greatest offensive team of this day had 10 possessions. Indy ended punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, field goal, punt, punt, fumble, interception. New England's defense was magnificent. Did you see the look in Tedy Bruschi's eyes, and how he flat stole the ball from Dominic Rhodes. And how Rodney Harrison played like every down was his last? No team  crushes the opposition with a patchwork team like this, and there is only one conclusion to draw: These players have more pride and hunger than any group of players in all of sports

SI.com - Writers - Peter King's MMQB: Colts crumble in bad weather, while Pats remind us why they're champs - Monday January 17, 2005 5:22PM

 

Kevin Mannix-- Report Card

LINEBACKERS – A+
 

     What DIDN'T these guys do? They rushed the passer effectively, even though the Pats ran only one blitz all evening. They were sure-handed tacklers and when they weren't around the ball they were holding their position along the line to make sure James didn't have any cutback areas.
 

     Bruschi was the player of the game for the Pats, finishing with eight tackles, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and very good coverage on James, who was Manning's favorite receiver (12 of Manning's 42 passes went toward him).
 

     He had plenty of competition, though. Vrabel had the Pats' only sack and forced a fumble on the same play, adding eight tackles to the effort. He also joined Roman Phifer in disrupting Dallas Clark's game substantially. Clark had been one of the Colts' leading receivers in recent weeks, but he had two catches for 26 yards and two drops.
 

     As a group, they did a tremendous job protecting the middle of the field in the intermediate areas. McGinest had only two tackles, but he also batted down two passes.

 

They're not going to the Pro Bowl, but Harrison, Tedy Bruschi [news], Eugene Wilson [news], Mike Vrabel [news], Willie McGinest [news] and the rest of the Pats' defensive players are now everybody's favorite team.

 

 

 

SI hex? Got it covered!
By Inside Track
Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Curse? We don't need no stinkin' Curse! The Bambino is dead, and so is the Sports Illustrated cover hex.
 

      Because the New England Patriots have been coverboys three times this season and they're still the team to beat as they roll toward Super Bowl XXXIX. (The Red Sox also made it a few times and look how that turned out. . . .)
 

     Although Tom Brady was the poster boy for the two previous Pats covers, this week Tedy Bruschi and the defense are front and center.
 

      ``Bruschi stood out,'' SI noted in its coverage of the Pats' riding roughshod over the Indianapolis Colts. ``But everyone on the New England defense played like a star.''

 

 

 

On Pittsburg:

"You have to acknowledge what they did to you last time," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "And if you don't fix it, the same thing can happen again."

The Steelers rushed for 221 yards, killing the final 6:27 on seven running plays, a pass and three quarterback kneels.

Only twice in the past 29 games has Belichick been forced to watch an opposing quarterback kneel to end a game.

Belichick and Bruschi insisted that this game won't revolve around the kinds of exotic schemes that Belichick so frequently cooks up.

"We're similar teams with similar mentalities," Bruschi said. "It might come down to, 'Are you tougher than me, or am I tougher than you?' "

 

 

"I think we're similar teams with similar mentalities," Bruschi said. "This is smashmouth football, two of the most physical teams in football squaring off on Sunday."

 

 "Turning on that tape is all the motivation I need," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "There's a reason why we're going to Pittsburgh to play, because they're 15-1 and we're 14-2."

Bruschi, maybe the most underappreciated player in football, was the best player on the field Sunday against the Colts. The most impressive of his big plays occurred when he diagnosed a second-and-17 screen pass to Dominic Rhodes and came from the other side of the field to take the ball right out of his arms for a fumble.

"You know, man, I'm getting tired of talking about that play," Bruschi said yesterday. "I'm tired of it. I'm on to Pittsburgh. That's all I'm about right now."

His eyes glazed over again when he was asked about appearing on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated.

"My sister e-mailed me," Bruschi said. "She was going crazy. She was happy about it. I'll give you that. That's about all."

 

 

Patriots linebacker wins NFL’s defensive honors

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- Linebacker Tedy Bruschi has been named the NFL Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the 20-to-3 playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Bruschi’s most memorable play came in the second quarter when he not only tackled Dominic Rhodes after a short pass, but wrestled the ball right out of Rhodes’ arms for a fumble recovery.

He also recovered a Reggie Wayne fumble later in the game.

Bruschi twice won the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award during the regular season.

 

On Seymour and TEAM:

Bruschi was asked yesterday if New England needs Seymour on the field to move on to their third Super Bowl in four years.

"I wouldn't say need, I would say want," he said. "I would say want. You want your best out there. I want Richard out there. But I'm not going to say we need him because if you start looking at it that way, then you sort of start approaching the game differently -- oh, we need Richard to do this, we need Richard to do that -- but I feel like the guys we have in there can do the job also. So if he can play, it's an added bonus. The guys in front of me already are extremely proven."

On Team Chemistry:

Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi believes that togetherness is a key to his team's success.  Whenever you see a guy who maybe feels like he doesn't fit in -- maybe he's a little quieter and doesn't want to participate in some our jabs and joking around -- we won't just leave him alone," Bruschi said. "We'll keep coming at him and coming at him and coming at him until they acknowledge, 'Hey, man, it's cool. We're all in this together.'

 

`` I think it's the overwhelming attitude in the locker room of how many years we have,'' Bruschi said Friday at Gillette Stadium when asked to discuss the value of experience. `` I mean, we have close to 90 years of experience in the NFL, so with that comes a lot of wins a lot of losses. A lot of guys know what it's like to go 6-10, to not make the playoffs, and to get back to winning the Super Bowl.''
 

 

Big Willie remains the heart of his team.
 

     ``He's really the attitude-setter around here,'' linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] said.
 

     Bruschi maintains that McGinest, after all these years, still surprises people with his strength.
 

     ``Whether it's a big tight end or a scat receiver, when (McGinest) gets his hands on him, that guy's not going anywhere,'' Bruschi said. ``That's the kind of physical mentality he sets.''
 

Bruschi in the middle of things again
By Associated Press
Tuesday, January 18, 2005

FOXBORO, Mass. - He can dissect Peyton Manning's every tendency, neutralizing the NFL MVP's record-setting talent in game after game. He relishes the chess match with opposing coaches - always staying one move ahead.

      But there's one person Bill Belichick [news] can't figure out, and he's right in the New England Patriots [stats, news]' locker room - linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news].

      ``Tedy is a very instinctive player,'' Belichick said. ``It's not something you really can coach.

      ``That is why you want him on the field, no matter what the situation is. He is the kind of guy you always want on the field, because if something unexpected happens like that, he almost always does the right thing.''

Belichick is not known to gush, but Bruschi earned the coach's praise by recovering two fumbles Sunday to help the Patriots beat the Colts 20-3 and advance to the AFC title game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

 New England led 6-0 in the second quarter when Indianapolis drove to the Patriots' 29 yard-line. A holding penalty put them back to the 39. On the next play, Indianapolis running back Dominic Rhodes caught a pass in the backfield and was met immediately by Bruschi, who managed to rip the ball away before the two players hit the ground together.

      ``What that is is somebody wanting it more than the other guy,'' Bruschi said. ``It was me and him, and the ball was right there. That was a takeaway. Hopefully, they won't be calling that a giveaway because that was a takeaway.''

The play kept the Colts off the scoreboard on that drive. They got the ball back on a punt, but the loss of field position and time kept them from reaching the end zone before halftime, and they kicked a 23-yard field goal to go into the locker room down 6-3.

      Bruschi had a smaller part in the Colts' other fumble, falling on the ball after Rodney Harrison [news] knocked it out of Reggie Wayne's hands. He also fielded a short kickoff to start the second half and returned it 15 yards to the 44 yard-line.

      ``He has a great knack for the ball,'' Belichick said. ``He has a great feel for just playing football, whether it is kickoff returns, punt team, the running game, pass coverage or blitzing. He just has to make a decision sometimes in a tight situation and it seems like he almost always does the right thing.''

 Bruschi also had eight tackles, which, after all, is his primary responsibility. It's the second time in as many games against the Colts that he's made an impact: He intercepted Manning at the 1 yard-line on Indianapolis' first drive in the season opener, a 27-24 Patriots win.

Bruschi bit his lip during the offseason, hearing all about how the Patriots secondary manhandled - illegally, the Colts say - the Indianapolis receivers. The NFL told officials to pay closer attention to contact more than five yards from the line of scrimmage.

      The Patriots said they wouldn't be deterred by the new ``point of emphasis,'' and they weren't. But Manning, who set NFL records with 49 touchdowns and a 121.1 passer rating in the regular season, delivered his worst performance this year, failing to throw a touchdown pass for the first time on his way to a 69.3 rating.

      ``I wonder what rules they want to change now. Maybe it will be we can't play a game in the snow. I don't know, but they will think of something,'' Bruschi said. ``I was just tired of it. I was tired of hearing ... how we didn't win the game, that they lost the game by giving the ball away.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Bruschi in the middle of things again

NFL: Bruschi Boston's new 'Tedy Ballgame'

FOXBORO, Mass. - Bill Belichick can dissect Peyton Manning's every tendency, neutralizing the NFL MVP's record-setting talent in game after game. He relishes the chess match with opposing coaches - always staying one move ahead.

There's one person Belichick can't quite figure out, though, and he's right there in the New England Patriots' locker room.

"Tedy (Bruschi) is a very instinctive player. It's not something you really can coach," Belichick said about the former University of Arizona star.

Belichick is not known to gush, but Bruschi earned the coach's praise by recovering two fumbles Sunday to help New England beat the Colts 20-3 and advance to the AFC title game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"He is the kind of guy you always want on the field, because if something unexpected happens like that, he almost always does the right thing," Belichick said of the player some fans are calling "Tedy Ballgame," an homage to former Red Sox Ted Williams' "Teddy Ballgame" nickname.

New England led 6-0 in the second quarter Sunday when Indianapolis drove into Patriots' territory, and Dominic Rhodes caught a pass in the backfield and was met immediately by Bruschi.

While bringing down the Colts' running back, Bruschi managed to gain possession of the ball, and the two players hit the ground together.

Bruschi said the play was a case of "somebody wanting it more than the other guy. It was me and him, and the ball was right there. That was a takeaway. Hopefully, they won't be calling that a giveaway, because that was a takeaway."

The play kept the Colts off the scoreboard on that drive and, when they got the ball back on a punt, the loss of field position and time kept them from reaching the end zone before having to kick a field goal from the 5-yard line at the end of the half.

Bruschi had a smaller part in the Colts' other fumble, falling on the ball after Rodney Harrison knocked it out of Reggie Wayne's hands. He also showed he could think quickly when he fielded a short kickoff to start the second half and returned it 15 yards to the 44-yard line.

"He has a great knack for the ball," Belichick said. "He has a great feel for just playing football, whether it is kickoff returns, punt team, the running game, pass coverage or blitzing."

Bruschi also had eight tackles in the game, which, after all, is his primary responsibility. It's the second time in as many games against the Colts that he's made an impact: He intercepted Manning at the 1-yard line on Indianapolis' first drive in the season opener.

For Bruschi, it was all he could do to bite his lip while hearing all offseason about how the Patriots' secondary manhandled - illegally, the Colts say - the Indianapolis receivers. During the offseason, the NFL told officials to pay closer attention to contact more than five yards from the line of scrimmage.

The Patriots said they wouldn't be deterred by the new "point of emphasis," and they weren't.

Manning, who set NFL records with 49 touchdowns and a 121.1 passer rating in the regular season, delivered his worst performance of the season, failing to throw a touchdown pass for the first time.

"I wonder what rules they want to change now," Bruschi said. "Maybe it will be we can't play a game in the snow. I don't know, but they will think of something. I was just tired of it. I was tired of hearing how we didn't win the game, that they lost the game by giving the ball away."

NFL: Bruschi Boston's new 'Tedy Ballgame'

Versatility is a virtue

By TOM KING, Telegraph Staff

Published: Friday, Jan. 21, 2005

 

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Every year the voters say there’s not an All-Pro in the bunch. But collectively, the New England Patriots linebackers form a unit that is perhaps the best in the National Football League.

They’ll be out to prove it in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (Ch. 4, 6:30 p.m.).

In last weekend’s AFC Divisional playoff win against Indianapolis, it appeared the Colts played right into the Patriots’ hands by running routes in territory covered by Patriots linebackers. This Sunday, they’ll try to contain roving Steelers rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as well as drape their arms around the mammoth legs of Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis.

“The Steelers have the best running game in the league, and they run play-action passes that go with it,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “So the problem for the linebackers is defending the run, and getting back to help the secondary on those intermediate play-action passes.”

But the versatile crew of Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Roman Phifer, Ted Johnson, Rosevelt Colvin, and Willie McGinest has more than been up to that task all season. That has allowed Belichick to mix and match, depending on who the opponent is.

“I think it’s a good group,” Belichick said. “The players are very interchangeable. They work well together. They’re unselfish. They communicate well. It doesn’t really matter who’s in there. That doesn’t affect what we call or what we try to play. I know that’s comforting. I have been there calling defenses and I know that’s a comforting thing for (defensive coordinator) Romeo (Crennel).

“The worst situation in the world is to be sitting there saying, ‘Well, this guy is in there. We need to call this. Well, now that guy is in there, I have to call something else. Somebody else is in there. We don’t want to be doing this. We want to be doing that.’ It’s just hard to call a game like that.”

Instead, Belichick and Crennel have faith in the unit as a whole.

It’s much easier when you have players who can go in there and you don’t even notice or care who is in there,” Belichick said. “They are able to do what you want them to do. That’s a good situation that we have at linebacker with the six guys that play (regularly).”

Of course, the scheme the Patriots play – a 3-4 alignment – puts an emphasis on good linebacker play, which is why they employ it in the first place.

“I think that the more opportunities that you have to get five guys on the field that are linebackers is good,” Vrabel said. “Obviously, I enjoy it and Tedy Bruschi and McGinest and Ted Johnson, all through the line.”

Especially Bruschi, who continues to land accolades from his teammates.

“He made plays in college (at Arizona) and he’s made plays since he’s been here,” Vrabel said. “It continues and he’s just a guy that’s just a football player making football plays. It’s not something that you can practice and it’s not something that you can coach. . . . You have guys that can go out there and you have guys that can’t, and Tedy is certainly one that makes (plays) and makes them at important times in the game.”

Bruschi certainly felt the linebacker corps would be strong.

“From the beginning,” he said. “It’s not like we’ve had some new cog come in. Last year, Rosevelt came in and got hurt, but we’ve gotten to know him. We’ve had the same guys around here for a long time. That’s what makes it so good.”

That familiarity is what makes it work, the linebackers say.

“I think I know what Willie is going to do before he does it,” Bruschi said. “I think I know what Ted’s going to say before he says it. And when Phifer comes in or with Vrabel, I feel the same way. We just know each other inside and out.”

“I think we can all do each others’ jobs,” McGinest said. “We can all do a lot of different things. Having guys like Bruschi, Vrabel, Johnson and Colvin, you can do a lot of different things. You can move guys into different positions. You can rotate. You have versatile players who can rush, who can cover tight ends, who can cover backs.

“When you face different offenses, if you can move around and have guys doing different things all the time . . . you can fool people. We try to fool people. We try to disguise a lot. We try to turn it into a chess game.”

Belichick isn’t worried about playing chess. He’s worried about his linebackers making sure the Steelers receivers and running backs don’t run wild in the secondary.

“The thing with the Steelers on play action is they’re not looking for a 2-yard gain,” Belichick said. “When they throw play action and they hit it, it hurts – it’s 15, 20, 25, 30 yards. So the linebacker, if he recognizes it, needs to get back into those intermediate areas and take those routes away. . . . That’s really the problem for the linebackers, to recognize the run-pass keys and then match to the patterns after they’ve seen it, pick the guy up down the field. That’s really what they have to defend.

“And that’s tough. With their backs, whether it’s (Duce) Staley or Bettis, I think that the thing that both of those guys do a real good job of, they have a lot of patience in the running game. They know that sooner or later in the play, their line’s going to create a hole for them. . . . They just keep pressing the line of scrimmage, and they’re patient that’s something’s going to open up there. . . . If you jump over too quick, they do a good job of coming to where those holes open up.”

The Telegraph Online


Linebacker corps special

By Chris Kennedy

There is more than just a level of comfort at this point, but rather it is more a sense of unity that helps create a total that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Considering the quality of the parts, that is saying something.

The New England Patriots have always been able to depend on their linebackers, at least when healthy, to make plays and cover a variety of responsibilities. It's six players for four spots in the team's 3-4 defense, and the division of labor has to this point been effective.

Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi are the starters on the inside with Roman Phifer also seeing time there. Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel start on the outside with Rosevelt Colvin the substitute. The lineup was much the same last year, although Phifer played more than Johnson rather than the other way around and Colvin was sidelined with a fractured hip.

Phifer and Vrabel joined the team in 2001, Colvin in 2003, but the other three are career Patriots who were in town when New England coach Bill Belichick arrived in 2000.

"It's not like we had some new cog come in," Bruschi said. "Last year, Rosevelt came in and got hurt, but we got to know him. We've had the same guys around here for a long time. That's what makes it so good.

"I think I know what Willie is going to do before he does it. I think I know what Ted is going to say before he says it. And when Phifer and Vrabel come in, I feel the same way."

Each has his own set of skills. On the inside, Johnson is a physical run-stopper, Bruschi an instinctive playmaker and Phifer a more athletic linebacker with better coverage skills. On the outside, McGinest is a physical playmaker, Vrabel an all-around presence and Colvin a pass rusher.

Bruschi has 128 tackles and Johnson 112, which shows the defensive line has been giving those two chances to make plays and they have been delivering. McGinest has 9.5 sacks and Vrabel 5.5, so those two have produced on the outside.

Despite those specific talents, however, each linebacker seems to be able to handle whatever comes his way.

"It doesn't really matter who is in there," Belichick said. "That doesn't affect what we call or what we try to play. I have been there calling defenses (in the past), and I know that is a comforting thing for (defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel). The worst situation in the world is to be sitting there saying, 'Well this guy is in there. We need to call this. Well, now that guy is in there. I have to call something else. Somebody else is in there. We don't want to be doing this. We want to be doing that.'

"It is just hard to call a game like that. It is much easier when you have players who can go in there and really you don't even notice or care who is in there."

Last season, the linebacking group was decimated by injuries. This season, the group has been healthy, allowing the Patriots to fully take advantage of the depth at that position. And not only is it a talented group, but it is a smart one, too, something Belichick and Crennel must also appreciate.

"You have versatile players who can rush, who can cover tight ends, who can cover backs," McGinest said. "When you play different offenses, you can move guys around and fool people. We try to fool people. We try to disguise a lot. We try to run a chess game."

When the Patriots visit the Steelers Sunday for the AFC Championship Game, they might not even have the best linebacking group in the game.

Inside linebacker James Farrior, who probably had the best season of any linebacker in the league this season, plays alongside Larry Foote on the inside for the Steelers in their 3-4. Joey Porter and Clark Haggans have combined for 13 sacks coming from the outside spots.

Imagine how good this group would be if 2001 NFL rookie defensive player of the year Kendrell Bell had been healthy all season.

"When it comes down to it," New England center Dan Koppen said of the Steelers defense, "Pittsburgh just has solid players that know how to play their positions and make plays. They are not afraid to hit you."

New England's X-factor

Pats' LB Bruschi continues to shine in critical games.

By Jimmy Golen | Associated Press
Published on Wednesday, January 19, 2005
URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/index.cfm/i/011905sp_bruschi
 

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Bill Belichick can dissect Peyton Manning's every tendency, neutralizing the NFL MVP's record-setting talent in game after game. He relishes the chess match with opposing coaches -- always staying one move ahead.

There's one person Belichick can't quite figure out, though, and he's right there in the New England Patriots' locker room.

"Tedy (Bruschi) is a very instinctive player. It's not something you really can coach," Belichick said this week.

Belichick is not known to gush, but the Patriots linebacker earned the coach's praise by recovering two fumbles to help New England beat the Colts 20-3 and advance to Sunday's AFC title game against the Steelers.

"He is the kind of guy you always want on the field, because if something unexpected happens like that, he almost always does the right thing," Belichick said.

New England led 6-0 in the second quarter Sunday when Indianapolis drove to the Patriots' 29 yard-line. On the next play Dominic Rhodes caught a pass in the backfield and was met immediately by Bruschi.

While bringing down the Colts RB, Bruschi managed to gain possession of the ball and the two players hit the ground together.

Bruschi said the play was a case of "somebody wanting it more than the other guy. It was me and him, and the ball was right there. That was a takeaway. Hopefully, they won't be calling that a giveaway because that was a takeaway."

Bruschi had a smaller part in the Colts' other fumble, falling on the ball after Rodney Harrison knocked it out of Reggie Wayne's hands. He also showed he could think quickly when he fielded a short kickoff to start the second half and returned it 15 yards to the 44 yard-line.

"He has a great knack for the ball," Belichick said. "He has a great feel for just playing football, whether it is kickoff returns, punt team, the running game, pass coverage or blitzing."

San Francisco Examiner: New England's X-factor

Playing Steelers A Smash
Bruschi: It's All About Toughness

January 21, 2005
By ALAN GREENBERG, Courant Staff Writer

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Other teams wear throwback jerseys. The Steelers are a throwback team.

Their offense is as hard and unyielding as coach Bill Cowher's jutting jaw.

The Steelers led the AFC in rushing and would have led the NFL if not for the uniquely talented Michael Vick in Atlanta.

They have an offensive line led by guard Alan Faneca and center Jeff Hartings, both Pro Bowl players. Behind them is a 5-foot-11, 255-pound path-clearing rolling rock - better known as fullback Dan Kreider - and behind him is either 256-pound Jerome Bettis or 245-pound Duce Staley. They're the ones with the football, and as much as he'd like to, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi knows it's rather unlikely he'll be ripping it out of their arms the way he did right after the Colts' Dominic Rhodes caught a pass in the flat last Sunday.

"The running game sets it all up for them," Bruschi said. "We're going to have to stop the run to win."

Every team that plays the Steelers (15-1, 1-0) knows that and says that, but nobody really does it. In compiling the league's best record and a 15-game winning streak, the Steelers have turned the clock back 40 years, to a time when all college coaches, and some in the NFL, liked to say that "three things happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad."

The Steelers ran the ball a league-high 618 times this season and threw only 358 passes. It's not as if they don't have a solid quarterback in rookie Ben Roethlisberger (17 TDs, 11 interceptions) or capable receivers. Hines Ward (80 catches for 1,004 yards) was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth consecutive year, and Plaxico Burress' stats (35 catches for 698 yards, a 19.9 average) are pretty impressive considering he missed nearly half the season with a leg injury.

What they have is the mind-set that running the football is Steelers football. Last season with a seemingly burned-out Bettis, no Staley (he was with the Eagles) and an injury-riddled offensive line, the Steelers were uneasy riders on Tommy Maddox's inconsistent right arm. They finished 6-10 and next-to-last in the league in rushing.

Now, they have a healthy line and Bettis is rejuvenated because of his lighter workload.

"Bettis, Staley, Roethlisberger, you've really got to bring your lunch when you tackle these guys," Bruschi said. "If you don't bring Roethlisberger down the first time you hit him, which we didn't always do in the first game [a 34-20 Steelers victory Oct. 31], he's going to throw it to Plaxico."

At 6-5, 240 pounds, Roethlisberger isn't easy to bring down. And as a former college basketball player, Burress wins most jump balls against shorter defenders.

"This is a game where the schemes don't matter," Bruschi said. "It's `Am I tougher than you are? Are you tougher than me?"'

The Patriots' linebacking corps has been tougher than most this season. After an injury-riddled 2003 in which Rosevelt Colvin (broken hip) played only one full game and Mike Vrabel and Ted Johnson missed chunks of the season, only Roman Phifer, six weeks shy of his 37th birthday and the oldest player on the team, has missed playing time. The 6-4, 255-pound Johnson, the best run-stopper among Patriots linebackers, is enjoying something of a renaissance after several injury plagued seasons. He could be a key performer Sunday after having a much smaller role against the pass-oriented Colts.

The Patriots' best defensive lineman, Richard Seymour, sustained an injury to his left knee Dec. 26 against the Jets and hasn't played since. He is still listed as questionable for the AFC Championship Game Sunday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

"He's feeling better," coach Bill Belichick said Thursday morning. "He did a little more [at the Wednesday afternoon practice] than he did last week."

Vrabel, who doesn't get as much action at his outside linebacker position because Seymour is usually in front of him, said that when opponents try to attack the 6-6, 310-pound Seymour, "it's like getting your hand caught in a car door. It's a long time before you think about trying it again."

Because the Steelers' smashmouth style is so different than the Colts' finesse-oriented offense, Seymour's presence would seem to be even more vital to the Patriots this week. If he doesn't play or isn't effective, it will put more pressure on his replacement, Jarvis Green, and the linebackers.

In the Oct. 31 game, the Steelers rushed for 221 yards, the most allowed by the Patriots this season. Staley carried 25 times for 125 yards, Bettis 15 for 65.

"Guys were clawing to make a play that wasn't there," Colvin said. "Guys being out of position. Like myself."

"As bad as it was," Bruschi said, "you've still got to watch [the game tape] to see what happened."

 The Hartford Courant - SPORTS


AP

arrowTedy Bruschi, above, and his fellow linebackers don't win many postseason honors, but are the heart of the defense.
 

The Bru Crew

Friday, January 21, 2005 FOXBORO, Mass. - Funny how the New England linebackers hold one of the keys to victory in their hands for Sunday's AFC title game at Pittsburgh, yet not one of them can get any recognition on his own.

Tedy Bruschi? If he's so good, how come he can't get into a Pro Bowl? Mike Vrabel? He's a sidebar this week because he was a Steelers backup before becoming a Patriots starter.

Willie McGinest and Ted Johnson? Good stories, once. Dinosaurs, now.

Rosevelt Colvin and Roman Phifer? Role players.

Yet in reading that six-man roster, you get the idea. There is strength in these numbers, strength enough to vault the Patriots into their third Super Bowl in four years.

"You got brothers at home? I've got my brothers and my family, but these guys are my football brothers,'' said Bruschi, the face of the middle tier of the Pats' defense. "I've been playing the sport since I was 14. I've been around so many locker rooms, so many meetings. You develop bonds with guys that you just can't break.''

Brothers aren't always unselfish, but the New England 'backers don't seem to care that they are part of a nearly anonymous group on a nearly anonymous defense that merely held Peyton Manning to no touchdown passes and one field goal in the 20-3 divisional playoff romp. One of ESPN's pregame features on the Patriots, not surprisingly, will bring together four of the LBs for five-minute interviews. Don't be surprised if the phrase "Band of Brothers'' is uttered somewhere in the piece.

"Personal accolades are great,'' said McGinest, the only Patriots linebacker to play in a Pro Bowl (2003) since the Patriots began their championship run with the 2001 season. "But if you can't elevate your team to play better or get guys to play better off your performance in the system or as a team member, you can't be a leader. And if you don't win, who cares?''

The Patriots have continued winning this season because of players such as quarterback Tom Brady and running back Corey Dillon on offense and end Richard Seymour and safety Rodney Harrison on defense. But the glue to the "D'' is the linebackers. Their toughness, along with that of nose tackle Keith Traylor, keeps running games under control. Their blitz aptitude plays with the heads of enemy quarterbacks. Their communications skills, among themselves and in conjunction with that celebrated patchwork secondary, holds the pass defense together.

"I think it's a good group,'' coach Bill Belichick said. "The players are very interchangeable. They work well together. They are unselfish. It doesn't really matter who is in there. I know that is comforting. The worst situation in the world is to be saying, 'Well, this guy is in there, we need to call this, somebody else is in there, we don't want to be doing this.' It's much easier when you have players who can go in and really you don't even notice or care who's in there.''

"In some situations you go to, the players can't handle stuff like that,'' Colvin said. "This is a different story. You have a lot of mature guys in the locker room. They do a good job of keeping a level head.''

Bruschi, the leader of the band, said the Patriots' linebackers have been this way as long as he can remember.

"It's not like we've had some new cog come in,'' he said. "Last year Rosevelt got hurt, but we've gotten to know him. We've had the same guys around here for a long time. That's what makes it so good. I know what Willie's going to do before he does it. I know what Ted's going to say before he says it. We just know each other inside out.''

One who has faced Bruschi can't figure out why he's not better-known.

"Tedy has a knack for making huge plays,'' said Jets guard Pete Kendall. "I don't know that he's necessarily prototypical [for a linebacker], but when you look at the stat sheet, you say you want a guy who makes plays like that. He plays hard and he really plays with a passion, a joy for the game.''

The brothers' challenge this weekend is significantly different than last week's. The 'backers won't get to rattle rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger's cage unless they slam the door on Mr. Inside, Jerome Bettis, and Mr. Inside Too, Duce Staley.

The Steelers, Bruschi said, "really want to pound the ball at you. They have Bettis. Then other teams have a change-up, they bring in a back who doesn't want to be physical so they can give you a change of pace, but the Steelers bring Duce. He wants to do the same thing as Bettis, but he's fresh. It's going to be pound-pound-pound and whether we can stop them or not.''

But this band has shown that it infrequently bends and rarely breaks.

North Jersey Media Group providing local news, sports & classifieds for Northern New Jersey!


Bruschi no stranger to the big play

FOXBORO -- The New England Patriots forced three fumbles in Sunday’s playoff win against the Colts, and it should come as no surprise that Tedy Bruschi was involved in all of them.

Bruschi, a ninth-year linebacker, has been one of the most consistent players during the Bill Belichick era, and he’s earned a reputation for being a top-notch performer in big games. On Sunday, he forced a fumble and recovered two as the Patriots became the first team to hold Indianapolis without a touchdown all season.

"Tedy’s a very, very instinctive player," Belichick said Monday. "He’s got a great knack for the ball. He’s got a great feel for just playing football, whether it’s kickoff returns, the punt game, run defense, pass coverage, blitzing -- he has to make a decision sometimes in a tight situation and it seems like he always does the right thing.

"He just instinctively knows when he can get there and when he can’t, when to use his hands, when to try to dive over a guy -- he’s just a great decision-maker in a very short amount of time. A couple of plays he made (Sunday) were plays other guys wouldn’t have made, and a lot of guys probably wouldn’t think of making, but he saw something and he did it."

With the Patriots leading, 6-0, in the second quarter, Bruschi stopped the Colts dead in their tracks as they were approaching the red zone. Peyton Manning completed a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage to Dominic Rhodes, and as the running back turned to head up the field, Bruschi ripped the ball from his hands at the Patriots 41.

Mid-way through the fourth quarter, he was in the right place at the right time again when safety Rodney Harrison knocked the ball from Reggie Wayne’s hands. Bruschi recovered the fumble at the Indianapolis 35.

Belichick compared Bruschi’s play-making ability to that of former Giants linebacker Harry Carson, whom he coached in New York from 1979-88. Carson would often make a big play, but not be able to describe how -- or why -- he did because it was something instinctive.

"Harry was the same way," Belichick said. "I used to try to get him with the younger linebackers and say, ‘Harry, how did you know this play was the trap, and not the trap pass, because they look exactly alike?’ He’d say, ‘I don’t know. It just didn’t look like the pass to me, so that’s why I hit it. It looked like the run.’ He couldn’t really explain it, but he just knew by the tempo of the play and by the way seven or eight guys were moving what it is. That’s what good football players do."

The Call - Sports - 01/18/2005 - Bruschi no stranger to the big play

 

 

Playoff Playmaker

PITTSBURGH -

It has occurred so often, you can rule out luck or coincidence.

Tedy Bruschi simply makes big plays in big games.

Any remaining skeptics can tune in Sunday evening for the next installment of Patriot Games as Bruschi lines up for his 14th postseason appearance.

In a nine-year career teeming with clutch performances, Bruschi faces the Steelers coming off a virtuoso effort against the Colts.

``It's not something that you can practice or coach,'' fellow Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel said after Bruschi forced one fumble and recovered two others in a 20-3 humbling of Indianapolis. ``You have guys that can go out there and you have guys that can't, and Tedy is certainly one that makes plays and makes them at important times in the game.''

The former University of Arizona defensive lineman figures to play a key role against the AFC's premier ground game, one that pounded out 221 yards in a 34-20 triumph Oct. 31 that shattered New England's 21-game winning streak.

``This will be the most physical game of the year,'' Bruschi said Friday. ``They do what they do, and they do it well.''

Bill Belichick, lauded as a coach who puts his players in the best position to excel, acknowledges Bruschi is a different breed.

``Tedy is a very, very instinctive player,'' Belichick said. ``He has a great knack for the ball and a great feel for just playing football. It seems like he almost always does the right thing.''

Bruschi did it all against the Colts, wrestling the ball away from running back Dominic Rhodes on a screen pass and pouncing on a Reggie Wayne fumble after a jarring hit by safety Rodney Harrison.

He made eight tackles and even got his name on the offensive scoresheet, returning a short kickoff 15 yards to start the second half.

Bruschi first displayed his poise under pressure during his rookie season in 1996, when he was relegated primarily to special teams.

He grabbed his first NFL interception in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game, securing a victory against Jacksonville, then posted two sacks against Brett Favre in the Super Bowl loss to Green Bay.

``Bruschi and Vrabel remind me of the same type of guys - they're just football players,'' Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. ``They understand the game. Those guys to me are two peas in a pod.''

As an inside linebacker in New England's 3-4 scheme, Bruschi has a multitude of responsibilities.

On Sunday, he will be asked to stuff the power running game of Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley, who operate behind a smart, mobile line.

When veteran wide receiver Hines Ward goes over the middle to keep the chains moving, Bruschi will be asked to step into the passing lane.

He also excels as a pass rusher, registering 25 career sacks to go along with 11 interceptions and 17 forced fumbles.

Like most Patriots, Bruschi is a player of immense pride who has a score to settle with Pittsburgh and rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

``There was a point where we hadn't lost in a long time and somebody actually handed it to us,'' he said. ``It was the Pittsburgh Steelers - and they beat us pretty good. That's our motivation, not to let that happen again.''

In New England's 2001 playoff run, Bruschi recorded 15 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery.

Last season's three-game postseason stint produced 18 tackles. As Colts quarterback Peyton Manning will attest, he's off to quite a start this time around.

``Earlier in my career, it was motivation for me to prove people wrong,'' said Bruschi, who lasted until the third round of the '96 draft despite compiling 52 sacks at Arizona. ``You get to the point where you've proven enough.''

Even to your demanding coach.

``No matter what the situation is, you want Tedy Bruschi on the field,'' Belichick said. ``If something unexpected happens, he almost always does the right thing.''

 

Playoff Playmaker: From The Tampa Tribune

Ticket to Super Bowl: Steelers stand in way of defending champs

By ERIC McHUGH
The Patriot Ledger

FOXBORO - It doesn't faze him during practice. He barely thinks about it when he's sitting in defensive meetings. It's only when Tedy Bruschi lays his head down on the pillow at night that the giddy anticipation starts to creep in.

The New England Patriots linebacker knows he should be drifting off to sleep, but visions of an AFC championship in Pittsburgh and a Super Bowl victory in Jacksonville, Fla., keep dancing in his head. It's then that he heeds his own advice.

‘‘I try to do the same things I teach my sons - take a deep breath and relax,'' Bruschi said. ‘‘Try to just calm down.''

As if that's an option for Patriots fans right now.

To borrow a phrase from former coach Pete Carroll, fans are ‘‘pumped and jacked'' this week, knowing their favorite team is just a victory away from its third Super Bowl appearance in four years.

On Sunday, the 15-2 Patriots will travel to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh to face the 16-1 Steelers in the AFC championship game. If the Pats can find some of their old magic there - remember, they upset Pittsburgh in the conference title game three years ago - they will join some select company.

The Dallas Cowboys of 1992, '93 and '95 are the only team to play in three Super Bowls in four years, and they won all three. That means the Patriots, Super Bowl champs in 2001 and 2004, are on the verge of history.

Heady stuff.

‘‘This is the playoffs, man,'' left tackle Matt Light said this week, surveying the massive media armada that had invaded the team's locker room at Gillette Stadium. ‘‘It doesn't get any tougher than this. This is as big as it gets.''

Actually, it will get even bigger if the Patriots can slip by the Steelers. Then it would be on to Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville on Feb. 6 against either Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons or Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is getting to be a habit for veterans such as Bruschi, who was even around for the Patriots' Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers following the 1996 season.

However, to newcomers such as punter Josh Miller, a longtime member of the Steelers who signed with the Patriots in the off-season, a victory Sunday would make a career-long dream come true.

‘‘I just want to win a (conference) championship game,'' said Miller, who failed in two tries with Pittsburgh. ‘‘That's what it comes down to. I want to go to the Super Bowl and see what that's all about. I've watched it on TV since I was a tiny little guy. I want to get there.''

History says he picked the right franchise. The Patriots are an NFL-best 4-0 all-time in AFC finals, while the Steelers are 1-3 in this round under current coach Bill Cowher.

But a Patriots victory Sunday is hardly guaranteed, especially since the teams met in Pittsburgh on Halloween and the Steelers delivered a thorough thrashing.

The Patriots fell behind, 21-3, in the first quarter and looked helpless on both sides of the ball.

‘‘It wasn't even a game last time,'' linebacker Mike Vrabel, another ex-Steeler, said with disgust. ‘‘They were running the clock out after halftime.''

In the good news department, the Patriots should have running back Corey Dillon and receiver Deion Branch in the lineup. Both missed the regular-season meeting with injuries.

The Patriots' defense, which has been battered by poor health, is coming off its finest moment, last Sunday's 20-3 playoff victory over an Indianapolis Colts team that had been an offensive juggernaut.

The loss to the Steelers in October ended the Patriots' NFL-record 21-game winning streak. Winning the rematch would be a heck of a consolation prize.

‘‘This is it,'' tight end Christian Fauria said. ‘‘Everybody is playing for that one big ticket to Jacksonville.''

Pleasant dreams.

The Patriot Ledger at SouthofBoston.com

Bruschi's play is inspired

The veteran linebacker says his family provides him with motivation.

Special to The Palm Beach Post

Saturday, January 22, 2005

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Early in his career, New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi's all-out style of play was motivated by a love for the game and a desire to prove he belonged in the NFL. Now in his ninth season out of Arizona, his passion for football remains as strong as ever, but his motivation comes from a different source.

"I think you get to the point where you've proven enough," Bruschi said. "I feel I've gotten to that point, and my motivation has changed now that I've further progressed in my life. I'm a father now and a husband, and my main motivation is to make my family proud. That's even more motivation than having a chip on my shoulder."

Wherever his inspiration comes from, Bruschi's play has helped put New England (15-2) on the verge of its third Super Bowl appearance in four years as the team prepares for Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On a team known for its success despite its lack of superstars, Bruschi's standout play of late has garnered accolades.

In New England's 20-3 win against the Indianapolis Colts last week, Bruschi had eight tackles, forced one fumble and recovered two others as the Patriots limited Peyton Manning and the NFL's top-scoring offense to just a field goal. For his efforts, Bruschi was named the AFC's defensive player of the week for the third time this season and landed on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated.

Bruschi and linebackers Mike Vrabel, Ted Johnson and Willie McGinest are at the heart of the New England defense's success.

"Our linebackers are so versatile," Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said. "They can rush, they can drop into coverage, they can blitz. I think they do everything well."

Bruschi, Harrison said, is the team's "most instinctual" linebacker, with an uncanny knack for being around the ball. Those instincts resulted in 128 tackles for Bruschi during the regular season, second on the team to Harrison.

Sunday's game is a rematch of the Oct. 31 contest in which the Steelers handed New England its first loss of the season and snapped the Patriots' NFL-record 21-game winning streak.

With that loss in mind, Bruschi isn't overly confident about the prospect of facing rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

"This is the AFC Championship Game," Bruschi said. "I can't really look across the line and say, 'Hey, you're a rookie. We're gonna get you.' You can't do that because of what he's proven — how many victories he has under his belt. So I think his confidence should be pretty high, and we look at him as not a rookie, but a capable opponent."

With snow expected today in Pennsylvania, the Patriots elected to travel to Pittsburgh on Friday night to avoid delays. That was fine with Bruschi, who said he would put the extra time to good use.

"It's been crazy this week," Bruschi said. "I've got a 2-week-old at home that's been keeping me up all week, so it's been sort of tough getting some sleep. I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep and preparing where I don't have any outside distractions tugging on me."

Assuming he rests up in time to continue his strong play, Bruschi figures to once again make his family and Patriots fans proud.

Bruschi's play is inspired

Patriots Notebook: Brady knows modesty is name of the game for Pats

01:00 AM EST on Saturday, January 22, 2005

BY SHALISE MANZA YOUNG
Journal Sports Writer

FOXBORO -- Despite the two Super Bowl MVP tropies, the Hollywood girlfriend, the audience with the Pope and the adoration of an entire region, Tom Brady has remained a humble guy.

If he didn't, rest assured his teammates would waste no time knocking him back down to Earth. And Brady's not the only one that would be put in check.

Asked yesterday why Brady has remained grounded despite all of the attention and accolades heaped on him in his brief-but-successful career, linebacker and team captain Tedy Bruschi said it's the only way the Patriots can be.

"That's the only type of person that's going to fit on this team," Bruschi said. "Any person that thinks he's above anything isn't going to fit in and they're not going to last. If we think there's a guy like that we're going to let you know about it.

"We're going to let him know, there's one way we do things around here, and that's collectively, that's as a team, that's hard work, that's preparation, and we all do the best we can. And if we don't think you're doing enough, we're going to let you know. We may joke about it, but still, we put it out there."

Bruschi said that Brady fully understands that he does not win games all by himself -- the receivers have to catch his passes, the defense has to make tackles and keep the opposition out of the end zone.

But there have been players who have come through the Pats' locker room who have needed that reminder.

Don't ask who -- "What happens on the mile stays on the mile," Bruschi said, referring to the film The Green Mile.

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

THEY'RE HARD CORPS

By MARK CANNIZZARO

January 22, 2005 -- FOXBORO — None of them is a perennial Pro Bowl player, yet as a group, the Patriots' linebacking corps is arguably the best group in the NFL.

Collectively, there's an uncanny synergy that veterans Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Ted Johnson, Mike Vrabel, Rosevelt Colvin and Roman Phifer have built with each other that makes each player know what the guy next to him is going to do before he does it.

"I think we can all do each others' jobs," McGinest said. "We can all do a lot of different things. Having guys like Bruschi, Vrabel, Ted and Rosey, you can do a lot of different things. You can move guys into different positions. You can rotate.

"You have versatile players who can rush, who can cover tight ends, who can cover backs. When you face different offenses, if you can move around and have guys doing different things all the time . . . you can fool people. We try to fool people. We try to disguise a lot. We try to turn it into a chess game."

Each player in the group brings a different level of experience and skill to the field.

McGinest is the best pass rusher of the group; his 91/2 sacks this season led the team. Johnson, like McGinest, was thought to be near the end of his career a year or two ago. Yet Johnson was third on the team with 112 tackles and is one of its best run-stuffers.

Colvin was brought to New England before last year as the Patriots' marquee free-agent pickup, but he quickly was injured and was lost for the season. He's started one game this year, but that doesn't matter to him. Same for Phifer, a former starter, who comes into the game in a rotation.

Vrabel is the player in the group everyone is jealous of, because he plays some offense, too, coming in as a tight end on goal-line situations and catching an occasional TD pass, as he did in the Super Bowl last year.

"He's a big statistical guy," Patriot QB Tom Brady said of Vrabel. "He loves to tell people that he had 12 tackles, an interception, a sack, a forced fumbled and a touchdown catch. He loves that. Just ask him."

Vrabel, of course, isn't like that; he's as humble as the rest of the group, appreciative for whatever opportunities come his way.

There aren't any clashing egos, which is what makes them so special. This is the classic case of the sum of the parts being much more powerful than the individual parts.

If there's one star emerging from this group, it's Bruschi. He's become somewhat of a cult hero because of his name and his production (128 tackles, 31/2 sacks, 3 INTs, 3 forced fumbles).

The prototypical overachieving Bruschi hustle play came last week when, while tackling Colts RB Dominic Rhodes, he ripped the ball out of Rhodes' hands as the two fell to the ground, giving New England the ball.

Bruschi, however, is a reluctant hero, because he's the first to recognize, and embrace, the team-first mantra.

"We do a good job of suppressing success," Bruschi said. "When you start getting a little bit of notoriety, you suppress that, too. Once you start thinking about that, it can alter your preparation. You might start thinking about other things. So I try to push that aside as best I can."

Therein lies the secret to this group's success.

New York Post Online Edition: sports

Bruschi has feel for football

Ira Miller

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Pittsburgh -- The best player in the NFL that hardly anyone knows wears number 54 for the New England Patriots. His name is Tedy Bruschi. He's a linebacker, and like the rest of the Patriots, he is strictly a team-first guy.

You won't see Bruschi showboating or running around the field with his index finger in the air during today's AFC Championship Game. He won't jump in the stands, he wouldn't even do that at home. In fact, he won't do a thing even mildly outrageous.

On second thought, yes he will.

But what Bruschi will do that is outrageous is make plays that you didn't think he could make, such as in last Sunday's divisional playoff game against Indianapolis when he stole the ball from Colts running back Dominic Rhodes, one of two fumbles he recovered in that game.

At another point, Bruschi alertly fielded a short Indianapolis kickoff and managed to return it 15 yards. Most linebackers would have looked for someone to lateral the ball to, but not with New England. The Patriots' players almost always make the right play, and no one on defense does that more than Bruschi.

He can't even explain how he does it sometimes. He just does it.

"Tedy is a very, very instinctive player," said Bill Belichick, the Patriots' coach. "He has a great knack for the ball. He has a great feel for just playing football, whether it is kickoff returns, punt team, the running game, pass coverage or blitzing.

"He just has to make a decision sometimes in a tight situation, and it seems like he almost always does the right thing. He just instinctively knows when he can get there, when he can't, when he has to play for time, when he can beat the blocker and knife through and make a play, when to use his hands, when to try to dive over a guy."

Most of that is not stuff that will show up on a computer printout.

Bruschi is to defense what quarterback Tom Brady is to offense. He can be relied on in a tough spot. Like Brady, Bruschi is a Northern California native, born in San Francisco and raised in Roseville (Placer County) before going to college at Arizona, where he played defensive end.

This is his ninth year in the NFL, all with New England, which tried him at three different linebacker positions before settling on his inside spot. Bruschi says the transition from defensive end was the hardest thing he ever did.

He is the Patriots' leading tackler and he was tied for second on the team with three interceptions during the regular season. He makes the occasional sack on a blitz, knocks down passes in coverage, and plays special teams, something a player of his experience and talent rarely bothers to do. Bruschi explains it by saying how important kicking plays can be and says he still loves to cover punts.

Teammates and opponents marvel at Bruschi's work ethic and his nonstop effort, but what sets him apart, really, is his feel for the game.

"It's not something you can practice, or it's not something that you can coach," said Mike Vrabel, another versatile New England linebacker. "You have guys that can go out there and you have guys that can't, and Tedy is certainly one that makes (plays) and makes them at important times in the game."

"You can talk about it. You can show it to the team and say, 'Hey, here is what you (want to do),' '' Belichick said. "But they are all a little bit different and happen so fast."

Belichick used the example of the kickoff return against the Colts. Bruschi wasn't expected to field a kickoff, let alone return it 15 yards.

"I don't know how many kickoff returns we have practiced this year, but that (play) probably hasn't happened in practice once all year," Belichick said. "He hopped over, got in front of the ball, made a nice play on it and got it up to, whatever, the 45-yard line or something. That is why you want him on the field. No matter what the situation is ... he is the kind of guy you always want on the field, because if something unexpected happens like that, he almost always does the right thing."

Even away from the field, Bruschi does everything at one speed. In a recent interview, he told the Boston Globe that he gave up drinking several years ago because he couldn't control himself. "I was crazy on the field, and I was crazy off of it," he said. "Everyone has their own speed. Mine was very high."

Now, Bruschi says, he's a "split personality," because he's quiet off the field. The only noise he makes is when he plays the saxophone and clarinet, which he does well enough that he has been invited twice to play in fund- raisers at the Boston Symphony Hall.

The Patriots just like the music he makes on the field.

"He just sees things and I'm not sure that he could even sit here and tell you, 'Well, this is the guy that I saw.' " Belichick said. "Maybe it's just the combination of seven or eight guys and just the way they are moving and the speed they are moving at and the tempo of the play that he just instinctively knows where he needs to fit on that play. I've had other players like that. I'll say, 'Hey, how did you know that?' 'I don't know. I just, I just kind of felt it. I just knew that is what it was.' ''

So here's something we know: The Patriots' number 54 is pretty good.

Bruschi has feel for football

Pats put on their hard hats

 AFC FINAL: In New England, no player is bigger than the team
January 23, 2005

FOXBORO, Mass. -- There's a certain way of doing things in New England, and players fall in line or they don't stay long.

Work hard. Know your responsibilities. And, most of all, no one is more important than the team, not even a cover-boy quarterback with a supermodel on his arm and matching Super Bowl MVP trophies on his nightstands.

"Any person that thinks he's above anything isn't going to fit in, and they're not going to last," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said before the team left to play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game.

"If we think there's a guy like that, we're going to let you know about it," Bruschi said. "We've had that talk with a lot of guys."

Did anyone ever have to have the talk with Tom Brady?

"No. That's just who Tom is," Bruschi said. "Tom is a guy that wants to work. Tom knows that he can't win a game all by himself. Somebody has to block, somebody has to tackle, somebody has to catch the ball that he throws. I think he knows that more than anyone."

Brady leads the Patriots against Pittsburgh this afternoon in a rematch of the 2002 AFC championship game that New England won 24-17 en route to its first NFL title. It's also a rematch of the Steelers victory on Oct. 31 that ended New England's record 21-game winning streak.

Steelers rookie Ben Roethlisberger threw for 196 yards and two TDs to keep alive a win streak of his own. He has now won 14 straight since taking over as starter.

"We most definitely have all the confidence in the world in Ben. We're 15-1 because of him," cornerback Deshea Townsend said. "He's very poised for a rookie and I'm sure he'll do fine."

The Province

Good stuff: LBs show four-titude
By Rich Thompson
Monday, January 24, 2005

 

PITTSBURGH - Patriots [stats, news] inside linebackers Tedy Bruschi [news] and Ted Johnson [news] belong to an exclusive clubhouse fraternity known as the Four Timers.
 

     The two Teds graduated from Three Timers to Four Timers by establishing a strong defensive presence in the Patriots' 41-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in last night's AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field.
 

     The Patriots will play in their fourth Super Bowl in the last nine seasons and third in the last four when they take on the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX Feb. 6 in Jacksonville, Fla. Bruschi and Johnson are prominent members of a dwindling group of Patriots that qualified for four Super Bowls.
 

     ``I think that's somewhat the core group since 1996 with myself, Ted Johnson, Ty Law [news], Adam Vinatieri [news], Willie McGinest [news] and of course Troy (Brown),'' Bruschi said. ``There is just a handful of us that have been able to hang around and make enough plays for them to keep us around.''
 

     The Steelers came into the game determined to run the ball right through the middle of the Patriots' defense. That placed the burden on Bruschi and Johnson, who effectively neutralized the Steelers' vaunted ground tandem of Jerome Bettis (64 yards on 17 carries) and Duce Staley (26 yards on 10 attempts).
 

     Bruschi credited the chemistry he and Johnson have forged over the years.
 

     ``We knew coming into this game that we were going to try and pound them and they were going to try and pound us and we just kept pounding and pounding for four quarters,'' Bruschi said. ``We just know each other so well and it's inevitable how sometimes I know what he's doing before he does it.
 

     ``I know what he's going to say before he says it, how he's going to take on certain blocks and I feed off of him. It's great the chemistry we have on the field.''
 

     That chemistry was a factor in two crucial stops in the game. The Patriots forced Bettis to fumble on a fourth-and-1 at the Pats' 39-yard line with 7:07 to play in the first. On the next play, Tom Brady [news] hit Deion Branch [news] with a 60-yard touchdown pass to make it 10-0.
 

     When the Steelers were threatening early in the fourth quarter, Johnson stuffed Bettis on a third-and-goal from the 3. That forced the Steelers to settle for a field goal that made it 31-20.
 

     ``That goal-line stand was huge,'' Johnson said. ``That would have put them one score away from tying and I thought we won that battle considering they got the ball at midfield.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Good stuff: LBs show four-titude

East's Beasts

After three consecutive defeats, Philadelphia clears the final hurdle

BY JOHN MARKON

TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

PITTSBURGH -- The Lamar Hunt Trophy, emblematic of the AFC championship, was escorted off the field last night by New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

"Check it out!" he said happily. "We're kind of into collecting these."

After a 41-27 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots have latched on to three of them in the past four years. When they line up for Super Bowl XXXIX vs. the Philadelphia Eagles in Jacksonville, New England, already a 6½-point favorite, will be seeking a third NFL title in the past four years.

"Yeah," admitted Bruschi, "we like collecting those, too."

No one in professional football had matched the Steelers in terms of collecting victories this season, but the Las Vegas odds-makers who'd established the Patriots as a three-point road favorite at Heinz Field wound up looking almost as good as yesterday's winners.

"We had everything we needed," insisted Steelers linebacker Joey Porter. "We were 16-1. We'd earned home field. We were thoroughly pre- pared . . .

"And then we go out and fall behind by 21 points [24-3] in the first half. I would not have thought that was even possible."

With the Patriots in the playoffs, much is possible. Head coach Bill Belichick (8-0) is unbeaten in postseason games since coming to New England in 2000. Tom Brady, Belichick's quarterback, has started eight playoff games and won them all.

Brady was yesterday's most valuable player, throwing for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns on a frosty, windy evening. Wide receiver Deion Branch caught one of the TD passes, a 60-yard strike in the first quarter, and added the Patriots' final score, a 23-yard run on a reverse with less than three minutes to play.

By that point, most of the record crowd of 65,242 had departed for warmer locations. For Steelers coach Bill Cowher, it was the fifth time he'd played the AFC title game at home and the fourth time he'd lost.

"We had three turnovers [actually four] and gave up some big plays on defense," Cowher said. "We did things we hadn't done all season and things you can't do if you want to win games like this."

The Patriots, as they often do, played without a turnover. In their three AFC championship games under Belichick, they've forced 14 turnovers and been guilty of only three.

Safety Eugene Wilson established a precedent by intercepting Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's first pass of the game. It led to an Adam Vinatieri field goal and reminded everyone that Roethlisberger, his 15-0 record as a starter aside, was attempting to become the first rookie QB to lead a team to the Super Bowl.

"I feel like I let a lot of people down," Roethlisberger said, "but I tip my cap to them. They're a great, big-play team."

And they can make big plays back to back. Down 3-0, Pittsburgh was driving at the New England 29 when Cowher gambled on fourth-and-1, sending 260-pound running back Jerome Bettis off left tackle.

The Patriots squashed the play for no gain. On the next snap, Brady hit Branch for a 60-yard touchdown.

"David Givens ran an 'over' route on top of Deion's post route," explained Brady. "He took a corner and a safety out of the play and left Deion one on one [with DeShea Townsend]. If David can't draw those two defenders, it's probably a pass that never gets thrown and certainly a play that doesn't get made."

The Patriots dropped another hammer on the home team just before halftime when the Steelers were on the New England 19, trying to cut into the Patriots' 17-3 lead.

Roethlisberger admitted he saw safety Rodney Harrison lurking in coverage but attempted to jam a pass in to tight end Jerame Tuman. After Harrison intercepted, all that stood between him and an 87-yard touchdown was Roethlisberger.

"If I'm the only guy back," Roethlisberger said, "our only chance was that he'd trip."

Pittsburgh's last hopes expired early in the fourth period. With New England leading 31-17, the Steelers made a quick defensive stop and used a 25-yard run by Bettis and a 25-yard pass from Roethlisberger to reach the Patriots' 4-yard line.

On third and goal from the 3, Cowher used a three-tight end, zero-wide receiver formation and gambled Bettis could bull his way in up the middle. Bettis gained barely a yard, and Cowher opted against a fourth-down gamble and in favor of a short field goal.

The Patriots used a pair of time-consuming possessions to counter the field goal and clinch with Branch's rushing TD, which was a bit of a happy accident. All the Patriots really wanted to do was kill some more clock.

"We weren't actually trying to score on the reverse," Belichick said, "but it was a game where we got some major breaks and things just went our way."

The Steelers were the fifth team to post a 15-1 regular season and became the second to be stopped short of the Super Bowl. The 1998 Minnesota Vikings were also 15-1, but lost that year's NFC championship game to Atlanta on a field goal in overtime.

"It's a empty feeling," said Bettis.

Bruschi, of course, had a full feeling, as in having his hands full of silverware.

TimesDispatch.com | East's Beasts

This week's Notes and Quotes: 01/24/05

''I know people see the Patriots in the Super Bowl now and think it's commonplace," said New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi. ''But we really cherish this. Still. It doesn't happen a lot and you realize that when it does happen, it's very, very special."

"That's what makes this one of the more gratifying games of my career," said Bruschi. "It's not often you get a second chance like this. They manhandled us, and to come back from that like this is pretty special."

 

"We have players that have the ability that when the moment presents itself, to make a big play," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said as he left the visitors locker room. "Not just knock the ball down, but pick the ball off. Not just pick the ball off, but make a touchdown by running it back."

Report Card/Kevin Mannix

LINEBACKERS – A

     Bruschi and Johnson each had eight tackles against the big backs, and Mike Vrabel [news] added six with a fumble recovery as he moved around to various positions on the line. Just to show he's human, Bruschi did take a bad angle when he missed a tackle at the line on Antwaan Randle El's 34-yard reception on a wide receiver screen.

     This was a game in which the linebackers had to take control of the line of scrimmage and prevent the Steelers Pro Bowl linemen from creating running room for the big backs. They took care of business, stuffing Bettis on a fourth-and-1 at the Pats' 39 in the first quarter and again twice from the Pats' 2-yard line in the fourth quarter. That forced the Steelers to settle for a field goal instead of getting a touchdown which would have made it 31-24 with a full quarter remaining.

On Ted Johnson:

On third down, it was Johnson who met Bettis in the hole and stuffed him for a 1-yard gain. That prompted Bill Cowher to send on his field goal unit, much to the dismay of the record crowd on hand at Heinz Field.   "That's what I'll remember about this game," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said about the goal line stand. "The Bus and Ted Johnson meeting in the hole. What a resounding hit. And maybe that got in their heads a bit."

 

It never gets old for Patriots, fans

By DAVID PEVEAR, Sun Staff

PITTSBURGH- Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi walked proudly through the tunnel leading to the visitors' locker room at Heinz Field, clutching in his battle-tested hands the Lamar Hunt Trophy, the AFC's stepping stone to the holy Lombardi Trophy.

"Want to check it out, fellas?" Bruschi said playfully to the media waiting to gain access to the dynasty's locker room. "Check it out!"

The Patriots' most emotional player then walked boisterously into the locker room.

When the doors to the Patriots' locker room swung open 15 minutes later, it was Jonathan Kraft, the owner's son, who walked out with the trophy.

Patriots players inside loudly embraced their 41-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC title game at Heinz Field, but the Lamar Hunt Trophy was now in the hands of the owner's son while the hungry eyes of Bill Belichick's team began to slowly turn toward winning a third Lombardi Trophy in four years.

Very slowly.

Tell Duval County we're coming!" said Patriots wide receiver/cornerback Troy Brown, a South Carolinian offering up a lesson in the geography of Florida, where the Patriots a week from Sunday will play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville.

No, this never gets old.

"It means nothing if you don't go out there in a couple weeks and win," said Rodney Harrison, his intensity raging until that final prize is won, and whose 87-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the first half to put New England up 24-3 proved perhaps the biggest play in yesterday's victory. "It makes no difference how impressive (the Patriots have been) if we don't finish the job at hand."

The intense cold and the physical nature of the game did seem to unleash joy greater than the Lamar Hunt Trophy normally brings out in the 53 selfless and dignified men working as one in Patriots uniforms, the likes of whom may never again be assembled amid the dollars and decadence of American professional sports.

The Patriots last year celebrated their AFC title win over the Colts in Foxboro as if they had not won anything yet. Yesterday, several Patriots were hoarse from celebrating big hits in subzero cold that led to a more pronounced celebration of the Lamar Hunt Trophy.

Patriots and Steelers were yakking at each other while smacking into each other throughout this AFC game, played hard by where the Monongahela creeps coldly by.

"When you're playing a team that's physical and a lot of big collisions happen, you sort of want to talk about it," said a smiling Bruschi, whose team backed it up and avenged a 34-20 loss in Pittsburgh on Oct. 31 that snapped their NFL-record 21-game winning streak.

Yesterday's was the Patriots' eighth straight playoff-game victory, the second-longest such streak in NFL history. Vince Lombardi's storied Green Bay Packers won nine consecutive playoff games from 1961 to 1967. Belichick equaled Lombardi for the highest playoff winning percentage in NFL history (9-1, .900) and was duly humbled at this historical association with the man for whom The Trophy is named after.

"I don't think I'm deserving of that," Belichick said. "I think that's stretching it a little bit."

His players think differently. They think highly of this man who has already put two Lombardi Trophies in their hands. They are only old enough to remember the great Lombardi as being a trophy.

"He doesn't let us get away with anything," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. "We had a bad practice Wednesday. He let us know it. You would have thought we were 0-16 the way he spoke to us.

Lowell Sun Online - Sports

Emotional elevation: Down the stretch, Pats turned it up a notch

By Hector Longo
Staff Writer

FOXBORO — Three top-flight opponents in their last four games.

Under three contrasting weather conditions.

With huge do-or-die implications.

Decimated to the tune of 84-37 by the world champion New England Patriots.

Philadelphia Eagles, welcome to our world.

Somebody flipped the switch here in the Pats locker room, turning Tedy Bruschi from a monotonous tackling Clark Kent into some form of Superman, faster than a speeding Curtis Martin, more power than a locomotive, or at least a "Bus" Jerome Bettis, and able to rip the ball cleanly out of receivers' arms with a single swipe.

Like the stomach virus that went through the team last week, Bruschi's wild demeanor has been infectious.

"There are a lot of players on this team that like football," said coach Bill Belichick yesterday, emotionally and physically spent after the Pittsburgh trip but carried from the victory by adrenaline .

"They come to practice. They come to work everyday ... This is a special group of guys. I've been on other good teams and other teams with players like that, but I think we have quite a few of them here. An awful lot of them."

Bruschi is only the point man in this gregarious gang. Again, Sunday it was his head-on collision with Bettis, and the classic trash-talk session that followed, that ignited the Pats.

New England, pummeled by the Steelers in the regular year, has sustained the emotion and played at its highest level through three immense performances now, surrounding the snoozer of a regular-season finale with the 49ers.

The Jets were 10-4 and were embarrassed at home, 23-7.

Indy came here to Gillette Stadium with one of the most prolific offenses in history and was kept out of the end zone in a 20-3 whitewash.

And Pittsburgh, riding a 15-game win streak at home with the NFL's best defense and a running game that annihilates most defenses, melted on the heated turf at Heinz Field Sunday, despite the 1-degree wind chill.

Emotion is so dangerous in the NFL. The coach knows it and admires the fact that his job has been made that much easier.

While the world now considers him among the greats, Belichick doesn't have to be Knute Rockne.

"I think that is a real credit to them that they work hard, that they are enthusiastic and that they put that much into it," said Belichick.

There are two things to keep in mind about the Patriots emotion.

First, it's genuine. This is not Baltimore's Ray Lewis, seeking every NFL Films camera possible or Oakland's Warren Sapp, begging to be, "miked up."

When Ty Warren picks up a ball carrier and throws him to the ground, like a sack of flour, stating "No more!" he means it. And Deion Branch's post-TD endzone celebrations may lack ingenuity but they ooze emotion.

Even the quieter types get into the act, these days, like rookie Vince Wilfork mocking Joey Porter's patented sweep of the leg after stifling a Duce Staley run for a loss.

The second factor is that the Patriots own a never ending spring of that excitement, which they call on anytime it's necessary. Simply put, the Pats, spent right now, will have plenty left for Philly.

"We went into the Jets game knowing if we beat the Jets we get a bye," said Belichick.

"I thought the players really stepped up and played an outstanding game there. And I thought they played good against the Colts last week. I had confidence in our team because they had played two of the best games in two of the biggest times that we needed them. I still feel that way."

As if Belichick needed any more inspiration come February 6 when the Pats face a date with the Eagles and destiny in Super Bowl XXXIX. The magnitude of the game and what it means to the team should take care of that.

Expect that flip of the switch early Super Bowl Sunday. New England's men of steel have one final job to do.

Longo

It's a fantastic fourth

Super Bowl never gets old to veterans

It hit Ted Johnson after the AFC Championship game. It hit him so hard that he turned to some of his longtime buddies on the Patriots and said, "You know something? We're going to our fourth Super Bowl."

Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi, Adam Vinatieri, Willie McGinest, and the injured Ty Law join Johnson on that special list. The NFL record is six for a player, held by Mike Lodish, who played for Buffalo and Denver. There are 12 other players who went to five Super Bowls.

"It's mind-boggling to think about that and all that's happened and all we've done here," said Johnson. "I've been in the league nine years and four of them I've gone to a Super Bowl. I can't believe how fortunate I am, and I know all of the guys who have been there are really appreciative of the chance to play in the biggest game of all.

"It never gets old. It's always exciting. It's so difficult after you leave one season to think you can make it all the way back to the Super Bowl the next year."

These holdovers from the Bill Parcells era have not known that much disappointment in their NFL careers. Even under Pete Carroll, they twice went to the playoffs. All of them have dodged bullets when they've had to renegotiate contracts or face being salary cap casualties, but all survived. You could say the four-timers are the lifeblood of the Patriots.

They are the leaders and de facto captains, the ones who are looked up to the most on the team because of their long and meritorious service. When their careers are over, they might be the most revered players in team history.

They have come back from injuries. McGinest had serious groin, abdominal, and back problems. Brown has had ankle, hamstring, and hernia injuries. Johnson twice ripped biceps. Bruschi had knee surgery in 2000.

In this age of free agency, it's remarkable that McGinest, Brown, Johnson, Bruschi, Vinatieri, and Law have stayed together under three coaches, and in the vastly different philosophies of Carroll and Parcells/Belichick.

"It will be something I can talk to my kids about," Brown said. "You think about it, but you can't spend a lot of time on it because you're in the middle of it and you're trying to get another Super Bowl win. When it's over, I'll be able to reflect on it. I know it's special, but I don't want to stop now."

These veterans are what's left of what used to be a bigger core. They have seen Drew Bledsoe, Chris Slade, Curtis Martin, Ben Coates, Bruce Armstrong, and Todd Collins depart.

They remember when Charlie Weis was a running backs coach and when Dante Scarnecchia coached special teams. They played for assistant coaches such as Al Groh, Ray Perkins, Steve Sidwell, Maurice Carthon, Ray Hamilton, and Johnny Parker. They remember when Belichick was the assistant head coach and defensive backs coach. All of those experiences have made them what they are today, and now, with teammates such as Tom Brady, Corey Dillon, Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel, and Richard Seymour, they have forged a winning identity for the Patriots.

Vinatieri, who may be the best money kicker of this generation, is one shy of tying the record for field goals attempted in the Super Bowl (six), a mark shared by Jim Turner, Roy Gerela, Rich Karlis, and Jeff Wilkins. He needs two field goals to tie Ray Wersching for the most made at five. Vinatieri is also one PAT away from tying Mike Cofer's record of nine.

Brown needs two punt returns to break the career record for the Super Bowl, which is currently six, shared by eight players.

McGinest is two sacks from having the most career sacks in the Super Bowl. The record is 4 1/2 by Charles Haley.

Brady is one MVP away from tying Joe Montana for the all-time high of three, and he would be only the third player to win back-to-back (Terry Bradshaw and Bart Starr being the others).

Johnson is right. It is mind-boggling to consider where this team and these players started, where they've been, and where they might end up

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots

 

 

Tedy Bruschi speaks with the press on a conference call.

Tedy Bruschi Conference Call Transcript
 

Q: The Eagles are going to be without Chad Lewis. How do you think that will affect their game plan, and what do you know about his replacement L.J. Smith?

TB: I don't think it should impact [how they will approach the game]. We have been a team that has had to deal with a lot of injuries also. It really hasn't affected the way we have approached games either. So, I don't think that they will change things too much. It is the Super Bowl now, and I don't think they would change things too drastically and sort of keep doing what they are doing.

Q: What do you know about L.J. Smith?

TB: He is a very capable tight end that is probably maybe a little more athletic. He has been stepping up this year in terms of the big plays that he has been making.

Q: Your team is going to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years, but there is always roster turnover. Can you explain how the team just keeps going when the parts keep changing?

TB: I think there are two main constants. The one constant is the coaches. Our coaches have remained consistent. The other constant is our core group of players who have been there through thick and thin. There is a group of us now that has been to a total of four Super Bowls. I think there are six of us that have been here since 1996 when we went to the Super Bowl and lost to Green Bay. I think with us sort of leading the way about how things are supposed to be done around here and how the Patriot attitude is supposed to be, I think we have been able to welcome guys in and show them how things are supposed to be done here.

Q: The coaching staff is going to have some changes next year. Is that something your team can handle as long as Bill Belichick is still around?

TB: That I don't know. I don't know. When it comes to it next year, I think there are going to be some decisions Bill is going to have to make. Some of our assistants are going to have to step up. How that is going to affect us, I don't know. Ask me next year during training camp or the regular season. But, right now we have our core group of coaches around. When the time comes and if the model changes, I'm sure I'll notice it. Right now I don't really concern myself with that.

Q: In your opinion, what are the NFL dynasties from the past that you think of?

TB: I think of San Francisco. I think they won the most, in terms of five Super Bowls. They lead the way in terms of the organization that they have been. Of course, [I also think of] the Steelers with [Terry] Bradshaw, when they won four Super Bowls. Those are two teams and organizations that pop into my mind right away, and also the Cowboys for what they did.

Q: What was the constant element of those teams when you look at what they achieved?

TB: I guess just consistency—consistency in terms of the way they approach the game. I can't speak of the Steelers of the 1970s. That was before my time. But, in terms of seeing things, I did watch a lot of the Cowboys games and I grew up in San Francisco, California. So, seeing their core group of players keeping their attitude consistent in terms of just trying to win football games, even through a coaching change here or there, they were able to still keep their core group of guys together and maintain that level of excellence.

Q: That sounds a lot like your team.

TB: Well, here I am. I am a member of the Patriots and I am talking about those teams. That is because it is in the past. I won't talk about that when it comes to my team. I'll let some maybe some team in the next decade talk about us, but I won't talk about that.

Q: How do you take it when people say you are the face of the Patriots franchise—a guy who is self-made, works hard, plays hard and has a positive off-the-field life?

TB: I look at it as a tremendous compliment, first and foremost. It is just sort of who I am. [It is] that attitude I have been able to portray. It is not like I got here and that is the way I learned to be. I believe I was raised this way—to just focus on things in front of you, to conduct yourself with class, dignity and integrity and when the [going gets tough] to just sort of grit your teeth and fix things. Fix things and not just run away from your problems, but fix the problems you are presented with. That is just the way I am. That is the way my mother raised me and who I am, and to have someone say that is an extreme compliment to me. To tell you the truth, it is not just the Patriots players. That is the New England state of mind, really—the blue-collar worker that just wants to go out, provide for his family, be a good father and cheer for his favorite sports team.

Q: How do you approach the Eagles with a guy like Terrell Owens who may or may not play? Do you just approach it like he will play the game and, if so, how difficult is he to stop?

TB: Well, he is the best receiver in the game. [He is] the best single, pure, true wide receiver in the game, if you ask me, with the size he has, the strength he has and his physical ability. Now, to the extent of the injury, I watch [television]. I read the newspapers. People say it is bad. People say it is bad and he might not play. But, T.O. wants to play, so [you could] possibly anticipate that he is going to play. He is the best in the business and I am sure us anticipating that he is maybe going to play will even step up our preparation even more.

Q: The AFC dominated the NFC in the regular season this year and in the past several regular seasons and they have dominated in the Super Bowl with only a couple of exceptions. Why do you think that is and do you see that going on for a while?

TB: I mean, there are a lot of good teams in the AFC, but I think we are playing the best in the NFC, to tell you the truth. I can't really tell you why. It goes in cycles or whatever, but to tell you the truth, we have the class of the NFC in front of us right now, so we are not really looking to see how the AFC East did against the NFC East or anything like that. To us, it is the best in the AFC versus the very best in the NFC. So, we have to look at it like that. We are not looking at conference domination or anything like that because this is a team, the Eagles, that has dominated their conference and there is a reason why they are the NFC champions. It is [because] they are the best.

Q: You grew up in northern California watching [Joe] Montana. Is it fair to compare [Tom] Brady to a budding Montana?

TB: Sure. Why not? Why not? The guy already has two Super Bowl MVPs behind him and he has another big stage to play on on Sunday and he is a guy who has portrayed the very best of football quarterbacking the past couple years. So, Joe Montana was the best in his day and I think we have the best quarterback today.

Q: Back to the Terrell Owens thing, are you approaching the game like he is going to be out there?

TB: I was trying to say [earlier in the call] that there are various reports on whether T.O. is going to play or not. He wants to play and I think that with us knowing that he is the best receiver in the game, why not prepare like he is going to play and it will step up our preparation even more because he is the best true receiver, I think, there is.

Q: How do you think the Patriots would do competing against the great teams of the decades, the Packers in the 60s and Steelers in the 70s, 49ers in the 80s?

TB: That is a question that only that video game Madden can solve, when you can get the Patriots of one year against the Steelers of another year. That is a video game question, man, because that is the only realistic situation that it will happen [in]. I think we are a good team, yes, and we have to play the Eagles. We have to play the Eagles and that is what we have got to worry about. To worry how we would play against those other teams is just something that we don't really want to concern ourselves with. We'll save that for the video game.

Q: You were talking before about how the team succeeds with all sorts of different roster moves and changes. Is there anyone, other than yourself, that is indispensable on this team, including coaches? How do you see that? Can you guys weather the loss of anybody on the team?

TB: I think the two strengths of our team this year, two of the main strengths that have been overlooked are our offensive and defensive lines. You see no one picking out a particular defensive lineman or an offensive lineman and I think that is an extreme compliment because they all play so well together, those five across the front line, you know, Brandon Gorin, Joe Andruzzi, Dan Koppen, Matt Light, Stephen Neal, all those guys. All those guys play great together and you really don't notice it because they are out there playing as one, and I think they have been the strength of our offense this year, to give Tom protection, to make those holes open for Corey [Dillon], and then for us to succeed as linebackers and safeties and in this defense, we have to focus. We have to have time and freedom in terms of our defensive line play. So, those guys in front of us, [Keith] Traylor, [Vince] Wilfork, Jarvis Green and Ty Warren, guys that have also been overlooked that have really given us great football this year.

Q: How has this worked in the past in terms of when you get the game plan? When you show up tomorrow morning, are the binders going to be set and you'll have your game plan, or is it just sort of just a couple of practices and then when you get down there you get the plan?

TB: In terms of before, we are going to get a little bit of it tomorrow. You don't want to get yourself all psyched up and geeked up too early, you know, because we still have to fly down to Jacksonville and we still have a whole week of preparation in front of us there. We want to get our feet wet. We want to get deep in the film study, but still we want to save the bulk of it for when we are down there in Jacksonville, but still get our feet wet tomorrow and make sure before we go down to Jacksonville we have an idea of what we are going to do.

Q: In Jacksonville you guys are staying in the middle of nowhere. Is that a good thing for your team or does that even matter?

TB: It really depends on what type of individual you are. Do you want to be in the big city where you go out and have a lot of parties to go to or not, and I think the majority of our players really don't care where we stay. We realize what we have to go down there to do and as long as there are film projectors in our hotel room, there are treatment facilities there and areas where we can get our physical conditioning and weight training done, that is all we want.

Q: When you look at Donovan McNabb, do you see a lot of comparisons between him and Tom Brady, not necessarily the physical skills but the intangibles, mental toughness, leadership, things like that?

TB: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Donovan is a guy that has been able to play with a lot of pressure. That pressure he had in the NFC Championship Game, people telling him he had to win that or the city of Philadelphia might go into shambles or something like that. They wanted that game so bad, the city of Philadelphia, and Donovan has sort of embraced all of that and accepted and acknowledged it all and still go out there and perform the way he did really speaks volumes of the quarterback and the mental stability of the strength that he has as a player.

Q: Do you like the Super Bowl week? Do you enjoy it?

TB: Oh I enjoy it very much. I enjoy it very much. It is a big celebration of America's most popular sport and just to see all the hustle and bustle down there and all of the Super Bowl logos everywhere you go and the police escorts, it is really a celebration of the year that the two conference champions had and it does get a little [overwhelming] at times, but it is because it is the biggest spectacle in sports. We are down there to play a football game but I'm glad the whole country can enjoy one big event for a couple weeks.

Q: Is it old hat for you? Ho-hum, another Super Bowl?

TB: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I hope I can talk to these younger guys and these younger guys can see how I'm approaching this and how special I feel this is, because we have some second year players on this team who have been to two Super Bowls, both their years. I hope I can make them realize that, hey, this doesn't happen every year. This is my fourth Super Bowl and I still realize that every single one is special. Every single one. You have to cherish it under its own individual entity because it is a celebration of all your hard work and efforts during the year and you don't get to get here every year. Even though our second year players have been there two out of two times, I hope they understand that this is still very, very special.

Q: The core players that have been there all along, who would those be?

TB: There are six of us that, I believe, have been here since 1996. On defense, it is myself, it is Ty Law, it is Ted Johnson, it is Willie McGinest. On offense, defense, special teams, Troy Brown and Adam Vinatieri, I believe. That is the group of six that sort of call ourselves the four-timers because we sort of have a special fraternity amongst ourselves in knowing that we have been here through various coaching staffs and we have been able to go to a Super Bowl and succeed and then reach rock bottom and then dig ourselves out.

Q: What do you remember about the 2003 game against Philly? You were coming off that terrible loss in the opener and you really righted the ship there in Week Two and had Donovan on the ropes most of that game.

TB: That was a very emotional week for the entire organization, especially me. There were a lot of off-field activities that had happened the week before. They had released Lawyer [Milloy] the week before and emotionally when we went into Buffalo, we felt like we were sort of missing a piece in Lawyer Milloy. We tried our best to go out there and win the football game, but really they really handed it to us and we lost 31-0, I believe. So, that was really a week that us as players really looked at ourselves in the mirror and told ourselves, 'What are you going to do about it? What are you going to do? Are you just going to sit there and let things go ho-hum for the rest of the year, or you can go out there and play some good football and just realize that we have 15 games left. We are only 0-1. Let's come out of Philly 1-1. That is what it is all about.' So, we all looked at ourselves in the mirror that week and we went out and put a good performance out on the field and we were able to get a victory in Philadelphia.

Q: Can you take anything out of your defensive performance there and apply it to this or is Philly a totally different team now?

TB: I think they are a totally different team now. You can look at it and you can study it. I have watched a little bit of it already, but you really want to focus on what they have done this year and how they have changed, how they are the same and we haven't gotten into game plan things right now, but we could be totally different from what we do.

Q: What makes you the player you are? What drives you?

TB: I just believe it is the motivation, right now in terms of my career and where I am, it is the motivation to make my family proud. Really, I started out early in my career, in college and even in high school, with different motivations and now I have a wife, I have three young sons. I know they watch the games and I know they are watching their daddy play and I want to go out there and make them proud and win football games for them and let my sons know that daddy is doing everything he can to make them proud of me.

Official Website of the New England Patriots

Bruschi part of "Super Six"
By Steve Krause
Thursday, January 27, 2005

New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi has a simple explanation for why his team just keeps on winning big games.
 

     "We have a core group of players who have been here through thick and thin," he says. "A lot of us have been to four Super Bowls. And the others on the team all know about how things are supposed to be done around here ... the Patriots attitude."
 

     "The other main constants are the coaches," he says. "We've had the same guys here since (Bill Belichick) came here."
 

     The "four-timers," as Bruschi refers to them, are himself, Ted Johnson, Willie McGinest, Ty Law, Adam Vinatieri and Troy Brown. All of them date back to the Bill Parcells era, and were on the team in 1996 when the Patriots lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.
 

     Even though this is Super Bowl No. 4, Bruschi, speaking during a conference call interview from Foxborough yesterday, says it never gets old.
 

     "Absolutely not," he said. "Absolutely not. I hope I can talk to these younger guys, and teach them how I approach this, and I hope I help them realize that this doesn't happen every year."
 

     "This is my fourth Super Bowl, and I still realize that every one of them is special," he said. "It's a celebration of all your hard work and effort all year. I hope these new guys still understand that this is still very, very special."
 

     It may be special, Bruschi says, but he'll leave it to future historians to judge this team's place in NFL lore.
 

     "When I think of dynasties, I think of the San Francisco 49ers, who won it five times, or the Steelers with (Terry) Bradshaw, who won it four times."
 

     "Those are two organizations that pop into my head right away," he said. "Them and the Cowboys."
 

     Bruschi said all those teams had a unifying factor in the consistency with which they went about playing and preparing.
 

     "Even though they may have had coaching changes here and there, they were able to keep their core group together," he said.
 

     Where does this team fit into the picture?
 

     "I'm talking about these teams because it's in the past," Bruschi said. "I'll let some team from the next decade talk about us, because we're not through yet."
 

     He may not want to talk about the team's place in history, but he's more than willing to talk about quarterback Tom Brady and comparisons people are making to Joe Montana.
 

     "Sure, why not?" he says when asked if Brady compares favorably with Montana. "He's already got two Super Bowl MVPs behind him, and he had a great game Sunday."
 

     He says he looks as this Patriots team as an extension of who he is.
 

     One of the things that has kept the Patriots successful over the past four years is the single-minded way they approach games. And Bruschi says the team isn't deviating from that approach. They don't care about talk that the AFC has dominated the NFC this season, and they don't put much stock in reports that Philadelphia Eagles receiver Terrell Owens might not play.
 

     "There are a lot of good teams in the AFC," Bruschi said. "I can't tell you why we won more games (than the NFC) did. To us, this game is the best of the AFC against the very best of the NFC. We can't look at conference domination. They (the Eagles) certainly dominated the NFC."
 

     As for Owens: "He's the best receiver in the game," Bruschi says. "I don't know the whole extent of his injury. I read the papers. I watch TV. I know it's bad, but we might as well prepare for the game like he's going to be playing, because maybe that'll step up our preparation even more."

The Daily Item of Lynn: More Coverage > Bruschi part of "Super Six"

Dynasty? He won't hear of it

If Tedy Bruschi's responses yesterday are any indication, forget about the Patriots including themselves in any discussion of dynasties in NFL history.

In a conference call with the media, Bruschi was asked what teams came to mind when he thought of NFL dynasties.

"I think of San Francisco," he said. "I think they won the most, in terms of five Super Bowls. They lead the way in terms of the organization that they have been. Of course, the Steelers with [Terry] Bradshaw, when they won four Super Bowls. Those are two teams and organizations that pop into my mind right away, and also the Cowboys for what they did."

Bruschi mentioned those teams' "consistency in terms of the way they approach the game. I can't speak of the Steelers of the 1970s. That was before my time. But in terms of seeing things, I did watch a lot of the Cowboys games and I grew up in San Francisco, Calif. So, seeing their core group of players keeping their attitude consistent in terms of just trying to win football games, even through a coaching change here or there, they were able to still keep their core group of guys together and maintain that level of excellence."

Which is exactly what people are now seeing from the Patriots.

"I am a member of the Patriots and I am talking about those teams. That is because it is in the past," he said. "I won't talk about that when it comes to my team. I'll let maybe some team in the next decade talk about us, but I won't talk about that."

And how would the Patriots stack up against those great teams?

"That is a question that only that video game can solve, when you can get the Patriots of one year against the Steelers of another year," said Bruschi. "I think we are a good team, yes, and we have to play the Eagles. We have to play the Eagles and that is what we have got to worry about. To worry how we would play against those other teams is just something that we don't really want to concern ourselves with. We'll save that for the video game."

Most would agree with Bruschi that a team about to play in the Super Bowl, even if it has won two in the last three years, shouldn't be talking about itself as a dynasty.

Bruschi, who grew up a 49ers fan, was also asked about the common comparison of San Francisco great Joe Montana and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

"The guy [Brady] already has two Super Bowl MVPs behind him and he has another big stage to play [Feb. 6], and he is a guy who has portrayed the very best of football quarterbacking the past couple of years," said Bruschi. "So, Joe Montana was the best in his day and I think we have the best quarterback today."

 

But there are bigger issues to ponder. Like should the Patriots plan on injured Eagles receiver Terrell Owens making it back a week from Sunday? Or how does the Eagles' offense change with tight end Chad Lewis out and L.J. Smith in?

"I don't think [the loss of Lewis] should impact [how they will approach the game]," said Bruschi. "We have been a team that has had to deal with a lot of injuries also. It really hasn't affected the way we have approached games. So, I don't think that they will change things too much. It is the Super Bowl now, and I don't think they would change things too drastically, and sort of keep doing what they are doing.

"[Smith] is a very capable tight end that is maybe a little more athletic. He has been stepping up this year in terms of the big plays."

Meanwhile, Owens is saying he will play while his orthopedist refuses to clear him medically.

"Well, he is the best receiver in the game," Bruschi said. "[He is] the best single, pure, true wide receiver in the game, if you ask me, with the size he has, the strength he has, and his physical ability. Now, to the extent of the injury, I watch [television]. I read the newspapers. People say it is bad. People say it is bad and he might not play. But T.O. wants to play, so [you could] possibly anticipate that he is going to play. He is the best in the business and I am sure us anticipating that he is maybe going to play will even step up our preparation even more."

While the Patriots had no problem stopping Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb in Week 2 of the 2003 season, Bruschi feels he compares favorably to Brady in terms of intangibles such as leadership and mental toughness.

"Donovan is a guy that has been able to play with a lot of pressure," said Bruschi. "That pressure he had in the NFC Championship game, people telling him he had to win that or the city of Philadelphia might go into shambles or something like that. They wanted that game so bad, the city of Philadelphia, and Donovan has sort of embraced all of that and accepted and acknowledged it all, and to still go out there and perform the way he did really speaks volumes of the quarterback and the mental stability he has as a player."

This will be Bruschi's fourth Super Bowl, but he says the feeling never gets old.

"I hope I can talk to these younger guys and these younger guys can see how I'm approaching this and how special I feel this is, because we have some second-year players on this team who have been to two Super Bowls," he said. "I hope I can make them realize that, hey, this doesn't happen every year. This is my fourth Super Bowl and I still realize that every single one is special. Every single one. You have to cherish it because it is a celebration of all your hard work and efforts during the year and you don't get here every year. Even though our second-year players have been there two out of two times, I hope they understand that this is still very, very special."

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Dynasty? He won't hear of it

 

Bruschi among New England’s 6-pack of ‘four-timers’




Hartford Courant


FOXBORO, Mass. – He is one of six Patriots left from the team that went to the 1997 Super Bowl. Troy Brown, Willie McGinest, Ted Johnson, Ty Law and Adam Vinatieri are the others.

“We call ourselves the four-timers,” linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Wednesday. “We have a special fraternity. We recall that first Super Bowl, then going rock-bottom (5-11 in 2000, Bill Belichick’s first season). And then we dug ourselves out.”

Have they ever.

After a three-day break following their 41-27 AFC Championship Game victory in Pittsburgh on Sunday, the Patriots return to Gillette Stadium today to start preparing for Super Bowl XXXIX against the Eagles. On Feb. 6, the Patriots will be attempting to win their third Super Bowl in four years, something only the Cowboys have done (1993, ’94, ’96).

While players rested, the Patriots coaches, their bodies older but less bruised, have been assembling the outline of their game plan.

“We’re going to get a little bit of it (Thursday),” Bruschi said. “But you don’t want to get yourself too excited and too geeked up yet. We’ve still got to go down to Jacksonville (Sunday) and then we’ve got a whole week left.”

The Patriots went to Philadelphia in Week 2 last season and beat Donovan McNabb & Co., 31-10. It was a good day for most of the Patriots, although linebacker Rosevelt Colvin broke his left hip in the first half and missed the rest of the year.

It cleansed the sour taste in the Patriots’ mouths after the Bills crushed them 31-0 at Buffalo in the season opener, five days after Belichick dumped four-time Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy when Milloy refused to take a pay cut.

That seems like a long time ago. Then, the Patriots were a team adrift, wondering which team they were more like – the one that won the 2002 Super Bowl or the defenseless bunch that finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs the next season.

Now that that question has been answered, someone asked Bruschi how his Patriots compare to other dynasties such as the Steelers of the 1970s, the 49ers of the ’80s and the Cowboys of the ’90s.

Bruschi, who grew up in northern California, talked in brief generalities about the Cowboys and 49ers. But when asked about the Steelers – who won four Super Bowls in six years – he said: “They’re before my time. You’re asking me about the Patriots. I’ll let some team in the next decade talk about us.”

For an undersized linebacker (6-foot-1, 247 pounds) who some never thought could survive a 16-game season as an NFL starter, Bruschi is truly in his glory days. Not only was Bruschi the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for forcing two Colts fumbles in the divisional playoffs, he was profiled in Sports Illustrated before that game and was on the magazine’s cover last week.

Asked about being increasingly regarded as the public face of the Patriots, Bruschi, 31, called it “a tremendous compliment. It’s not like I got here (as a third-round draft choice out of Arizona in 1996) and learned to be this (ultra-competitive) way. I’ve always been this way. … When the going gets tough, grit your teeth and don’t run away from your problems.”

Journal Gazette | 01/27/2005 | Bruschi among New England’s 6-pack of ‘four-timers’

Bruschi speaks up

BY MARK FARINELLA / SUN CHRONICLE STAFF

FOXBORO -- In Pittsburgh, Bill Cowher is calling his quarterback a liar.Tedy Bruschi, left, and Willie McGinest embrace after the Patriots won the AFC Championship last Sunday in Pittsburgh. (Staff photo by Keith Nordstrom)

In Philadelphia, Andy Reid and his team's trainer are saying that they don't care what Terrell Owens' doctor thinks about the condition of his patient.
Kind of makes you appreciate even more the smooth-sailing ship that is the New England Patriots, doesn't it?

With all the controversies popping up elsewhere, including the dispute over whether Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played Sunday night with or without two broken toes, and the will-he-or-won't-he debate over Owens' playing status for Super Bowl XXXIX, Patriots' linebacker Tedy Bruschi took center stage Wednesday via a national conference call to serve as the poster boy for clean-living football players everywhere.

Bruschi, who was the NFL defensive player of the week for the first weekend of the playoffs, seemed honestly flattered when he was asked what it was like to be ``the face of the Patriots' franchise ... a guy who is self-made, works hard, plays hard and has a positive off-the-field life.''

``I look at it as a tremendous compliment, first and foremost,'' Bruschi said. ``It's just sort of who I am and that attitude I've been able to portray. It's not like I got here and that is the way I learned to be.
 

``I believe I was raised this way,'' he said, ``to just focus on things in front of you, to conduct yourself with class, dignity and integrity, and when the going gets tough, to just sort of grit your teeth and fix things ... fix things and not just run away from your problems, but fix the problems you are presented with.''

Bruschi recently went public with his decision to stop drinking alcoholic beverages several years ago. He said he did not believe his drinking had reached the level of alcoholism, but that fears that he could travel down that path prompted a cold-turkey stop.

Bruschi said his family became the most important motivating factor in his life.
 

The Sun Chronicle Newspaper

 

SI Matchup of the Day

Tedy Bruschi

Tedy Bruschi has 16 tackles in two playoff games this year. Harry How/Getty Images

Bruschi has become the poster boy for the Patriots, because to many, he embodies what this team is about: He's not the most physically gifted linebacker, but he buys into the team concept and works as hard as any defensive player in the league. But to call Bruschi simply an effort guy isn't doing the nine-year veteran justice. He has incredible instincts and a knack for being in the middle of big plays.

Like Westbrook, Bruschi's versatility makes him invaluable. He finished second on the team in tackles, had three interceptions, 3 ½ sacks and contributed heavily on special teams. His willingness and ability to do anything are key factors in the success of coordinator Romeo Crennel's defense. He may end up spending time covering Eagles tight end L.J. Smith or he might concentrate on containing Donovan McNabb. It's certain, however, he'll run into Westbrook at some point, both on passing and running plays.

The amazing thing about New England's defense so far in the playoffs was its ability to stop Indianapolis' wide-open passing game and Pittsburgh's power running game. Bruschi's wide-ranging skills helped the Patriots equally in both cases and will be valuable against Westbrook.

SI.com - NFL - Matchup of the Day: Bruschi vs. Westbrook - Thursday January 27, 2005 3:43PM

PictureThis Patriots linebacker is no Tedy bear

Bruschi is making a name for himself

It was the defining postseason moment for the New England Patriots, the play that hammered home what we already knew about this team.

When linebacker Tedy Bruschi ripped the ball from Colts receiver Dominic Rhodes's hands after a completed pass Jan. 16 in the Divisional Playoff, the theme had been established once and for all.

Once again, the Patriots were meaner, tougher and just plain better than an AFC rival. Once again, the Patriots wanted it more. And once again, Bruschi, who at 6-foot-1, 247 pounds, is considered undersized by NFL standards, showed a game-day passion that makes his height and weight irrelevant.

Bruschi was named NFL Defensive Player of the Week after that game, finishing with eight tackles, the forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

Watch Bruschi play, and it's easy to see why he's one of the most beloved New England sports heroes of the last 20 years. Listen to his response when he's told he's considered the heart, soul and face of this defense, and the affection for him grows even sharper.

"I look at it as a tremendous compliment, first and foremost," Bruschi said this week on a conference call with reporters. "...I believe I was raised this way, to just focus on things in front of you, to conduct yourself with class, dignity and integrity, and when the going gets tough to just sort of grit your teeth and fix things..."

"That is the way my mother raised me and who I am, and to have someone say that is an extreme compliment to me."

"To tell you the truth, it is not just the Patriots players. That is the New England state of mind, really. The blue-collar worker that just wants to go out, provide for his family, be a good father and cheer for his favorite team."

His popularity among Patriots is rivaled only by quarterback Tom Brady. That says a lot, because Brady has been designated this region's golden boy, the coolest and most successful player in team history.

Bruschi sort of brings to mind Carlton Fisk, whose work ethic and no-nonsense approach endeared him to folks around here.

Like Fisk, Bruschi is a student of the game, a player with keen instincts who leads by fire and example. And like former Bears linebacker Dick Butkus, a Hall of Famer, Bruschi has a nose for the ball and an obsession for the game that never takes a siesta.

He recorded 52 career sacks at Arizona, tying the NCAA I-A record held by the late Derrick Thomas. The Patriots landed him thanks to the Detroit Lions, who swapped draft picks with New England in 1996. The Patriots chose Bruschi in the third round that year, the 86th selection overall.

He's now the lone player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for touchdowns, turning the trick in 2002-03. He's the captain, the leader, the juice that drives this defense.

He'll play in Super Bowl XXXIX Feb. 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles, his fourth Super Bowl appearance in his nine-year career.

Ask him if he's spoiled by all this success, if the fire somehow doesn't burn quite like it used to, and Bruschi's take-nothing-for-granted outlook, the one that pushes him to never take a play off, shines through.

"I hope I can talk to these younger guys," Bruschi said. "and these younger guys can see how I'm approaching this and how special I feel this is...I hope I can make them realize that, hey, this doesn't happen every year. This is my fourth Super Bowl, and I still realize that every single one is special. Every single one...Even though our second year players have been there two out of two times, I hope they understand that this is still very, very special."

The Patriots will try to win their second straight Super Bowl and third in four years. They'll try to suffocate quarterback Donovan McNabb, a strong, nimble player who's completed 64 percent of his playoff passes and thrown four touchdown passes without an interception.

And they'll try to neutralize Brian Westbrook, who's averaging 5.9 yards per carry through the playoffs and leads the Eagles with 10 receptions.

This is where Bruschi will be noticed. He'll watch Westbrook emerge from the backfield and he'll look to strip him, to hit him, to punish him.

"It is the motivation to make my family proud," Bruschi said. "Really, I started out early in my career, in college and even in high school, with different motivations and now I have a wife, I have three young sons.

"I know they watch the games and I know they are watching their daddy play and I want to go out there and make them proud and win football games for them and let my sons know daddy is doing everything he can to make them proud."

He's succeeding.

Just ask Dominic Rhodes.

Concord Monitor Online

Bruschi: He can't explain, he just knows

By ERIC McHUGH
The Patriot Ledger

Harry Carson doesn't know how Tedy Bruschi's football brain works. That's OK because Carson never really figured out how his operated either.

Some things are best left unexplained. Some things are more beautiful for not knowing.

Some linebackers can sniff out a play before it happens. Some of them simply operate on a different plane.

Just accept it. Don't try to analyze it.

Like a joke, which withers and dies when it's examined too closely, the mystery of Carson's and Bruschi's sixth sense can't be neatly unraveled.

For reasons even they don't fully understand, guys like Carson and Bruschi can cut through all the sleight of hand of tricky offensive coordinators and savvy quarterbacks and sneaky offensive linemen. Amid all the scams, all the smoke and mirrors and the dizzying tangle of bodies colliding around them, they see clearly.

This, too: They listen to that little voice in their head that says, ‘‘This is a play fake, not a handoff'' or ‘‘The tight end's coming this way; get to the spot before he does and the ball is yours.''

If that little voice is right enough times, you just start doing what it says, no questions asked.

Except, of course, by dumb sportswriters and persistent coaches who insist on knowing just how it is that you knew.

To which Harry Carson replies: ‘‘I had to trust my gut.''

Good plan. Carson's gut steered him to nine Pro Bowls and a 13-year NFL career that, by rights, should land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The shame is that he's been denied so often in the voting that now, as one of 15 finalists for the sixth straight year, he's finally said, enough is enough. Carson said he doesn't want the Hall's charity anymore and has asked that his name be removed from consideration.

Too bad, because on a New York Giants team that was often defined by Lawrence Taylor's brilliantly over-the-edge play on the outside, Carson's steadily spectacular work inside was just as vital. Bill Belichick, who spent 10 years in New York with Carson, the final six as either linebackers coach or defensive coordinator, would never dispute Carson's value, just as he would never question Bruschi's contributions to the New England Patriots.

Belichick says that Bruschi's knack for always - always - being in exactly the right place at precisely the correct time (and having no real clue as to how he wound up there) reminds him an awful lot of Carson.

On the phone from New Jersey, where he runs a sports consulting and promotions company, you could almost imagine Carson nodding in agreement.

‘‘We don't know what we saw,'' Carson said with a chuckle.

‘‘I remember being in meetings with Bill, and the play might have been a good play but he'd stop the film right in the film session and he'd say, ‘Harry, what were you watching on this play?' I'd go, ‘I don't know,' but it was a positive play.''

No doubt a familiar refrain from Patriots' meeting rooms over these past nine years.

How did Bruschi know that Drew Bledsoe was running a bootleg - of all things - in the fourth quarter in Buffalo back in October?

He just knew. So he jarred the ball loose, Richard Seymour scooped it up and rumbled 68 yards for the clinching touchdown.

How did Bruschi know where Jay Fiedler was going with the ball back in December 2003?

He just knew. So he stepped in front of the pass and waltzed five yards into the end zone. Cue Gary Glitter's ‘‘Rock and Roll Part 2'' and handfuls of snow soaring into the air from the Foxboro faithful.

How did Bruschi know how to put himself in position to make just about every single big play that has been required of him over the past two seasons?

Wait, wait, don't tell me. Let me guess …

He just knew.

‘‘When he has to make a decision sometimes in a tight situation, it seems like he almost always does the right thing,'' said Belichick, who will be expecting more of the same from Bruschi when the Patriots (16-2) meet the Philadelphia Eagles (15-3) in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville Sunday. ‘‘He just instinctively knows when he can get there, when he can't, when he has to play for time, when can beat the blocker and knife through and make a play, when to use his hands, when to try to dive over a guy. He is a great decision maker in a very short amount of time.

‘‘A couple of plays he made (in the playoff opener against the Colts) were plays a lot of guys wouldn't make, a lot of guys might not even think about making. He saw something and he did it. We could play another 10 games and he might never do it again just because that situation might not present itself for him again. Another one might, and he would instinctively know what to do in that situation.

‘‘It is not something you really can coach.''

It's not science. Not quite art. Not magic either. Maybe a little bit of all three.

‘‘As a linebacker, especially when you're playing inside, you have to see so many different things,'' Carson said. ‘‘It's amazing how the brain operates. I call it being a scanner. You have to scan the field when the offense breaks the huddle. You have to go from left to right and right to left and read your keys. The keys might be the running backs and the guard or it might be the quarterback. It could be any number of things. You have to scan and digest a lot of information in a very short period of time and come up with the best result.

‘‘As plays develop, you get a sense. You get an instinct as to what it's going to be, but that comes from good preparation, it comes from film study. It comes from being able to read and react and determine what the play is going to be and destroy it before it gets started.''

Carson's Spiderman senses started tingling as soon as the opposing offense broke the huddle. On came the scanner, searching for clues as minute as how much pressure an offensive lineman was exerting on his hand in a three-point stance. Less pressure meant he was probably getting ready to backpedal in pass protection; more pressure meant he likely was charging ahead on a run.

Bruschi's on-board computer no doubt sees the same things.

When the ball is snapped and it's go time, Bruschi is a little more daring than Carson was, flying through the air at the drop of a hat. Carson didn't get airborne nearly as much.

‘‘Nah, I had a big butt,'' he said. ‘‘My butt didn't allow me to jump around too much.''

Still, they're more alike than different.

Both were college defensive linemen - Carson at South Carolina State, Bruschi at Arizona - who switched to linebacker in the pros.

Both benefited from talented teammates, who covered for them on the rare occasions when their instincts steered them wrong.

Both also played in Belichick's defensive system, which, Carson said, frees you from thinking. In the warped world of football, thinking is bad. No one needs a Hamlet, paralyzed by indecision, playing linebacker. Better to let your football brain take the wheel and just try to keep up.

‘‘There are things that I've done on the field,'' Carson said, ‘‘and I've thought to myself, wow, how'd I do that?''

Bet Tedy Bruschi gets that a lot.

Copyright 2005 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Monday, January 31, 2005

The Patriot Ledger at SouthofBoston.com

BRUSCHI'S A PAT ANSWER

Jay Greenberg NY Post Online

February 1, 2005 -- JACKSONVILLE —

"I'm not the only one who can do it out there. And I'm not looking for individual accolades."

Instead, he looks at the pulling tackle's eyes or at the in-motion flanker's gait or into the play-action quarterback's arms for his next clue. Bill Belichick says Bruschi, like Harry Carson, is one of those guys who can't always explain it, only uncannily reads it. And only some of that can be learned.

"Since the beginning I could sort of feel things out there," Bruschi said. "I really do pride myself in knowing what the offense will do before they do it, as they do it, even after they do it. If they show it again, I want to have it right."

"I expect so much of myself. I get mad when I don't make the right call."

Just a few strokes of an airbrush, and Tedy Bruschi's profile could pass for the Patriot in the team logo, and probably should.

He is driven, proud, quick, tough, versatile, and smart as a whip he never has to crack because, just as this linebacker most desires to be like all the Pats, they all really wannabe Tedy Bruschi, their personification.

"That's a tremendous compliment, probably the biggest anyone can give me," he said yesterday. "I'm just being who I was raised to be, a good teammate, family man and father.

At the University of Arizona and under Bill Parcells, the 86th player taken in the 1996 draft was a down lineman. In retrospect, it was an awful waste of superior pass-or-run instincts. But it helped make him the player he is and the team the Patriots are.

"Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinest, Rosevelt Colvin, there are other linebackers here who were defensive ends in college," said Bruschi. "The Patriots look for guys who don't just do one thing.

"You can't and play on this team. If we have linebackers out, we have to rush the quarterback more. It's all in our repertoire."

Both starting corners have been missing since midseason, the top defensive lineman hasn't played in the playoffs, and the Pats still smashed the smashmouth Steelers and bamboozled the fleet Colts. Belichick is a smart man made smarter by a superior set of linebackers who can run the field without the chip on their shoulders falling off.

"I was kind of born that 'us against the world' way," said Bruschi, from San Francisco's other side of the tracks. "I'm not here to talk about my childhood, but let's just say that's who I am."

Meaning, Type A, with a not unsurprising and now beaten drinking problem, plus an ongoing obsession with measuring up to the teammates upon whom he relies.

"We're not into what people think," Bruschi said, never mind he said plenty to the naysayers after the Indianapolis triumph. "We're just into who we have in that locker room. Whoever is to my right or left will get the job done.

"Troy Brown is a perfect example, a marquee receiver asked to play defensive back. We do it 'cause it helps us win games."

The Pats do uncannily, with few Pro Bowlers. "Look at me, do I care about that?" asked Bruschi, looking into your eyes like a quarterback's, his own eyes gleaming like the trophies already in the team case.

"When I played in a Super Bowl as a rookie, veterans like Keith Byars, Bruce Armstrong and Ben Coates helped us realize how special it is. I go back to those guys who were only in one and didn't win it to remember that every one is special.

"You have to embrace it. It's exciting to see Corey Dillon here for the first time, like Rodney Harrison a year ago. But you are going to find the anticipation and excitement right here with me more than anywhere.

"Because it's my fourth time doesn't mean I'm used to it. My dream was fulfilled and I want it to happen again."

New York Post Online Edition: sports

Bruschi has formula for success

by Andy Hart

01/31/05

For almost a decade Tedy Bruschi has been making plays for the New England defense. And all that he’s learned over that time has helped to make him a better player each and every day.

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Anyone who has watched Patriots games over the last few seasons knows that Tedy Bruschi seems to always be in the right place at the right time. Week in and week out the Patriots inside linebacker, and one of the teams most active players on Bill Belichick’s defense, just gets the job done.

Tedy Bruschi at the Prime Osborne Convention CenterBut while he makes it look easy on Sundays, those productive results don’t tell the whole story. The ninth year leader and veteran of three previous Super Bowls puts a lot of hard work, preparation and considerable thought into what becomes on-field success.

“I think with me being in my ninth year I have sort of put together a formula from Monday to Sunday where I feel I am most prepared on Sunday,” Bruschi said Monday in a media session at the Prime F. Osborn Convention Center. “It’s a combination in terms of if I should be physically ready during the week and mentally ready later in the week, and putting it all together on Sunday so you can put yourself in good situations, and when the moment presents itself, having the ability to make the play.”

It certainly has worked. Bruschi finished the 2004 season ranked second on the New England defense with 128 tackles, adding 3.5 sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles. In two postseason games he’s added another 16 tackles, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

“Bruschi is a fun player to coach,” Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said. “He’s got great versatility. He has a very high level of energy and enthusiasm that he brings to the team. He is a smart player, who just instinctively seems to do everything right in the right situation.

“He is just a very instinctive football player. You can't go over every single thing that happens, so when something comes up he almost always does the right thing. He just knows how to play. He knows when to play with power. He knows when to try to slip people in the pass rush. He knows when to try to tackle a guy low, when to go for the big hit, when to make the play against the Colts when he stripped the guy on the screen pass. He just has a great sense of how to play football. That goes all way back to his college days at Arizona, where he set all the NCAA and Pac-10 records as a pass rusher. You look at him and you can't even picture him playing defensive tackle and he was one of the best in the country. Along with his skill, which is quickness and leverage, he is a very instinctive player. He just knows how to play."

In knowing how to play Bruschi has developed his “formula” over his time in New England. Adjusting from college defensive linemen, to the pros, to outside linebacker and now finally a home in the middle of the New England 3-4 defensive, the veteran has perfected his personal preparations.

Tedy Bruschi holds the trophy after their win over the Steelers for the AFC Title - 2004“Early on in the week I try to make it as physical as I can for myself in the weight room and padded practices and extra work in the training room to get rid of the aches and pains early in the week,” Bruschi said. “As I’m doing that, I’m doing film study. As the week progresses you sort of trail off on the physical aspect of it, we go out in shells and don’t hit on Fridays, and sort of lighten up on the workouts a little bit to take care of your body. There are also other things you can do like acupuncture, a massage, things like that to get yourself ready, and the treatment room is good also. It’s a combination of those things and then Saturday is a day you enjoy with your family, because you’ve done all the preparation and you want to get your mind right because you don’t want to get too fired up for the game on Sunday, because then when Sunday comes you have to put it all together.”

Put it together he has. That has led to plenty of production and success, and even the occasional media reference as the epitome of the modern day Patriots player.

“I’ve been asked about that in the last few days, a few times and I will respond to it in this way -- that’s a tremendous compliment,” Bruschi said. “It’s probably the biggest compliment that anyone can give me because I’m just really being who I am, and who I was raised to be. I’m just being unselfish and trying to be a team player. Not only a team player but a good father, a good family man, a brother, and that is just who I am out there with this team also. I’m just trying to make sure that I know that I am not the only one that can do it out there, and that I need help from my friends, and that is just who I am. I’m not looking for the spotlight or individual accolades. I’m just worrying about how to win a football game. That’s what I’m focusing on, just being unselfish … I appreciate the compliment every time I hear it and it really doesn’t get old. It is really nice to hear.”

But for all his production and the key role he plays on one of the best defenses in football, Bruschi has yet to earn national respect in terms of a trip to the Pro Bowl. Not surprisingly, that isn’t something this true Patriots team player is worrying about.

Look at me,” Bruschi said with a smile. “Do I look like I care?”

Sitting at a podium answering questions about his fourth Super Bowl as a leader of a team being touted as a possible dynasty he sure doesn’t. Especially when in the back of his mind he knows he already has the formula for success.

Official Website of the New England Patriots

Super Bowl: Bruschi is a New England patriarch

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

BY DAVE HUTCHINSON

Star-Ledger Staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick says inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi has a sixth sense about football that defies explanation. He makes remarkably heady plays on the fly, and then can't explain why.

Belichick says Bruschi reminds him of another pretty good linebacker he once coached, former Giants great Harry Carson.

Bruschi, like Carson, is the trigger man in Belichick's ever-changing, multidimensional defense, a unit that has shut down some of the most prolific offenses in the NFL this season, including the pass-happy Colts and the smash-mouth Steelers in the postseason. In many ways, as Bruschi goes, so goes the Patriots defense.

"It (Bruschi's play) has been huge," Belichick said yesterday during his media briefing. "He's a fun player to coach. He has great versatility. He has a very high level of energy and enthusiasm that he brings to the field, brings to the team, a smart player that just instinctively seems to do everything right in the right situation.

"He worked in a lot of situations defensively from sub defense to goal-line to all the things in between. It seems no matter where you put him, when something comes up, you might be standing there saying, 'I've never really been over this with Tedy, I hope he does ...' He almost always does the right thing."

Bruschi, a ninth-year pro, epitomizes what the Patriots are all about. New England drafted him in the third round as an undersized defensive end out of Arizona -- where he tied the late Derrick Thomas' NCAA Division 1-A record for sacks with 52 -- and immediately converted him to an outside linebacker. Later, he moved inside. He calls the move to linebacker the toughest thing he has ever had to do.

Through it all, Bruschi, who helped start the trend of selecting undersized college linemen and switching them to linebacker in the pros, has been the consummate team player, never complaining and always playing hard, even on special teams. He, as much as Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, is the face of the Patriots.

"It's a tremendous compliment," Bruschi said of being synonymous with the Patriots. "Probably the biggest compliment somebody can give me because I'm just really being who I am, who I was raised to be. Being unselfish, being a team player, a good family man, a brother and a father. That's just who I am.

"I'm not looking for the spotlight or individual accolades. I'm just worried about how to win a football game, that's all I'm focused on."

Bruschi, 31, will be focused on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb in Super Bowl XXXIX on Sunday at Alltel Stadium. Stopping the elusive and strong-armed McNabb is job one for the Patriots, whether wideout Terrell Owens (leg/ankle) plays or not.

"If you let him (McNabb) loose out there, he's really going to burn you," Bruschi said.

The same can be said about Bruschi.

Though repeatedly overlooked for Pro Bowl honors, Bruschi is the playmaker of the Patriots defense. He's the first player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for touchdowns, which he did in the 2002-2003 seasons. Since the 2001 season, he leads the Patriots in tackles with 403.

This season, Bruschi finished second on the team in tackles (128), had 3.5 sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles, two recovered for touchdowns. The Patriots' 36 takeaways tied for third in the NFL.

In the postseason, Bruschi has 16 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

"Tedy is the focal point for us," outside linebacker Mike Vrabel said. "He's our defensive captain. He calls the signals and he makes a lot of huge plays. Every week, it's a pick, it's a fumble. He's going to do something. You just don't know what it's going to be."

A starter since 1999, Bruschi considers himself a Patriot for life. At the start of the season, he signed an under-market-value four-year, $8.1 million contract extension just so he could remain with the team. He represented himself.

"I'm telling you right now, I won't play anywhere else," he said.

Bruschi, who is playing in his fourth Super Bowl, somehow finds time to relax. He has a wife and two sons and he plays the soprano saxophone and the clarinet when he gets a moment to himself. He began playing as a youth and has played at the Boston Symphony Hall in a fund-raiser for the Longy School of Music, a conservatory and community school located near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass.

As for his instincts, Bruschi says it all comes naturally. He has been playing that way since he started playing football as a teenager.

"I pride myself on knowing what the offense is going to do before they do it, as they do it, and even after they do it," Bruschi said. "Ever since the beginning you sort of feel things."

Super Bowl: Bruschi is a New England patriarch

D' puts faith in coordinator
By Rich Thompson
Monday, January 31, 2005

JJACKSONVILLE - Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi values his role as Romeo Crennel's emissary.
 

     It's the function Bruschi will miss most after Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, which will be Crennel's final moment as the Patriots' defensive coordinator. Crennel is expected to assume the head coaching duties of the Cleveland Browns after the Patriots play in their third Super Bowl in four years.
 

     ``I've been there, I've been on the sideline in a timeout and I've talked to RAC about things and Bill (Belichick) will be right there,'' said Bruschi, who will play in his fourth Super Bowl. ``The confidence I have especially in RAC that he's going to make the right adjustment, he's going to make the right call out there in a certain situation. Then I go running out to the huddle and say, `Alright guys, this is what we are going to do.' Everybody knows it's the right thing to do.''
 

     If the Pats defense was a currency, its motto would be ``In Romeo We Trust.''
 

     ``I wouldn't say blind faith, because if he were to say something crazy, I'd sort of ask him about it,'' Bruschi said. ``But it's few and far between that they give us something that we think is not going to work.''
 

     Crennel began his NFL career as an assistant to Bill Parcells for nearly a decade with the New York Giants. He came to New England with Parcells and spent three seasons (1993-96) as the defensive line coach. He served in the same capacity under Parcells with the New York Jets (1997-99) before spending the 2000 season as the Browns' defensive coordinator under Chris Palmer.
 

     When Belichick turned down the head coaching job with the Jets and was hired by the Pats, Crennel left Cleveland to serve as the Pats' defensive coordinator. Patriots defensive end/linebacker Willie McGinest, who has made two Pro Bowls in his 11 years in New England, is one of many Patriots whose careers have blossomed under Crennel's guidance.
 

     ``He's a versatile `D' coordinator and he puts us in position to do a lot of good things with his play calling,'' McGinest said. ``He's been here since I've been here, but he left for a couple of years and came back.
 

     ``He's a talented guy and he's helped me mature and develop throughout my career in the years that he's been here. He makes it easy for us as players, he puts us in the right position. He's flexible and he can kind of work on the move.
 

     ``He sees things, he sees a lot of things and he has a lot of insight. He knows exactly what he's doing and he's able to dissect and break down offenses week in and week out.''
 

     Crennel's mastermind for schemes and details has transformed rookies into veterans without the usual growing pains. Second-year cornerback Asante Samuel's rapid ascent up the depth chart was a result of injuries to Ty Law and Tyrone Poole. But Samuel's ability to maintain his position as the Patriots' primary cover corner has been facilitated by the help he gets from Crennel and defensive backs coach Eric Mangini, who is rumored to be the Pats' new defensive coordinator.
 

     ``Romeo and Eric are great teachers and motivators,'' Samuel said. ``They put me in position to do well and make plays, and it's up to me to take advantage of that.''

MetroWest Daily News - Sports Coverage

 

 

This week's Notes and Quotes: 01/31/05

 

Prisco's Points:  3. There are some who think linebacker Tedy Bruschi should be in the Pro Bowl. But he summed up the Patriots attitude best when he was asked about it Monday. "Look at me," Bruschi said. "Do I look like care?" That's the Patriots' way: It's about the team.

 

 

Patriots Defense: Still Craving Respect

By Tony Moss, NFL Editor

 

Inside Linebackers: Tedy Bruschi (122 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3 INT) has been at the heart of the Patriots' run-stopping efforts all year, and ranks second on the team with 12 playoff tackles thus far. Bruschi will be playing in his fourth Super Bowl with the Patriots, and will be making his second start. Ted Johnson (77 tackles), who started in Super Bowl XXXI and was a backup last season, will begin the game alongside Bruschi. Roman Phifer (40 tackles) was a starter in last year's Super Bowl win over Carolina, and will be the top reserve to Bruschi and Johnson this time around.

 

Belichick's assessment of the play of inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi?

"It has been huge. Bruschi is a fun player to coach," Belichick said. "He's got great versatility. He has a very high level of energy and enthusiasm that he brings to the team. He is a smart player, who just instinctively seems to do everything right in the right situation. We had a play two weeks ago against Indianapolis where the ball was squib-kicked and he made a good play on the ball and got it past the 40-yard line. He is on the punt team. He is a guy you want on your special teams. He's involved in a lot of situations defensively from sub-defense to goal-line and all the things in between. He is just a very instinctive football player. You can't go over every single thing that happens, so when something comes up he almost always does the right thing. He just knows how to play. He knows when to play with power. He knows when to try to slip people in the pass rush. He knows when to try to tackle a guy low, when to go for the big hit, when to make the play against the Colts when he stripped the guy on the screen pass. He just has a great sense of how to play football. That goes all the way back to his college days at Arizona, where he set all the NCAA and Pac-10 records as a pass rusher. You look at him and you can't even picture him playing defensive tackle and he was one of the best in the country. Along with his skill, which is quickness and leverage, he is a very instinctive player. He just knows how to play."

Prisco's diary

A year ago New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi got himself in trouble with the spelling of Jake Delhomme's last name, but he's older and, yes, wiser now.

Asked to spell dynasty, Bruschi didn't bite.

"I told myself if anyone asked me to spell anything, I wasn't going to do it," said Bruschi, "even it if was cat."

When the questioner persisted, Bruschi told him he wasn't interested in this year's spelling bee. "Just leave me alone," he said

 

Media Day:

A few players clearly enjoy the banter. Others seemed to put up with it.

"I don't particularly enjoy it, but it's not a pain either," New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi said of the extra media attention. "I just realize it's part of the experience. You guys are doing a job also. Let's work together."

And while there were obviously plenty of serious questions being thrown around Tuesday, Media Day at the Super Bowl has become an event unto itself for the sheer spectacle of it. You never know what will happen next.

Like Bruschi getting asked if he could be any super hero, what kind of super hero would he be?

"I would be plastic man," the Patriots linebacker replied. "I would be plastic man because all my buddies joke around on how I can get bent and contorted and I'm still able to get up and get off the field. I have actually been called that in the locker room."

WOOOHOOO!!!!!

Patriots LB Bruschi added to Pro Bowl squad

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi on Tuesday was added to the Pro Bowl roster for the first time, replacing injured Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis.

Bruschi is the fifth Patriots player on the AFC roster, joining Tom Brady, Larry Izzo, Richard Seymour and Adam Vinatieri for the Feb. 13 game in Hawaii.

Bruschi, 31, is a nine-year veteran who was selected as the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week three times, including the first-round playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts. A second team Associated Press All-Pro selection, he ranked second on the team with 128 tackles and tied for second with three interceptions.

Two of the Patriots' four defensive touchdowns resulted from his fumbles

With Pats' Bruschi, it's all team, all the time




INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The strength of the New England Patriots lies in those three words: New England Patriots. They are every inch a team. Individuals need not apply.

 

No Patriot exemplifies this spirit more than veteran linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

With two Super Bowl rings in his safe deposit box, he could have left New England for free-agent riches after last season.

 

But he stayed with the Patriots, negotiating his own contract, to boot.

 

Now, Bruschi is preparing for his fourth Super Bowl in nine seasons as a Patriot.

 

``The Super Bowl is not the reason I stayed here,'' Bruschi said today. ``My teammates and the New England Patriots are the reason I stayed. I started with this team, and I want to finish with this team. I really wanted to be part of something for my whole career.''

 

Bruschi, 31, was a defensive end at the University of Arizona, registering 52 sacks in his career. After being drafted in the third round of the 1996 draft, he was moved to linebacker. Over time, he has become one of the best in the game, a hard hitter with a knack for making big plays in big games.

 

Even the Eagles have noticed that.

 

``He always shows up for big games,'' Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. ``You always want a guy who shows up for big games.''

What sets Bruschi apart from other great ones is his intangibles -- his passion for the game, his intensity, his energy, his will to win.

 

Many players talk about having those qualities. Bruschi shows them every time he steps on the field.

 

``I would say he's the heart and soul of this team,'' said long snapper Lonie Paxton, who has been part of two Super Bowl winning Patriots teams. ``His intensity. His fire. He plays that way every game, every play. He has it in every meeting. That's what guys love about him.''

 

``Tedy is full-tilt, full-time,'' added New England center Dan Koppen.

 

Some of Bruschi's teammates have called him ``Plastic Man,'' for his willingness to bend and contort his body.

 

``He's a special guy,'' Koppen said. ``He's out there every day working hard, trying to get better. He has a great attitude. He's great in the locker room. There's nothing he's not willing to do to win.''

 

Where does this passion come from?

 

``I don't know how you develop it,'' Bruschi said ``I've just played that way from the first time I ever put a helmet on. I play with emotion.

 

``That's the only way to play as far as I'm concerned. You have to play that way. Sometimes a half-yard can win or lose you a game.''

 

In addition to passion and fire, Bruschi gets high marks for his football instincts. They helped him make the transition from defensive line in college to linebacker in the pros.

 

``I'm not the biggest, strongest or fastest guy,'' Bruschi said. ``I have to anticipate things. Instincts are my greatest asset.''

 

Head coach Bill Belichick agrees.

 

``He's a smart player who instinctively seems to do everything right in the right situation,'' Belichick said. ``We put him on the punt team. He's a guy you want on special teams. You can't go over every situation, but he's so instinctive that when something happens he almost always does the right thing.''

 

Bruschi doesn't mind helping out on special teams. He did it in college, too.

 

``I was a fifth-year senior and I had gotten some accolades and they still had me on punt teams,'' he said. ``The message was: No matter who you are, we need you to help the team.''

 

With Bruschi, it's all team, all the time.

 

``I was raised to worry about winning, not personal accolades,'' he said. ``Everything is for the common good of the team.''

 

``That's what makes Tedy a winner,'' defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said. ``He knows what it takes to win, from the classroom to the field, he gives himself every chance to be successful.''

 

Even though he's a veteran of three Super Bowls, Bruschi has learned to cherish every one. It never gets old.

 

``I live for the moment,'' he said. ``This is my fourth time around and I still get excited. When I go to bed Saturday night I'll do my best to go to sleep, but I know it will be hard.'

Philly.com | 02/01/2005 | With Pats' Bruschi, it's all team, all the time

4 Patriots, 4 Roles, Only 1 Goal

Veteran Linebackers Typify Reigning Champions' Team-First Approach

By Leonard Shapiro

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 2, 2005; Page D06

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Feb. 1 -- When Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb looks across the line Sunday afternoon at the New England defense, much of his attention will focus on the Patriots' four starting linebackers, a versatile unit of football-smart, big-game savvy veterans who represent the team-first spirit of the defending Super Bowl champions.

Asked earlier this week what concerned him the most about the Patriots' defense going into Super Bowl XXXIX, McNabb said: "Just how they play together and their chemistry out there. Those guys play so well together, and you can see the flow. They have each other's back. One guy might be out of position, but he has the confidence that the other guy can at least get back in position or help him out to make a play. They just seem to step up when the time is there to step up."

 

The linebackers -- Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson on the inside and Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel on the outside -- have played on the Patriots' past four Super Bowl teams. None was voted by players, coaches and fans to go to the Pro Bowl this year, but teammates and New England coaches know that without them, the Patriots would not be playing for their third Super Bowl title in four years.

Bruschi, a defensive lineman at Arizona, has become the embodiment of the Patriots' philosophy as a player who doesn't have an agent and renegotiated his contract extension in the offseason -- including a $3.5 million signing bonus and salaries totaling $3.9 million through the 2007 season. He almost certainly spurned a big free agent payday to stay with the team that first drafted him in the third round in 1996 when Coach Bill Belichick was the team's defensive coordinator.

"I'm not looking for any spotlight or any individual accolades," Bruschi said. "I'm just worrying about how to win a football game.

"If I wasn't the guy I was, I could easily be somewhere else. But I just said no because I don't want to play anywhere else. To me, [being in the Super Bowl] is what you want to do, this is what you want to be a part of, being here in this game and playing for another championship."

Belichick recently recalled that the Patriots' coaching staff at the time wasn't exactly sure how it would use Bruschi once New England selected him in the draft.

"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'll figure out something,' " Belichick said. "He's the type of guy you want in every situation. He's just a football player."

Johnson arrived in New England a year before Bruschi in the second round from Colorado. Injuries in recent years have curtailed his playing time, but he started 15 games this past regular season and finished third on the team in total tackles. Probably the best run-stopper among the linebackers, he had eight tackles in the Patriots' 41-27 victory over the Steelers in the AFC title game. He's also a firm believer in Belichick's team concept.

"A lot of our success is based on continuity," he said. "We all possess vastly different skills, and we all realize that and we accept our role. I can't do what Tedy does, or what Willie does, but they can't do some of the things I can do. It's just a unique group of talented players with a high level of character."

McGinest was the most heralded of the Patriots' current linebackers coming out of college, the fourth overall player taken from the Southern Cal in 1994. A defensive end for the Trojans, he's developed a well-earned reputation for making big plays in recent years, often in the biggest games. In a season-opening victory over the Indianapolis Colts, it was McGinest who helped seal the victory with a 12-yard sack of Peyton Manning, forcing a 48-yard field goal miss by Mike Vanderjagt.

"I consider myself a big-time player," McGinest said. "I don't do a lot of talking about it. We have a lot of big-time players on this team. If you consider yourself a player who can make an impact, then you have to make the big plays in the big games when it counts and when people need you. When it's either win or go home, the game on the line, if you can't depend on certain guys, then it's really no use."

Vrabel also has made a huge impact in New England as the only starting linebacker not originally drafted by the Patriots. He started his career in Pittsburgh, had some difficulty adjusting to the Steelers' system, then departed via free agency after the 2000 season. He signed with the Patriots and is at his best covering receivers out of the backfield or rushing the passer. He's also been used as a goal line tight end, catching two touchdowns this season, with a touchdown reception last year against Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

He's proud of his versatility and extremely proud to have finished his college degree in biochemistry at Ohio State this past offseason.

"I was in the classroom, in there with a bunch of nursing students," he said. "It was like 12 girls and me, which wasn't bad. I didn't have to take a whole lot of notes. The teacher kind of figured it out. I walked in, and it was kind of like, 'Why are you taking this class?' and it was like, 'Well, it's the last one I need to graduate.' It was cool. They watch [the games], and I get letters from everybody from the class, so it was cool."

4 Patriots, 4 Roles, Only 1 Goal (washingtonpost.com)

Patriots' Bruschi a paragon for versatility




New York Daily News

The New England Patriots think of themselves as a team, but if there is one individual who personifies that team, it is middle linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

Bruschi never has been to a Pro Bowl in nine seasons in New England, but this is his fourth Super Bowl and third season as defensive captain.

He is one of those many Patriots who does everything and does everything well. And he is one subject that Bill Belichick has no problem talking about.

"It's huge," he said of Bruschi's presence in the middle of the defense. "Bruschi is a fun player to coach. He's got great versatility, a very high level of energy and enthusiasm that he brings to the team. He's a smart player. He instinctively seems to do everything right in the right situation.

"He's a guy you want on your special teams and he's involved in a lot of situations defensively from sub defense to goal line and all the things in between."

Bruschi never comes up in a discussion of great middle linebackers. He's no Ray Lewis. But Bruschi fits Belichick's blueprint for versatility. The coach recalled times when Bruschi was put in unfamiliar situations.

"You can't go over everything that happens. You might be standing there, saying, `We've never gone over this with Tedy.' Well, he almost always does the right thing. He just knows how to play. He knows how to play with power, he knows when to try to squish people in the pass rush, he knows when to tackle a guy low and when to try to go for the big hit. He just has a great sense of how to play football."

"Obviously, Tedy is that focus point for us," LB Mike Vrabel said. "He's the defensive captain, he calls the signals and makes lot of huge plays. Every week, it's a pick, a fumble . . . he's going to do something. You just don't know what play it's going to be."

Bruschi is not one of the four Patriots heading on to the Pro Bowl after Sunday (two are special teamers), along with 10 Eagles. But when asked if he cared yesterday, he said, "Look at me. Do I look like I care?

"Our identity," he said, "is the word team."

But when Bruschi was told he is the personification of that team, he blushed.

"I think that's the highest compliment you can give me," he said. "Because I'm just being who I am and who I was raised to be, a team player. I'm not looking for the spotlight, just looking for how to win.

"We sort of look for guys who can do more than just one thing. Mike Vrabel was a defensive end in college, so was Willie McGinest. To play on this team, you've got to be multi-dimensional because when we're playing out there on Sunday, everything is in our repertoire."

Bruschi was an undersized defensive tackle at Arizona, where he tied Derrick Thomas' career sack record with 52. He was a two-time finalist for the Lombardi Award.

"You look at him and you can't even picture him as a defensive tackle, yet he was one of the best in the country," Belichick said.

But after starting his career on the line (he picked up two sacks in Super Bowl XXXI) he worked his way into a part-time linebacker spot the next season. By the end of `98, he was a fixture. Now, he's a symbol.

KRT Wire | 02/02/2005 | Patriots' Bruschi a paragon for versatility

Serving Bruschi's on the Beach in Hawaii

By Jon Scott Patriots Insider
Date: Feb 2, 2005

New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi was finally named to the Pro Bowl for his first career trip to the all-pro game. Bruschi, had deflected questions all week about the Patriots players not getting enough credit. He is just the fifth Patriot to go to the Probowl this year. The Philadelphia Eagles have ten players going.

It seems now that Bruschi's teammates will get a little satisfaction that one of their best players is getting his just reward.

Patriots Report: Bruschi Makes the Pro Bowl, Finally
by Jon Scott, Patriots Insider

New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi was invited to go to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. Bruschi, a nine-year veteran, has been a staple of the Patriots unheralded linebacker group since he joined the team in 96. A unit which has been overshadowed by louder, more animated players in the league. Bruschi will take the place of injured Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

Why Bruschi? It's simple, he's the best linebacker in the league who was next in line for the invitation. Just ask head coach Bill Belichick about the type of impact Bruschi has on the game. "It's huge. Bruschi is a fun player to coach. He's got great versatility, a very high level of energy and enthusiasm that he brings to the team. He's a smart player. He instinctively seems to do everything right in the right situation.

"He's a guy you want on your special teams and he's involved in a lot of situations defensively from sub defense to goal line and all the things in between."

Bruschi becomes the fifth Patriots player to be invited to Hawaii, joining Tom Brady, Larry Izzo, Richard Seymour and Adam Vinatieri for Pro Bowl honors. Izzo, also a linebacker, was selected for his abilities as a special teams ace.

Fellow teammates adore what Bruschi brings to the team as a leader and as the defensive captain.

"Obviously, Tedy is that focus point for us," linebacker Mike Vrabel said. "He's the defensive captain, he calls the signals and makes lot of huge plays. Every week, it's a pick, a fumble . . . he's going to do something. You just don't know what play it's going to be."

Patriots veteran safety Rodney Harrision thinks Bruschi belongs in the same breath as other teams Superstars. "Every one of us that lines up on the field is a superstar. He said. "You look at guys like Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi, who also dominate there positions. There are guys that stand out because they master their positions."

Obviously Bruschi has become a major factor in the Patriots defense, but what makes him tick? Bruschi had a chance to leave for greener pastures during contract negotiations, but he opted instead to stay with this team. When asked why he would make such a choice Bruschi replied:

"I was really trying to show people that there are players out there who don't care about certain things I care more about being with this team than going out and being a free agent and trying to (make more money). I wanted to let fans know that when I was a kid growing up, it really bothered me when I saw players going from team to team. I wanted to be a guy that maybe stuck with a team for an entire career."

It looks like Bruschi is finally getting his just rewards. After nine seasons with the same team, the former 3rd round draft pick out of Arizona will have more than just another Superbowl ring to show off if they Patriots win this weekend, he'll have his tickets to Hawaii as well.

Notable Bruschi moments this season:

Week 1: Intercepted Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning to snuff out a scoring drive at the Patriots 1 yard line in the first quarter of a 27-24 Patriots win.

Week 4: Sacked and forced a fumble by Buffalo Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe, resulting in a Richard Seymour recovery and romp to the end-zone to end a Bills comeback threat and effectively seal the victory.

Week 10: Intercepted Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe in Patriots territory returning the ball to the Bills 29. The return set up a score 4 plays later from Brady to Fauria, putting the Patriots up 20-0 in the second quarter and blowing the game wide open.

Week 11: Kansas City Chiefs 3rd and 1 on the New England 4 yard line, were driving for the tying score down 10-17 in the second quarter. Bruschi fills the hole stuffing Chiefs running back D Blaylock for a 1 yard loss forcing the Chiefs to settle for a field goal. The Chiefs were never in a position to tie or win the game again after that drive.

Week 12: Fourth period, 2nd and 10 Baltimore Ravens ball on their own 20, down 17-6. Bruschi beats his man to sack Boller at the 8, forcing a fumble. Bruschi tries for the recovery at the 2 and fellow Patriot defensive lineman Jarvis Green recovers the ball in the endzone, building the Patriots lead 24-3 with about 14 minutes left.

Week 14: Against the Cincinnati Bengals, Bruschi sees extensive playing time on the special teams unit. He ended the day by leading the team with 10 tackles and 4 assists. It was Bruschi's key stop of Bengals Fullback Jeremi Johnson on a 3rd and 1 at the New England 40, which ended up preventing the Bengals from tying the game at 7 in the first period. The teams alternated scores from that point on with the Patriots holding on to the victory 35-28 at the final buzzer.

Week 16: First period, New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington orchestrates a drive to midfield, and fired a pass downfield for Santana Moss. Bruschi stepped up to snag the interception and rumbled 36 yards back into Jets territory. Bruschi's play set the tone for the Patriots defense which appeared to be focused on stopping the Jets who were trying to throw the ball downfield against the Patriots linebackers.

Week 17: Bruschi leads the team in tackles with 9 solo and 6 assists. The Patriots had their scoring first streak stopped, and looked to be losing focus in this game. Bruschi's hard hitting and leadership helped the defense to regroup, stiffen up, and slow down the momentum San Francisco has established to take the early lead.

Division Playoffs: Indianapolis Colts behind 0-6 with just over 3 minutes in the 2nd quarter were moving into scoring range at the Patriots 29-yard line. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning throws to Dominic Rhodes who gets stood up 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage, but instead of tackling Rhodes, Bruschi rips the ball out of Rhodes arms for the tackle, forced fumble and fumble recovery. The teams went to the half, Patriots leading 6-3.

Same game, third quarter kickoff, Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt kicks the ball short to the up man, Bruschi. He grabs the ball and rumbles ahead for 15 yards to about midfield. Bruschi ended the day tied for second in team tackles at 8, with 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries.

AFC Championship: First quarter, 3rd and 5, Pittsburgh Steelers ball at the Patriots 43 with the Patriots leading 3-0. Running back Verron Hayes slants off tackle close to the first down, Ty Warren hits him low and Bruschi wraps him up, pushing Haynes back preventing the first down. The next play the Steelers go for it on 4th and inches, Jerome Bettis fumbles, and the Patriots recover. The Patriots went on to take advantage of their success stopping the run with their linebackers, and secured the victory to advance to the Superbowl.

PatriotsInsider.com: Serving Bruschi's on the Beach in Hawaii

Blue-collar work ethic has paid off for Bruschi
Patriots

By Vito Stellino
Morris News Service


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - To understand what makes the New England Patriots tick, just take a look at linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

He fits the Patriots' profile. He's not the biggest or the fastest player.

He doesn't go to Pro Bowls.

But he knows how to play football. That might seem obvious because he's a football player, but sometimes there's a difference between an athlete and a football player.

Football players who aren't great athletes sometimes get overlooked by the scouts, who like to play it safe and rate players by the 40-yard dash time or their measurements.

That is why the 6-foot-1, 247-pound Bruschi lasted until the third round in the 1996 draft, even though he tied Derrick Thomas' all-time NCAA Division 1-A record with 52 career quarterback sacks.

Because he obviously wasn't going to be an NFL defensive lineman and the scouts weren't sure he'd make the transition to linebacker, his stock dropped in the draft.

As it turns out, he does the same thing for the Patriots that he did in college. He makes plays. He has a natural instinct to play the game. He had 128 total tackles this year with three sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.

"He's a very instinctive player," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "You can't go over every single thing that happens. So when something comes up, he almost always does the right thing. He just knows how to play."

Before the AFC title game, Steelers coach Bill Cowher was asked about former Steeler Mike Vrabel, and he brought up Bruschi.

"They remind you of the same type of guys: They're football players. If you put them on the track, and you get them in the weight room, they're not going to measure up to some of the other people in their positions. You put them on the football field and you give them time to prepare. They understand the game," Cowher said.

Bruschi is flattered by the suggestion he is what the Patriots are all about.

"That's a tremendous compliment," he said. "It's probably the biggest compliment that anyone can give me because I'm just really being who I am and who I was raised to be. I'm just being unselfish and trying to be a team player."

On top of that, Bruschi understands what it is important in life, and it's not always money.

He could make a credit card commercial: "Playing for the Patriots: Priceless."

Without an agent, he negotiated a four-year, $8.1 million deal this year even though the top 10 linebackers average $4 million a year.

In training camp, he told the Boston Herald: "How much is enough? How much do you need? I live in North Attelboro. 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? Do you want to stay somewhere and establish something.'"

He's not second-guessing himself because he's now going for his third Super Bowl ring.

"Some things are just more important for me. 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."

OnlineAthens: Sports: Blue-collar work ethic has paid off for Bruschi 02/02/05

Bruschi Pro Bowl-bound after all
By Michael Felger/ Patriots Notebook
Wednesday, February 2, 2005

 

JACKSONVILLE - The route came through the back door, but Tedy Bruschi [news] is still headed where he's belonged for years.
 

     The Patriots [stats, news]' blood-and-guts middle linebacker was named as a Pro Bowl-injury replacement for Ray Lewis yesterday. He will be making his first trip to Hawaii following the Super Bowl next week (with a possible stop back in Boston for a championship parade).
 

     Bruschi, who was voted as an alternate in both 2003 and 2004, was second on the Pats with 128 tackles. He also had three sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions.
 

     Earlier in the day, reporters marveled at the fact that Bruschi accepted a below-market deal to remain in New England.
 

     ``I was really trying to show people that there are players out there who don't care about certain things,'' Bruschi said. ``I care more about being with this team than going out and being a free agent and trying to (make more money). I wanted to let fans know that when I was a kid growing up, it really bothered me when I saw players going from team to team. I wanted to be a guy that maybe stuck with a team for an entire career.''

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: Bruschi Pro Bowl-bound after all

Super Bowl athletes face off before hitting the gridiron

 Before Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles and Tedy Bruschi of the New England Patriots put on their game faces for Super Bowl XXXIV, they will suit up for the eight annual pre-game Milk Mustache ad, debuting for the first and only time in the Friday, February 4, 2005 issue of USA TODAY.

Past Super Bowl Milk Celebs have included stars like Marshall Faulk, Brett Favre, John Elway and Tom Brady. The ad reads, "This Sunday, we'll see who wants it more. It's winner take all on game day, and only the strong survive. That's why milk's 9 essential nutrients are part of every competitor's game plan."

 

 

Bruschi pumped to earn Pro Bowl spot
By Mike Reiss/ Online Exclusive
Thursday, February 3, 2005

 

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Patriots [stats, news] inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] was eating dinner at the team's hotel Tuesday night when his cell phone rang. Bill Belichick [news] was on the other line.
 

     Whenever the coach calls, you best listen carefully. And these were some of the sweetest words Bruschi has heard: Congratulations Tedy, you're going to the Pro Bowl.
 

     "I was very excited," recalled Bruschi, who was added to the AFC squad in place of injured Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis.
 

     When the 31-year-old Bruschi hung up the phone, he quickly turned from football player to travel agent.
 

     "I called my wife (Heidi) first of all to let her know. We wondered how we were going to get all three of our boys down there (to Hawaii)," he said.
 

     The 6-foot-1, 247-pound Bruschi has started every game over the last two seasons, making 137 tackles in 2003 and 128 this season. He added 3.5 sacks and three interceptions in 2004, although when the initial Pro Bowl voting was released, the nine-year veteran was behind Lewis and Pittsburgh's James Farrior. But with Lewis out due to a wrist injury, Bruschi got the nod.
 

     Yesterday, he reflected on his career progression in New England, where he arrived in 1996 as a third-round draft choice who played defensive line.
 

     "I took it in stages from 1996 to a couple years ago," he said. "My mindset was to do well on special teams and rush the passer and learn how to play linebacker. As I learned how to play linebacker, you say, 'I know what to do when I see this.' You start to learn the defenses and you become a better tackler. It was simple steps like that. It was like 'OK, you know what you are doing, you know how to play linebacker now. It's time to make big plays that can change games.'"
 

     Bruschi said it wasn't until his fourth or fifth year that he truly felt comfortable at the position. Now, he's one of the AFC's best players, joining teammates Tom Brady [news] (quarterback), Larry Izzo (special teams), Richard Seymour [news] (defensive end) and Adam Vinatieri [news] (kicker) in the Pro Bowl.
 

     The game, which features the best players from the AFC and NFC, takes place Sunday, Feb. 13 in Hawaii.
 

     "It's something that I am proud of," Bruschi said. "That was my goal at least the last few years and say you know what you are doing now and it's time to take your game to the next level."

Pro Bowl for Bruschi

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Tedy Bruschi was eating dinner alone Tuesday night at the Patriots' hotel when his cell phone rang. It was Bill Belichick.

 

The coach isn't a small-talk kind of guy, so Bruschi figured this was serious. Was he in trouble? Did he miss a meeting? Did he say something out of school? No, it was nothing like that.

 

"Actually, it was one of the better phone calls I've received," Bruschi said yesterday, beaming.

 

Belichick contacted Bruschi to let him know he had been picked for the Pro Bowl as a replacement for the Ravens' Ray Lewis, who pulled out of the all-star game. After nine seasons, the last four as one of the top big-play inside linebackers in the NFL, Bruschi is going to his first Pro Bowl.

 

It has been an unusual journey, one that included a bout with alcohol.

 

Bruschi, perhaps the most respected player on the Patriots' defense, discussed his drinking problem yesterday during an interview session at Super Bowl XXXIX.

 

"Everyone has struggles in their life," he said. "There comes a time when you look at yourself and say, 'I've got to grow up.' It's a decision I made five, six years ago, when I wanted to become the best father and best husband I could possibly become."

 

Bruschi, who grew up in a tough neighborhood in San Francisco, was a party animal during his college career at Arizona. He racked up a remarkable number of sacks (he tied an NCAA record with 52) and he drank plenty of beers. Once, he was arrested for fighting in a billiards hall.

 

After being drafted by the Bill Parcells-coached Patriots in 1996, Bruschi continued his lifestyle. By then, he had a wife, Heidi, a former Arizona softball player, and a young son. He knew he was on a destructive path, but continued down that road.

 

"When I drank, I couldn't stop," said Bruschi, who revealed his drinking problem last month in an interview with the Boston Globe. "It had to be all out, just like on the football field. One beer wasn't enough."

 

Bruschi said his drinking never affected his performance on the field, but it started to affect his home life. It has been a "long, long time" since his last drink, and things are better with his family, which now includes three sons.

 

"Where it helped me was at home, just getting my life straight," Bruschi said. "It helped me be a better man to my family."

 

Bruschi's public image is that of a clean-cut, try-hard player who embodies the Patriots' way. But sometimes there are demons behind the facade of the heroic gladiator.

 

"You see the helmet and you see the pads, you see us perform incredible feats of athletic ability and you forget we're just regular guys," he said.

 

A regular guy looking for his third Super Bowl ring Sunday against the Eagles. Not bad for a player who, after thriving as an outside pass rusher in college, was converted to middle linebacker. It took him three or four years to get comfortable in the new position, but Bruschi has established himself as one of the best.

 

"Thank God Tedy got into the Pro Bowl," fellow linebacker Mike Vrabel said. "It's a crime that he didn't get voted in. It took a Ray Lewis injury for him to get in - a crime."

 

Bruschi isn't a "me" guy, but he admitted the Pro Bowl nod was satisfying.

 

"I came into this league not knowing what I was doing," he said. "I developed myself into a player that can be recognized as one of the best in the league. It's something that I'm proud of."

 

Now he can be the toast of the town, clear-headed and famous.

Originally published on February 3, 2005

New York Daily News - Sports - Pro Bowl for Bruschi

Knack for knowing drives Bruschi

Pats LB earns 1st Pro Bowl

Andrew Bagnato
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 3, 2005 12:00 AM

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Tedy Bruschi was sitting alone in the New England Patriots' team dining room Tuesday night when his cellphone went off.

The caller was head coach Bill Belichick.

"I was hoping it wasn't bad news," Bruschi said. "I hoped I didn't miss a meeting."

Belichick was calling to tell Bruschi he had made the Pro Bowl. The former University of Arizona star was a late replacement for injured Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis on the AFC roster.

"I'm not going to downplay it," Bruschi said, his dark eyes sparkling as he recounted the incident for reporters Wednesday. "I came in here not knowing what I was doing. I developed myself into a player that can be recognized as one of the best in the league."

It will be Bruschi's first trip to the Pro Bowl - a fact that seems absurd in light of Bruschi's contribution to the nascent New England dynasty. Bruschi personifies the Patriots' team-first ethic. Perhaps that's why he's often been overlooked since the Patriots selected him in the third round of the 1996 draft.

But there may be another reason.

"I'm not the biggest guy," said Bruschi, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 247 pounds.

Nor is he the fastest or the strongest. Arizona Wildcats fans remember that Dick Tomey was the only coach to offer Bruschi, a San Francisco Bay area product, a Division I-A scholarship.

Bruschi repaid Tomey by becoming a foundation of the fabled "Desert Swarm" defense. New England's unit doesn't have a catchy nickname, but Bruschi is every bit as important to the Patriots' success.

"He just seems to know where the ball is going to be and he gets there," New England guard Stephen Neal said. "He's hard to block. I'm really glad I don't have to go up against him on Sundays."

The 31-year-old Bruschi's maturity into one of the NFL's top defensive players matches his growth off the field.

Early in his career, Bruschi's reputation as a wild man wasn't limited to the gridiron. But in a Jan. 16 interview with Boston Globe columnist Jackie MacMullan, Bruschi said he decided six years ago that alcohol had become a problem for him.

"I got to a point where I realized whenever there was a problem in my life, whether I was getting into trouble or having trouble in my marriage, alcohol was involved," Bruschi told MacMullan. "It was an accumulation of events. I was about 24 or 25 years old. Heidi (Bruschi's wife) and I were having one of our arguments, because I had taken it too far one more time. I looked at it and I said, 'I'm tired of this.' So I quit drinking."

After practice on Thursday, Bruschi went into further detail with reporters.

"That is the decision that I made," Bruschi said. "About five, six years ago, I decided that I wanted to become the best father that I could possibly become."

Knack for knowing drives Bruschi

Bruschi gets to Hawaii the old-fashioned way - with hard work

By Bill Burt
Staff Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — You want some recent insight into what Tedy Bruschi is all about on the football field?

Forget about the picturesque cover shot of him in Sports Illustrated last week. Forget about the forced fumble he literally ripped out of running back Dominic Rhodes' hands against Indianapolis three Sundays ago. Forget about the way he clogged the hole with Mike Vrabel on the game-turning fourth-and-1 stop in the AFC championship game in Pittsburgh two Sundays ago.

Instead, go back to the final regular-season game against the San Francisco 49ers — a game that didn't have any bearing on the playoffs or home-field advantage, the game the Patriots starters were supposed to take off.

Bruschi made 14 tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage on a screen pass and a third-down run. The Patriots won the "meaningless" game, 21-7.

"I don't understand how anyone can say it is a meaningless game," said Bruschi before the game. "The 49ers are on the schedule and are coming (to Foxboro) to play a football game. That sounds important enough for me."

The NFL apparently agreed with Bruschi's pregame analysis and awarded him the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

It's among the many honors and accolades Bruschi has won in the last few weeks. But the one he received Tuesday night have been the most special: He's going to the Pro Bowl.

"Bill (Belichick) called me in my room," said Bruschi. "I was alone. At first, I'm thinking maybe I missed a meeting. But he told me I was going (to the Pro Bowl). I was pretty shocked."

Many who have watched Bruschi were shocked it hadn't happened the old-fashioned way, by a vote of players and coaches. On a team loaded with consistent performers, nobody — especially on defense — has been there every game like Bruschi has. In fact, you could argue that nobody on any defensive unit in the NFL has played as well as Bruschi has in 2004.

However, it took a wrist injury to Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis for Bruschi to get the nod — finally.

Man in the middle

While the Patriots have been winning a record number of games and a pair of Super Bowls since the start of the 2001 season, Bruschi has led the team with 403 tackles. So his incredible season in 2004 (see graphic) should not be a surprise.

The fact that his teammates named him a defensive captain for each of the last three seasons shows the respect they have for his game and his leadership. They know how hard he's worked to reach the top.

At the start of the 2001 season, Bruschi was a backup middle linebacker, used primarily on passing situations. When Bryan Cox went down with a knee injury, Bruschi was thrust into a new position, middle linebacker.

"It was as much out of necessity than anything else," said Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. "He had the skills to play inside. He was also very smart. But we didn't know what to expect.

"But every game he was there, he started to play better. We pretty much realized he could play inside. He always seemed to be around the ball and making plays."

Bruschi says it's never been as easy as people might think. He arrived in New England as a third-round draft choice from the University of Arizona as a pass rushing defensive end on the famed "Desert Storm" defense.

He graduated (as a communications major) with 52 sacks, tying him with Derrick Thomas for an NCAA Division 1-A record.

"My thing was to get the quarterback," said Bruschi. "Put me on the outside, on the edge, and let me go. That's what I did ... better than anyone in the history of college football."

When he got to the Patriots in 1996, he was tabbed as a linebacker rather than an end because of his minute size (6-1, 247 pounds). Talk about a humbling experience.

"I remember (former Pats defensive coordinator) Al Groh telling me one day at practice to see the pass and do a drop hook," said Bruschi. "I said, 'What's that?' I knew nothing about the pass."

Sadness amid the smiles

Smiling on the football field has never been a problem for Bruschi. It didn't matter who was coaching — he had a ball on Sundays.

Many times during the Pete Carroll era, a beaming Bruschi would hug his coach after a big play. The problem, he said, was the other six days, especially when he left the football field. Smiling, he said, was more the exception than the rule.

"I had a problem with alcohol," said Bruschi. "I can talk about it now. It was about five or six years ago. I had had enough."

The reasons?

He didn't take well to his parents' divorce when he was in elementary school. The things that went with it, like living in lower-class neighborhoods, didn't help matters.

Being angry about your home life is understandable when you're young. But years later, when you have a wife and child at home, such a response is unacceptable.

"I was wild," said Bruschi, referring to his early days with the Patriots. "I wasn't a good father or husband. And at one point, that was it. I stopped drinking."

Bruschi says he isn't quite sure if his football career blossomed when the drinking stopped, but one teammate says the correlation is loud and clear.

"Tedy always could play," said linebacker Ted Johnson. "But he had some personal changes in his life. All I know is that now he is more at peace with himself. He knows who he is as a person. When you take care of your personal life, I believe you can transfer that to other things. And I believe Tedy did that. He has always been good. But now he's a great player."

From steady to super

Bruschi has arguably been a Pro Bowl-caliber player for the past three seasons. How he has blossomed from a steady and productive role player into a budding superstar after his 30th birthday (he'll turn 32 in June) is anybody's guess.

"I think it's his knowledge of the game," said Johnson. "He played defensive line in college. He knows what blocking schemes are in front of him. And then you add the fact that Tedy takes chances. He takes risks. He really has come into his own."

Crennel believes Bruschi's best asset is his head. Since he became a starter in the middle in 2001, Bruschi has always made the fewest mental errors, a category Belichick obsesses over.

"You look at him out on the field and he has become the leader on the defense, like a quarterback," said Crennel. "That's the responsibility of a middle linebacker. You have to have the ability to see things on offense and know what adjustments there are to be made. Tedy does that as well as anyone."

Bruschi isn't quite sure when he started to understand his new position, but he remembers some early plays when he would break one way or another when the ball was snapped.

"It seemed like I guessed right most of the time," said Bruschi. "I realized that I was starting to understand this position a little better every time out."

Now, finally, the rest of the football world understands it as well.

He and Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb were chosen to do the "milk mustache" magazine ads. He was late to yesterday's media session because Fox wanted him for a TV interview. He's headed to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl next week. At last, Tedy Bruschi is a full-fledged star.

The first person he called after finding out the news on Tuesday night was his wife, Heidi.

"Now the problem is we have to find a way to get my three boys (to Hawaii)," said Bruschi. It's a nice problem ... finally.

With Pats' Bruschi, it's all team, all the time




INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The strength of the New England Patriots lies in those three words: New England Patriots. They are every inch a team. Individuals need not apply.

 

No Patriot exemplifies this spirit more than veteran linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

With two Super Bowl rings in his safe deposit box, he could have left New England for free-agent riches after last season.

 

But he stayed with the Patriots, negotiating his own contract, to boot.

 

Now, Bruschi is preparing for his fourth Super Bowl in nine seasons as a Patriot.

 

``The Super Bowl is not the reason I stayed here,'' Bruschi said today. ``My teammates and the New England Patriots are the reason I stayed. I started with this team, and I want to finish with this team. I really wanted to be part of something for my whole career.''

 

Bruschi, 31, was a defensive end at the University of Arizona, registering 52 sacks in his career. After being drafted in the third round of the 1996 draft, he was moved to linebacker. Over time, he has become one of the best in the game, a hard hitter with a knack for making big plays in big games.

 

Even the Eagles have noticed that.

 

``He always shows up for big games,'' Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. ``You always want a guy who shows up for big games.''

What sets Bruschi apart from other great ones is his intangibles -- his passion for the game, his intensity, his energy, his will to win.

 

Many players talk about having those qualities. Bruschi shows them every time he steps on the field.

 

``I would say he's the heart and soul of this team,'' said long snapper Lonie Paxton, who has been part of two Super Bowl winning Patriots teams. ``His intensity. His fire. He plays that way every game, every play. He has it in every meeting. That's what guys love about him.''

 

``Tedy is full-tilt, full-time,'' added New England center Dan Koppen.

 

Some of Bruschi's teammates have called him ``Plastic Man,'' for his willingness to bend and contort his body.

 

``He's a special guy,'' Koppen said. ``He's out there every day working hard, trying to get better. He has a great attitude. He's great in the locker room. There's nothing he's not willing to do to win.''

 

Where does this passion come from?

 

``I don't know how you develop it,'' Bruschi said ``I've just played that way from the first time I ever put a helmet on. I play with emotion.

 

``That's the only way to play as far as I'm concerned. You have to play that way. Sometimes a half-yard can win or lose you a game.''

 

In addition to passion and fire, Bruschi gets high marks for his football instincts. They helped him make the transition from defensive line in college to linebacker in the pros.

 

``I'm not the biggest, strongest or fastest guy,'' Bruschi said. ``I have to anticipate things. Instincts are my greatest asset.''

 

Head coach Bill Belichick agrees.

 

``He's a smart player who instinctively seems to do everything right in the right situation,'' Belichick said. ``We put him on the punt team. He's a guy you want on special teams. You can't go over every situation, but he's so instinctive that when something happens he almost always does the right thing.''

 

Bruschi doesn't mind helping out on special teams. He did it in college, too.

 

``I was a fifth-year senior and I had gotten some accolades and they still had me on punt teams,'' he said. ``The message was: No matter who you are, we need you to help the team.''

 

With Bruschi, it's all team, all the time.

 

``I was raised to worry about winning, not personal accolades,'' he said. ``Everything is for the common good of the team.''

 

``That's what makes Tedy a winner,'' defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said. ``He knows what it takes to win, from the classroom to the field, he gives himself every chance to be successful.''

 

Even though he's a veteran of three Super Bowls, Bruschi has learned to cherish every one. It never gets old.

 

``I live for the moment,'' he said. ``This is my fourth time around and I still get excited. When I go to bed Saturday night I'll do my best to go to sleep, but I know it will be hard.''

Philly.com | 02/01/2005 | With Pats' Bruschi, it's all team, all the time

 

 

Super Bowl Hype: Milking It

Two Super Bowl-bound stars earn their stripes

By Lisa Altobelli

You know you're the cream of the NFL crop when the milk guys come calling. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi were invited to endorse the beverage last week, joining a list of lactose-tolerant athletes that includes players from the last seven Super Bowls, as well as more than 200 celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Hilary Duff. "I've done more than 150 of these, and I swear I don't know who half the people are," says Norman Stewart, a 37-year-old L.A. food stylist who has been painting the mustache for five years. Stewart concocted the 'stache recipe -- a strange brew that includes cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla ice cream and secret ingredients Stewart refuses to divulge. "The trick was to make it the right density and have it taste good," says Stewart. "I pour it in a glass, and they tip it until it goes about three quarters of the way from their upper lip to the nose. After a dab with a tissue [and a little brushwork] it lasts for two rolls of film." The Super Bowl print ads were shot separately in Massachusetts and New Jersey by longtime SI photographer Walter Iooss, who directed Bruschi to get more animated. ("I would pick a nice, cold glass of milk over a brewski any day," said the linebacker and father of two.) McNabb, who grimaced at the taste of Stewart's concoction, was delighted to be joining the ranks of milk men that include QBs Tom Brady and Brett Favre and spoke of his childhood craving for calcium: "I look back in time where I sat back and drank milk to give me that extra edge.... [Drinking milk] has put me in a position to fulfill a dream." The shoots took 1 1/2 hours each. "Bruschi was just a dear," said Stewart. But the 'stache man's favorite endorser was Muhammad Ali, who suffers from the effects of Parkinson's disease. "It was tough to get [the mustache] on because he was bouncing up and down a bit," said Stewart. "But he had great strength, and you could see the toughness in his eyes. It was an honor to apply that mustache."

Issue date: February 7, 2005

SI.com - SI Players - Super Bowl Hype: Milking It - Tuesday February 1, 2005 12:54PM

Sportsview: Bruschi Still Likes to Hit

By JIM LITKE, AP Sports Columnist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The kid always loved contact. Tedy Bruschi's introduction to football came with a handful of pals on a small, weather-beaten patch of grass in a tough part of San Francisco. Come Sunday, he will step onto the biggest and best manicured stage the game has to offer. But the thing Bruschi loved most about it has never changed.

Photo
AP Photo
 

 

"The end result is still hitting someone," he said as the Patriots and Eagles moved into the stretch run for the Super Bowl. "But now I know there's a lot more to it."

How much more depends on how deep you want to dig. On one level, Bruschi is talking about learning his craft, about how a defensive lineman who relied on speed and power morphed into a linebacker who can decipher opposing offenses with unerring accuracy and cause as much havoc with his intelligence as his aggression.

On another level, it was about learning how to control the anger that roiled inside Bruschi since childhood. After his parents divorced, he struggled to please a demanding father and felt helpless to lift the burdens his mother had to take on. Bruschi fought often and drank more than he should have. The horizon never stretched beyond what was in front of him.

"I had a chip on my shoulder the size of a boulder," he told the Boston Globe last month. "I suppose it comes from growing up hard. I can't fully explain it. All I know is it seemed like I was angry a lot when I played football."

Bruschi didn't play organized football until he was 14, but he made up for the lost time in a hurry. He ran track, wrestled and lettered in football his last two years at Roseville High near Sacramento, Calif., but didn't think about playing college ball until the recruiting letters began pouring in.

At Arizona, he became the leader of the Wildcats' "Desert Swarm" defense and wound up tying the NCAA (news - web sites) Division I record for career sacks. But there, too, Bruschi never considered stepping up to the next level until everyone around him started speculating about his place in the NFL draft. It turns out the pro scouts hadn't thought much about his chances, either; Bruschi slipped to the Patriots' third round in the 1996 draft, the 86th pick overall.

"The first day in camp made me realize how much I had to learn," he recalled. "It was so much more challenging that it made me want to — actually, forced me to — learn the game all over again."

His development into one of the game's finest linebackers has been documented on highlight reels ever since. Bruschi served his apprenticeship as a part-time defender and special-teams marvel, getting in just enough licks to keep him satisfied. All the while, he patiently mastered coach Bill Belichick's intricate schemes, studying film endlessly and gaining the experience and confidence necessary to become more than a bit player.

With more responsibility came more and more plays. He ripped the ball away from running backs, separated it from receivers, stole perfectly good throws from quarterbacks and carried a few back to the end zone. That kind of versatility has become as crucial to the success of New England's punishing, opportunistic defense as the mad genius of a coach who draws it up.

"Intense, passionate, productive, smart, physical and now you can use the words 'Pro Bowler,' too, to describe Tedy," said Mike Vrabel, who plays alongside Bruschi, "which was long overdue as far as I'm concerned."

Philadelphia Eagles (news) tight end L.J. Smith, whose job will carry him into Bruschi's territory more than once Sunday, wouldn't contest even one of those points.

"He's probably not the best athlete on the field," Smith said, "just the one who makes plays. You know coach Belichick doesn't trust too many guys to step outside their roles, but the more you watch film, the more places he's likely to turn up."

At 31, Bruschi's life away from the field is a reflection of his maturity on it.

He quit drinking a half-dozen years ago, troubled by the fact that unlike when he played football, he was losing control at all the wrong moments. It was one quality he couldn't bear passing on to his three young sons.

"Everyone has troubles in their life," Bruschi said. "But there comes a time when you try to look at yourself and say it's time to grow up. It's a decision I just made. About five, six years ago, I decided I wanted to become the best father I could."

On game days, though, Bruschi has no problems reaching back for the memories of that kid who considered a scraped knee a badge of courage and found nothing more satisfying than lowering his shoulder and knocking a ball carrier into the next block.__

Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press.

Yahoo! News - Sportsview: Bruschi Still Likes to Hit

Overachieving Bruschi the ultimate Patriot


By Pete Prisco
SportsLine.com Senior Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tom Brady gets much of the spotlight, but linebacker Tedy Bruschi is really Mr. Patriot.

No player on the roster sums up the New England Patriots way more than Bruschi. He isn't a physical specimen. He changed positions from college to the pros, and he has the cerebral makeup and desire required of Bill Belichick players.

Tedy Bruschi has the knack for being in the right place and making big plays when he gets there. (AP)

 

Tedy Bruschi has the knack for being in the right place and making big plays when he gets there. (AP)

 

He personifies the Patriots.

"That's a tremendous compliment," Bruschi said. "It's probably the biggest compliment anyone could give me because I'm just being who I am who and who I was raised to be. I'm just being unselfish and trying to be a team player. Not only a team player but a good father, a good family man, a brother, and that is just who I am out there with this team also.

"I'm just trying to make sure that I know that I am not the only one that can do it out there, and that I need help from my friends, and that is just who I am. I'm not looking for the spotlight or individual accolades. I appreciate the compliment, and it really doesn't get old."

Bruschi might not want the attention, but it's coming his way now. When Ray Lewis opted out of next week's Pro Bowl because of an injury, Bruschi was named as his replacement. He will be headed to Hawaii for the first time in his career, and it's much deserved.

Bruschi is 100 percent football player. Like I've said before, give me 21 Bruschis and one quarterback and I'd take my chances on Sunday.

The way Belichick's face lights up as he talks about Bruschi says tons about the way he feels about him.

"Bruschi is a fun player to coach," Belichick said. "He's got great versatility. He has a very high level of energy and enthusiasm that he brings to the team. He is a smart player, who just instinctively seems to do everything right in the right situation. He is just a very instinctive football player. You can't go over every single thing that happens, so when something comes up he almost always does the right thing. He just knows how to play."

Bruschi came to the Patriots in the third round of the 1996 draft. He was a college defensive end at Arizona, known as a pure pass rusher. But at 6-1, 245 pounds, there were doubts about his size. Could he play standing up?

What the doubters forgot is that you can measure height and weight and a 40 time, but you can't measure a player's desire and heart on combine day. Bruschi would have scored way above average in both if you could.

Bruschi struggled early to adjust to his role as linebacker with the Patriots. He also spent a lot of time focusing on things outside of football, things that slowed his growth.

"It comes a time where a lot of you try and look at yourselves and say it's time to grow up," Bruschi said. "That is the decision that I made."

As he started to have children, he said he changed the way he lived. He wanted to be a good father. It also helped him become a better player. The devotion was now there.

Gradually, he started to become a force. He started making impact plays. A tipped pass here, a pick there. He'd get a sack on a blitz one week, a game-saving turnover the next.

Tedy Bruschi transformed himself into a Pro Bowl linebacker.

"I developed myself into a player that can be recognized as one of the best in the league by going to the Pro Bowl and making All-Pro teams," Bruschi said. "It's something that I am proud of."

Some writers have said he has an outside chance at the Hall of Fame with a couple more good years, but that's stretching it; a bust in Canton is a real long shot. But that's OK.

Being the face of a dynasty isn't all that bad, you know.

Tedy Bruschi is that for the New England Patriots. He is 100 percent football player, just the way coaches like it.

Patriots' linebacking corps is deep and versatile

JACKSONVILLE — They are the Swiss Army knife of the New England Patriots defense. Stuff the run. Rush the quarterback. Cover in the passing game.

"Whatever we need," Mike Vrabel says, "that's the direction we go.Vrabel, referring to the band of brothers that forms New England's linebackers corps, makes it sound so easy.Yet the production, versatility, chemistry and depth of New England's unit cannot be taken for granted. Perhaps the deepest group of linebackers in the league, it represents a huge reason the Patriots defense withstood an assortment of adversity to get back to the Super Bowl.

The exotic schemes designed by coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel begin with the linebackers — a group that includes three of the six Patriots who are on their fourth Super Bowl team.

"We're certainly the oldest group on defense, and we know what the hell is going on," Ted Johnson says. "We've been around long enough to know what the coaches expect."

Johnson starts alongside Tedy Bruschi at the inside posts, with Vrabel and Willie McGinest on the edges. It doesn't end there. The Patriots maximize freshness with a six-man rotation that includes Rosevelt Colvin and pass-coverage ace Roman Phifer.

Belichick calls them interchangeable, insisting the play-calling is not dependent on what personnel is on the field.

An even bigger plus is what that personnel provides. Belichick says of the linebackers he has coached, McGinest is the best at the subtle art of redirecting receivers. McGinest can redirect quarterbacks, too; he posted a team-high 9 1/2 sacks this season.

Meanwhile, Vrabel, a former college lineman who flopped as a Pittsburgh Steeler but has flourished as a Patriot, is Mr. Versatility. He has occasionally lined up at tight end — he caught a touchdown pass in Super Bowl XXXVIII — and even at nose tackle.

Then there's Bruschi, the sparkplug in the middle with a knack for big plays. A college defensive end who set the NCAA sack mark, he was too small to survive playing up front in the NFL. New England found a home for him inside; this week Bruschi was named to his first Pro Bowl.

"Everybody brings a little something different," says Vrabel, noting that Colvin and McGinest were also defensive ends in college. "But in the same sense you've got some qualities that are similar."

A huge test awaits in Super Bowl XXXIX, starting with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and running back Brian Westbrook.

McNabb's ability to scramble, either to buy time to throw or to run it himself, will meet head-on with the unit's ability to contain the edges.

Westbrook, who lines up in a variety of spots, will test matchups as much in the passing game as he does in the rushing game.

"One guy is not going to do it," Johnson says. "But we all understand ... he's a go-to guy in critical situations."

Crennel acknowledges Westbrook's role is reminiscent of how the St. Louis Rams used Marshall Faulk in Super Bowl XXXVI. In that game, the Patriots' scheme was heavy on contact. Faulk and other receivers were never given clean releases in running their routes, throwing off the Rams' offensive rhythm.

More recently, the linebackers kept the windows tight in the shutdown of the high-powered Indianapolis Colts offense in the divisional playoffs and helped confuse Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the AFC title game by dropping into coverage often while rarely blitzing. Said McGinest, "Our versatility is a big key."

Linebackers coach Pepper Johnson says his unit reminds him of the New York Giants corps that he once starred on with the likes of Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks and Harry Carson.

"These guys are real close friends," Johnson says. "So they play for each other. They push each other. They play well off each other. Vrabel knows what Tedy Bruschi is thinking, and vice versa on down the line."

No wonder Bruschi calls his fellow linebackers "my football brothers." And Phifer turned down a free agent offer from the Oakland Raiders. And Colvin, who joined the team as a free agent in 2003, sounded much like Vrabel in describing a yearning to be accepted by the others. The chemistry has proven to be an awesome mix.

"So much has to do with character," Phifer says. "These are the type of unselfish guys that you'd want to be friends with, even without football. That helps.

"You'll play harder for a guy that you like, rather than just a guy you're coming to work with."

USATODAY.com - Patriots' linebacking corps is deep and versatile

Pats huddle over Letterman's Top Ten
By Inside Track
Friday, February 4, 2005

Limelight-starved New England Patriots Tedy Bruschi, Larry Izzo, Willie McGinest, Troy Brown and Adam Vinatieri will tear themselves away from Super Bowl scheming to make an appearance on `The Late Show with David Letterman' tonight to read the Top 10 list: `Top Ten Things You Don't Want to Hear in a Huddle.'

     For those of you who can't wait until 11:30 p.m., here's No. 7: `Hey, I thought of another word that rhymes with huddle - cuddle.' as read by linebacker Tedy `Bear' Bruschi, above, and No. 3: `The equipment manager screwed up, so we're all gonna have to share a mouth guard,' courtesy of McGinest.

 

 

 

Sports Illustrated 2/7/05 issue

 

A Super Sunday for the Bruschi boys

Dave Kindred / TSN

 

 

When the Patriots arrived early for the game of their lives — again — bubbly linebacker Tedy Bruschi backpedaled onto the turf, wearing his civvies, just a daddy playing with his little boys. The daddy bent over, retreating from Tedy Jr. and Rex, both in "Bruschi 54" jerseys hanging to their knees, giggling in anticipation of what they were about to do, which was jump onto daddy's belly because he had teetered over backward, and there may have been nowhere in this land a happier father and sons.

How sweet these games little boys play.

 

"This is just wonderful," the biggest little boy said six hours later.

 

Another Super Bowl victory for the Patriots, for the master coach Bill Belichick, for Tedy Bruschi, who was asked if this third championship felt different from the others, and he said, "It feels 10 times better."

 

Because of all that pressure, all those questions.

 

A dynasty in the making?

 

Belichick as the New Lombardi?

 

With three championships in four years, might not the Patriots belong up there with the great Cowboys and the great Steelers?

 

"You try to block all that talk out," Bruschi said, "but it gets in. You try to go out there and say it doesn't matter. You play it like it's another football game. Just another game."

 

He smiled at that one. Yeah, right. Just another game. Just a game with, oh, a billion people watching on television and in the house two old United States presidents, a Beatle and Charlie Daniels under that big ol' hat, bringin' sparks from that devil's fiddle.

 

Bruschi even tried to sell that self-deprecation a minute after he had said it was 10 times better.

 

Wait a minute, Tedy, which is it?

 

"Well," he said.

 

Smiling.

 

"Perhaps this one is more special. We established our dominance over four years. Shows maybe it wasn't such an upset over the Rams (four years ago, when the Rams were the moment's sensation). Now maybe we're looking at this team as one of the best teams in history."

 

No argument here. In the past four years, the Patriots have done stuff both sensational and unprecedented. Won an NFL-record 21 straight games. Won nine straight playoff games. Won three of four Super Bowls. Gone 32-2 lately.

 

And on a night when they needed to be aggressive, precise and dominant defensively, they were when it mattered most. Quick, strong, relentless defenders can transform any game into an untidy mess at best, an abomination at worst. Early on, for every Donovan McNabb and Tom Brady success, there were a half-dozen countervailing arguments created by the Tedy Bruschis and Jevon Kearses who would have a quarterback's head for the den wall. The best thing that could be said about the 7-all tie at halftime was that the intermission act, Paul McCartney, did America's Puritans a great service by keeping all of his body parts covered at all times.

 

Suggestions of the Patriots' dominance were seen near the first half's end. Though the Patriots botched a scoring chance with an atypical Brady fumble at the Eagles' 4, they immediately came back with a 37-yard touchdown drive for that 7-7 tie. And they opened the third quarter with a 69-yard drive for a 14-7 lead.

 

Tedy Bruschi gets ready to tackle son T.J. while playing on the field before Super Bowl XXXIX. The Eagles only wish Bruschi was as gentle with them. (David J. Phillip / AP)

 

Suddenly, the field had shifted the Patriots' way. Suddenly, the Patriots clearly looked to be the best. Their old linebacker, Willie McGinest, felt it happening. "Things were turning," he said. "That's the way we play. We bring it all to every game, and we leave it all on the field." Though McNabb passed for 357 yards, he was erratic all night, especially under the Patriots' pressure. "We were coming off the edge against him," McGinest said, "because we knew he liked to escape, especially to our left. We made it so he couldn't run outside us and he couldn't run inside us."

 

It was Patriots, 24-14, with just under 8 minutes to play when McNabb, under pressure, threw wildly over the middle. Bruschi saw the ball coming. "I'd dropped back in zone, swung right, nobody there, so I came back left, and there was the ball, and I dove for it," he said. Interception.

 

The kind that establishes who's best.

 

Then with 17 seconds to play, when the Patriots stole another pass, Bruschi sprinted to the sideline, a man on one more mission. "Man, that's something we just haven't been able to do," he said.

 

He meant the Gatorade jug. The other two times, the Patriots scored the winning points only in the closing seconds. So, for the first time, Bill Belichick enjoyed a Super Bowl dunking.

 

And then Tedy Bruschi went to Section 144 behind the Patriots' bench. There he picked up Tedy Jr. and Rex, one in each arm, all those Bruschi boys smiling in the night.

 

 

FOXSports.com - NFL Playoffs- A Super Sunday for the Bruschi boys

 

Bruschi likes company

Win 'establishes our dominance'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The "D" word has been mentioned early and often by the media throng the last two weeks. But the Patriots, ever mindful of the task at hand, refused to comment on talk of themselves as a dynasty. There was a Super Bowl to win and no one on the club was going to make the mistake of looking past a worthy opponent -- the Philadelphia Eagles

But after last night's 24-21 victory at Alltel Stadium, linebacker Tedy Bruschi said his team deserved the lofty title.

"It establishes our dominance to tell you the truth, that's what it does," said Bruschi. "You want to talk about any other team that's done this before [winning three titles in four years], you can talk about the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s. They were considered a dynasty. So, you want to put us in that company now? We've done something to earn the right to be put in that company and we all feel great that we can be put in that company.

"It's funny, everybody says three out of four so much you forget we just won back to back. That's something a lot of people haven't done. It's a great honor. What we just accomplished, there is only one other team in history that's accomplished it and that's Dallas in the 1990s. I feel honored to be in that company because I feel we're that good."

Bruschi said it was tough to rank the three Super Bowl wins, but gave the edge to this one because it's so hard to compete in the NFL at such a high level for so long.

"Perhaps this is more special because this shows everyone what kind of team we are and what kind of players we have to achieve this type of dominance over the last four years," he said. "It's sort of an exclamation point, saying, `Hey, it wasn't an upset vs. the Rams.' The one vs. Carolina was another one, but this is saying, `Here we are, we're good players,' and I think we're established to the point where people can say, `We've got to start looking at these guys as one of the better teams in history.' "

The Eagles led by a touchdown midway through the second quarter but the Patriots weren't rattled. Instead, they just regrouped.

"Being down 7-0 in the Super Bowl, sometimes you can get tight," said Bruschi. "Sometimes, it can be, `I don't know, what do we do now?' But we've been in big games and we're talking on the sidelines, saying, `We're OK. Let's fix what we've got to fix and let the offense do what they do.' If they score, great. If they don't, then you go out there and [shut the Eagles down] and get [the offense] back on the field."

New England's defense did a tremendous job putting pressure on quarterback Donovan McNabb.

"As good a game as he played, there were some throws that we thought were underthrown or overthrown but that's good coverage," said Bruschi. "We played a lot of man-to-man."

After the Patriots went up, 24-14, with 8:40 left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles answered. They drove to the Patriots' 36, but McNabb's pass, intended for L.J. Smith, was picked off by Bruschi, killing the drive. Bruschi said it came as a result of switching to zone coverage after playing mostly man-to-man.

"I opened up to the right I believe and I swung back left and saw the ball and made a read on the ball and it was just thrown at a place where I could dive and go get it," said Bruschi.

As loquacious as Bruschi is, he said it was hard to convey just how thrilled he was.

"It feels incredibly different," he said. "It feels 10 times better. You just don't take world championships for granted. I'm just so thankful and so grateful. Every one is different. Every one is its own special game and this one was a special game."

Another of the many forces for New England was defensive end Richard Seymour, who was playing his first contest since suffering a left leg injury Dec. 26 against the Jets. Seymour was credited with one sack and two tackles.

"I just wanted to go out there and have some confidence in it and I was able to gain some confidence," said Seymour. "I had a couple of good days of practice so I wanted to go out there and give it a shot. I was able to go out there and it felt pretty good."

As good as he felt personally, he said it was a hard-fought win for the whole team.

"We never could feel comfortable in the football game," he said. "We were never able to put the game away. We had to play to the end."

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Bruschi likes company

 

 

Big day for Bruschi
Roseville High product collects third Super Bowl ring in four trips

Michael kirby/gold country news service Roseville High football coaches Larry Cunha, left, and David Necoechea, both former coaches of New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, cheered the team on during Sunday's Super Bowl.

Winning Super Bowls never gets old for former Roseville High star Tedy Bruschi and the New England Patriots.

Watching the Patriots win also never gets old for Bruschi's former high school coach Larry Cunha, and the friends Bruschi still has in Roseville.

Sunday at his home in Rocklin, Cunha and other Roseville High coaches gathered to watch Bruschi, a linebacker for the Patriots, capture his third Super Bowl ring in four years.

The Patriots outlasted the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21, but while the game was still in doubt, Cunha paced like a nervous father, constantly rising from his leather armchair, then sitting back down."It's a nervous time to a certain degree. You're nervous for him," he said. "But by the same token it's not like you can control it. If you're coaching the game at the high school level, you're a little nervous, you're anxious and that kind of thing, but you can control that to a certain degree. But watching it on TV, you're just kind of along for the ride."

The coach and his former student still exchange messages, some over the last two

weeks when Bruschi told Cunha he couldn't wait for all of the pre-game Super Bowl hype to end and Sunday's game to begin.

When the game finally started, it didn't take Bruschi long to make his presence felt.

His early blitz of Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb helped produce a fumble, and the resulting pile-up had everyone in the Cunha household looking on eagerly.

"That'll be Tedy underneath there," Cunha said, watching with anticipation

before seeing Bruschi come up with the ball. The play was later reversed after a Philadelphia challenge, but it was still typical Bruschi.

"He's just got the instinct for playing the game and making plays," Cunha said. "He still does that, just on a higher level."

Cunha's son Zac, 10, wore one memento from a visit with Bruschi - an

autographed jersey. He received it when he met Bruschi last year after the player arranged for the Cunhas to attend last year's AFC championship game.

"I don't think I know anyone else who's come from Roseville that's been in

the Super Bowl," the younger Cunha said Sunday.

His father and two other Roseville coaches, volleyball coach Ron Grove and assistant football coach David Necoechea, watched the game intently. Cunha admitted that whenever he watches Bruschi, "You're just proud. You get a little parent in you. You realize it's special and you live a little vicariously through it."

Other than that, he takes no personal satisfaction from Bruschi's accomplishments.

"I don't think that I'm that self-centered or selfish to think that he's there because of me or because of anything that I did," Cunha said. "I did for him what I try to do for all of our guys, and that's to teach him some football and how I think the game should be played.

"In the end, is it satisfying to have one of your former players in the NFL? Absolutely. It's a special accomplishment. I'm just honored to have had the opportunity to coach him."

Grove was the adviser for Bruschi's senior class. He remembers his spirit and athleticism that made students and teachers admire him.

"He was the type of person other people would follow, even without his

athletic achievements," he said. "He was fun, loud, and funny - without

being obnoxious.

"He's like the motor who never quit and that's what endeared him to people."

Necoechea knew Bruschi would go on to do great things, but didn't know he'd get the exposure and Super Bowl wins he has.

"For his size, the things he could do," Necoechea said of Bruschi's high school days. "He had great explosion in his legs and a vertical leap that, for his age, was more than anyone else."

These days it's not Bruschi's athletic ability that separates him from his peers, but his three world championships.

"Hopefully they have enjoyed each and every one," Cunha noted, "because there's nothing guaranteed that there will be another one."

Roseville Press-Tribune : Sports

 

Bruschi gets job done: Plays key role in Pats' win
By Greg Gatlin
Monday, February 7, 2005

 

JACKSONVILLE - It may be like picking a favorite child, but for Tedy Bruschi [news], a third Super Bowl win may be the best one yet.
 

     ``Perhaps this is more special,'' said Bruschi, who was on the field with the defense when Rodney Harrison [news]'s interception iced last night's 24-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX. ``This shows everyone what kind of team we are. It's sort of an exclamation point.''
 

     This time, Adam Vinatieri [news] didn't have to step in and kick a game-winning field goal in the final seconds

 

Every unit wants to be on the field when the game is won, Bruschi said.
 

     ``It's nice that Adam didn't have to go out there and do it again,'' he said.
 

     Bruschi clipped the Eagles' wings with six tackles, one sack and a fourth-quarter interception as Donovan McNabb was driving his team toward what could have been a game-tying touchdown. Bruschi and the Pats defense had seen McNabb underthrow some passes and were playing zone coverage. With 7:27 left in the game and the Eagles on the Patriots [stats, news]' 35-yard line, McNabb dropped back and looked for L.J. Smith. Bruschi started to his right, then swung left.
 

     ``I made a read on the ball. It was in a place where I had to dive and go get it,'' Bruschi said.
 

     The defense put heavy pressure on McNabb early in the game. Bruschi recovered a fumble on the Eagles' opening drive, but it was reversed when a replay revealed McNabb's knee hit the ground while he was wrapped up by Bruschi earlier on the play. It resulted in a sack for a 10-yard loss, forcing the Eagles to punt.
 

     ``We came after him with some blitzes,'' Bruschi said. ``We sort of formed a half-circle that didn't let him scramble.''
 

     The Patriots have not let a lot of teams score first. So when the Eagles struck with a second-quarter touchdown, it could have gotten sticky.
 

     ``Being down 7-0, sometimes you can get tight,'' Bruschi said. ``But we've been in big games before. On the sidelines, we told each other, `We're OK. We're OK.' ''
 

     All week Bruschi has refused to talk about a Patriots dynasty, saying that's for history to determine. But the defensive captain came close after the game. He used another `D' word.
 

     ``It just establishes our dominance, to tell you the truth,'' Bruschi said.
 

Key play of the game: Bruschi's pick derailed Eagles

10:07 PM EST on Monday, February 7, 2005

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Down 10 points with a little less than eight minutes remaining in the Super Bowl, the Eagles had just gotten a big 36-yard catch-and-run from wide receiver Terrell Owens.

Setting up shop at the Patriots' 36, they appeared poised to put themselves within a score.

Then Donovan McNabb threw a very bizarre pass. It was either thrown behind Dorsey Levens or too short for tight end L.J. Smith.

Whoever he was throwing it to certainly wasn't Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, but that's where it wound up. Bruschi's diving interception gave the Pats the ball at their own 30. They went three-and-out but they peeled time off the clock and got a booming Josh Miller punt to chase the Eagles inside their 5-yard line, a long way to go for a tying field goal or game-winning TD.

-- TOM E. CURRAN

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

Life is good


Tedy Bruschi and the Pats are enjoying their success


Herald Staff Writer

They chased Tedy Bruschi across midfield, finally catching him near the 30-yard line, where they pushed him to the turf and jumped on top of the New England linebacker. And Bruschi laughed as he hugged his sons, Tedy Jr. and Rex. Together they rolled on the grass at Alltel Stadium. Father and sons, spending quality time on a sunny afternoon.

OK, so it was Super Bowl Sunday, and in a few hours, Bruschi would play a leading role, helping his Patriots to a 24-21 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX for their second straight title and third in four years. His fourth quarter interception is a moment he'll likely remember for a long time. But so was his afternoon with his sons.

Spend some time around the New England Patriots and you learn this: These guys know who they are, know what they've done and know what they're capable of doing. They are as relaxed a team as you'll find, both before the biggest game of the season and during.

Maybe it comes from all the winning.

Or maybe it's the reason they win so often.

The Patriots are Super Bowl champions again. They went 17-2 during each of the last two seasons and have staked a claim to the title of "dynasty," even if they refuse to refer to themselves as one.

"Other people can talk about it," Bruschi said late Sunday night. "We don't mind, but we're just excited about what we've done right here, right now. It's a great feeling."

"We're champions, that's it," safety Rodney Harrison said. "I don't know about a dynasty."

Only one other team won three Super Bowl titles in four years - the 1992-1995 Dallas Cowboys - and only seven teams, including the Cowboys, won back-to-back titles. No team has ever won three straight, but that is obviously what the Patriots will try to accomplish next season.

They do that, and they are a legitimate dynasty, but in today's NFL, with free agency and salary caps, the Patriots have to be considered one now.

The last three recognized dynasties never had to deal with those.

Green Bay ruled the NFL in the 1960s, winning the first two Super Bowls. Then coach Vince Lombardi left, and it would be another 29 years before the Packers played again on Super Bowl Sunday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won four titles between the 1974-79 seasons. The nucleus of that team started together, gelled into a championship team and grew old together, something that's unlikely to happen again in the NFL.

San Francisco won five titles between the 1981-94 seasons but benefited from the Hall of Fame careers of quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young and a talented core of players the franchise was able to keep together. And the 49ers' front office was able to replace the talent that did leave with more talent.

Free agency stopped the Cowboys of the early 1990s as much as career-ending injuries to quarterback Troy Aikman and receiver Michael Irvin.

What will stop these Patriots?

Parity? Maybe. The Steelers, playing a rookie at quarterback, had the best record in the NFL, and Ben Roethlisberger only figures to get better.

The Indianapolis Colts have Peyton Manning at quarterback and a stable of talented receivers. It could be just a matter of time before they overtake the Patriots.

The New York Jets are improving, and they share the same division as the Patriots.

There's also the loss of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who's off to rebuild Notre Dame, and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, who officially became the Cleveland Browns' head coach Sunday night.

"It's going to be tough," quarterback Tom Brady said of replacing Weis. "Hopefully, we can regroup from the big loss, and we'll see how it turns out."

So far, vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli and head coach Bill Belichick have done a tremendous job of scouting, drafting and managing the salary cap. The cap casualties were replaced, and free agents brought in to fill a need have performed well.

"There is no coach in the NFL with better foresight than Bill," Weis said last Wednesday. "He's always a step ahead of people."

It was Belichick who asked receiver Troy Brown to also work at cornerback during training camp, and when both starting corners were lost because of injuries early in the season, it was Brown who filled in. Cornerback Hank Poteat was signed just before the Patriots' first playoff game and gave the team a solid effort.

"Different players, different guys," New England guard Joe Andruzzi said, describing the last two championships.

Belichick is also tough on game day, as the Eagles learned Sunday.

The Patriots came out in a 4-3 defense instead of their normal 3-4 and confused the Eagles with extra linebackers. The result basically shut down the Eagles' running game and put the game on the shoulders of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

And when backup tailback Kevin Faulk entered the game, the Pats held off on the usual screens designed for Faulk and instead confused the Eagles' defense by running a few draws to Faulk.

"The beauty of this team," kicker Adam Vinatieri said during Super Bowl Week, "is that different players step up at different times. You never know who it's going to be week to week. We have a bunch of guys who don't expect to be superstars but are expected to do their best every time."

And those guys aren't concerned about their place in history, because they're having too much fun making history.

By winning three Super Bowls in a four-year span, the New England Patriots are quickly moving toward the top of the list of most titles in the Super Bowl era. The Patriots trail only Dallas, San Francisco and Pittsburgh:


 

Franchise

Titles

Dallas Cowboys

5

San Francisco 49ers

5

Pittsburgh Steelers

4

Green Bay Packers

3

New England Patriots

3

Oakland/L.A. Raiders 3 Washington Redskins 3 Denver Broncos 2 Miami Dolphins 2 Seven teams with 1

Bradenton Herald | 02/08/2005 | Life is good

 

The real money players: Pats take less to win, while Milloy split
By Karen Guregian
Wednesday, February 9, 2005

 

``You can't feed your family off of Super Bowl rings.''
 

     - Former Patriots [stats, news] safety Lawyer Milloy [news]
 

     Talk about showing your true colors. Lawyer Milloy's little ditty during a recent interview on WEEI had to be one of the most ridiculous lines ever uttered by an athlete.
 

     But let's review the entire quote by the Bills safety, because it applies to one of the secrets of the Pats' success, and holds the key to their future.
 

     Milloy was offering his thoughts on the club's team-first mantra, saying it worked well for the organization but didn't exactly help individual players when it came to contracts and individual awards.
 

     ``Some of those guys, I think, are underpaid,'' said Milloy, who was cut by the Pats. ``It's always a team thing getting thrown around there, but if some of those guys would test the market, being a champion that they've been, they could really go out there and make top dollar. But, for some reason, they want to stay. And that's good.
 

     ``But the other part is (making sure) your family is stable after football is done. You can't feed your family off of Super Bowl rings.''
 

     It's not that his overall point isn't valid, but being a Patriot really doesn't seem to be hurting too many of his former teammates. Tedy Bruschi [news] negotiated his own contract. He didn't test the market to squeeze out every last nickel. He's content with what he received, even though it's less than what he might have gotten elsewhere.
 

     Let's just say it's not likely Bruschi and his family will be strapped for cash when he retires given his contract included a $3.5 million signing bonus, and salaries totaling $3.9 million for the 2005, '06 and '07 seasons.
 

     It just comes down to what makes you happy, and playing on a perennial contender, playing for a coach who's going to put you in a position to win, playing for a braintrust that's going to surround you with players who hold similar ideals, does the trick for Bruschi, along with many other Pats players like Willie McGinest [news] and Ted Johnson [news], who have repeatedly restructured their deals to remain in Foxboro.
 

     For those worried about Tom Brady [news], he may be friendly with Milloy, but listening to the Pats quarterback on a recent HBO special, it sure doesn't sound like he has the same values as his pal. Everyone knows he's underpaid, making roughly half of the $14 million Peyton Manning hauls in annually.
 

     When Bob Costas asked Brady about the difficulty in trying to help the team with salary cap issues but also knowing he should get what Manning gets, he didn't mention the need to feed his family.
 

     ``That not only goes with me, but with a bunch of other great players we have on this team,'' Brady said when asked about the contract dilemma. ``I think as an individual, as an individual on this team, you have to realize what makes you happy, what motivates you, what fulfills you, and if it's being the highest-paid player at your position, so be it. You might have to go somewhere else to get it. But if that's not what really motivates you, then you figure out what makes you happy and go from there.''
 

     Costas smartly followed with an observation, saying it sounded like Brady would rather stay in a winning situation and take a little less. He didn't respond in definitive agreement, but said just enough.
 

     ``Well, that's an individual decision,'' Brady said. ``I know what motivates me. At the end of the day, what I'm most proud of is where I'm at and who I'm with. You look around at the lockers of guys like Willie McGinest and Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison [news]. We have so many guys that you would go play on their team any day of the week.''
 

     And what do these players have in common beyond an incredible desire and passion to play football and win? They don't let the lure of a bigger paycheck somewhere else alter their idea of happiness

BostonHerald.com - Patriots: The real money players: Pats take less to win, while Milloy split

 

NFL Roundup: Bruschi glad to be at Pro Bowl

HONOLULU - After his long season culminated Sunday night with a third Super Bowl crown in four seasons, ex-Arizona Wildcat Tedy Bruschi still has enough gas in his tank to play one more game.

So the New England Patriots linebacker will strap it up for the AFC squad in Sunday's Pro Bowl.

It will be Bruschi's first appearance in the league's all-star game, and it never crossed his mind to beg out of the contest like so many others.

"You've got to respect the game," Bruschi said. "Being selected is an honor. I'm excited, but I think I'm a little drained, too. Emotionally and physically."

Bruschi flew back to New England after Super Bowl XXXIX and participated in a parade in Boston on Tuesday honoring the champs. He flew to Hawaii aboard team owner Robert Kraft's private jet, with other Patriots' Pro Bowlers.

Imagine the juxtaposition facing players from the Super Bowl teams. One week, the ultimate prize is at stake in the most intense game of the season. The next week, it's an exhibition contest so laid-back that by rule, blitzes are not allowed.

Over the years, it has not been uncommon for some Pro Bowlers to back out because of, well, a Super Bowl hangover.

"My first Super Bowl, we won and it was the climax of the season. I wanted to go back to Dallas and relax," recalled former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, a three-time Super Bowl winner and six-time Pro Bowl selection. "I told (agent) Leigh (Steinberg), 'I can't go to the Pro Bowl. I'm just whipped. It's been a long two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.'

"He said, 'It will look bad if you don't go to the Pro Bowl.' "

Aikman played in the 1993 Pro Bowl, but he left after the third quarter - without getting permission from coach George Seifert. Aikman was summoned to a meeting with Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and fined.

"Leigh was so worried about bad press if I didn't go to the Pro Bowl," Aikman said. "Well, after getting fined, how bad is that press? I didn't go after the other two (Super Bowl appearances)."

While 14 players have pulled out of Sunday's game, citing injuries, just three of the 16 Super Bowl participants (10 Eagles and six Patriots) selected won't play - New England running back Corey Dillon and defensive lineman Richard Seymour and Philadelphia receiver Terrell Owens.

Seymour (knee) and Owens (leg) were sidelined for six weeks before returning for the Super Bowl. After Dillon's season-ending physical, it was determined he would not play in the Pro Bowl. A groin injury ended his Super Bowl early.

NFL Roundup: Bruschi glad to be at Pro Bowl

Give Me a Bruschi Chew on This

 February 11, 2005

 Got game? Got class? Got Milk? Tedy Bruschi does.

In the great tradition of superstars bearing that infamous, frothing, two percent mustache, the New England Patriots star linebacker has become the latest dairy-diet poster boy -- a lineage that includes the mugs of American cultural icons Brett Favre and Tom Brady, Muhammad Ali and Mia Hamm, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Tony Hawk. Even the likes of Yasmine Bleeth, Martha Stewart, and Alex Trebek have graced the glossies in magazines over the decade since America's Dairy Farmers began enticing the fast food nation to choose cow over Coke.

But if anyone deserves the role, it's Tedy Bruschi: he's just about as wholesome as the stuff he's drinking.

You all saw the Super Bowl, so it bears little to mention that Bruschi gave an all-star performance in the Big Game. The Big Guy (6-1, 247-pounds), whom head coach Bill Belichick calls the heart and soul of the Pats defense, made seven tackles, had one 10-yard sack, and recorded his second career postseason interception midway through the fourth quarter to help New England seal its third world championship in four years.

What you might not have seen, though, was footage of Bruschi on the field before the game.

In a scene worthy of ESPN's Top-10, the event's most valuable papa plays with his two sons, Tedy Jr. and Rex, on the grass at Jacksonville's Alltel Stadium during the team's pregame warmup.

Tedy is jogging backwards, his young cubs trotting after him. Their legs must have been motoring at least 10 times faster than his, but he let them catch up, anyway. And, in form uncharacteristic of the All-Pro, Bruschi topples backwards to the field, only to have the pursuing toddlers pounce him. It was the last time he'd be on his back until hitting the training table after the game.

The shot was priceless, especially considering the thunderstorm of criticism the NFL and its broadcasting affiliates have taken since last year's nipple fiasco. Janet Jackson bears a boob, Randy Moss moons the crowd, Daunte Culpepper rescinds his "ice" -- the list is endless.

Jackson stole the show at last year's halftime with her stunt, but paid dearly in the press. Moss just got the boot from Minnesota, which finally realized its receiver is more cancer than catcher. And Culpepper took back two diamond necklaces he promised a terminally ill fan at a press conference.

Unlike his attention-whoring, money grubbing counterparts, however, Bruschi prefers to remain out of the limelight until it's his time to shine on the field. Five years ago, the unrestricted free agent signed a $2 million deal to continue playing for the Pats -- pittance by NFL standards. He probably could have gotten more elsewhere, but he chose New England because he's a winner who wanted to win.

He has in every way. Now he has three Super Bowl rings -- the only pieces of "ice" any pro player can really be proud to wear. He has a family, not a host of mistresses and illegitimate kids in every NFL city, as so many professional athletes do. Most importantly, he's got milk. "I look back in time where I sat back and drank milk to give me that extra edge," he told Sports Illustrated's Lisa Altobelli. "[Drinking milk] has put me in a position to fulfill a dream." At least most of us put it in our coffee.

Story LInk

 

Super Bowl XXXIX

Bruschi is the real leader on the Patriots




The Herald

 

In Boston, he's as beloved as Fenway. Paul Revere in cleats. In the same sentence as Williams and Yaz, Espo and Orr, Russell and Bird.

Can a legend really be this young?

Maybe you've heard of him. Surely, you've heard him. He's the one barking out signals and positioning his teammates. A Sports Illustrated cover boy. Salt-of-the-earth. Beloved by all.

Preaches team, team, team to anyone who'll listen. Says money doesn't matter. Believes every word of it.

His initials are T.B.

It's so obvious.

Tedy Bruschi.

More than golden-armed quarterback Tom Brady, more than coach Bill Belichick, this is the guy who makes the Patriots what they are. Champions.

Bruschi. Rhymes with brewski. Bruschi. Blue-collar all the way. Bruschi. A 31-year-old middle linebacker who will go to his first Pro Bowl this year only because Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens is hurt.

In the locker room and on the field. At press conferences and team meals. On charter flights and team buses. The Patriots follow Bruschi's lead. They do what they're told. They listen, and they learn.

They do all of that, and one more thing.

They win.

The Patriots have triumphed in two of the last three Super Bowls. A victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, and a dynasty is born.

Still, New England has been criticized for being too bland. Too boring. Too vanilla. Where's the sex appeal? The controversy? The R-rated promos and over-the-top end zone celebrations.

Where are the Neon Deions and guys nicknamed Refrigerator and Moose? Where are the Ickey Shuffles, Electric Slides and Lambeau Leaps?

Other than Brady, this a nameless, faceless assembly of interchangeable parts. Two starting defensive backs go down? No problem. Let's plug the hole with a wide receiver.

The 6-foot-1, 247-pound Bruschi is the epitome of versatility. He was a defensive lineman at Arizona before going to New England in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft. After being switched to linebacker, he says it took him years to master the position. Now he's the commander of one of the league's elite defenses. Bruschi had 128 tackles, 3½ sacks and three interceptions this season.

Forget about Bruschi's ferocious play on the field, and think about this: He doesn't have an agent. His contract was up after last season, so he negotiated a new one, agreeing to millions less than he could have made elsewhere. Don't think his teammates weren't paying attention.

"Tedy made the decision to stay here," said fellow middle linebacker Ted Johnson. "The guy chose to be here. And the guys that choose to be here every year are the guys who don't get tired of winning."

Winning. Bruschi likes that. He doesn't mind being called the guy who personifies the Pats, either.

"It's probably the biggest compliment that anyone can give me," he said earlier this week. "I'm not looking for individual accolades, I'm just worrying about how to win a football game."

Bruschi, it seems, always finds the path to victory - his teammates following every step of the way.

Bradenton Herald | 02/04/2005 | Bruschi is the real leader on the Patriots

 

This Week's Notes and Quotes

Though Brady plans to relax as much as possible this week, Tedy Bruschi and Larry Izzo both seemed thrilled by the extra week of work. Corey Dillon and Richard Seymour also were selected, but had to drop out due to injuries. Seymour, who has a minor knee injury, was replaced by Jacksonville's John Henderson on the AFC squad.

"I'm really going to cherish this experience, because it's the first time in nine years," said Bruschi, chosen for the squad when Baltimore's Ray Lewis dropped out. "It doesn't happen a lot, so coming out to the Pro Bowl is really an honor for me."

The Sun News | 02/10/2005 | Patriots parade into Pro Bowl

 

ON RAC:

Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi: "To lose a guy like that . . . it's going to hurt. It hurts me emotionally. I feel like I'm losing a friend."

 

 

 

Mannix Report Card

LINEBACKERS: A-
 

     An illegal contact penalty against Roman Phifer nullified an Asante Samuel [news] interception in the end zone in the first half. And Phifer was beaten on L.J. Smith's impressive touchdown reception. How many tight ends bounce off three players to get in position to make a catch like Smith did?

 

Mike Vrabel was Mr. Everything once again. He rushed the passer (cleaning up on a 16-yard sack after Colvin flushed McNabb). He made a juggling catch for a touchdown, his fifth as a pro, and came through with four tackles.
 

     After dumping cold water on the Eagles' offense with an interception, a sack and seven tackles, Pro Bowl linebacker Tedy Bruschi [news] (and isn't it about time he was called that) turned his attention on the coaching staff -- dousing two Belichicks (Bill and Steve) and then the departing Crennel with Gatorade showers once the outcome was decided.
 

     Because of the style of game, Ted Johnson [news] didn't see much playing time, but he seemed to make the tackle on every snap he took.

 

Milloy talks as in individual; Patriots talk as a team



Knight Ridder Newspapers

(KRT) - If you want to know the secret of the New England Patriots, consider safety Lawyer Milloy and linebacker Tedy Bruschi. Both are terrific football players. Both have helped the Patriots win a Super Bowl. But that is where their paths diverge. And that may be why Milloy is now a former Patriot, while Bruschi is basking in the glow of a third championship in four years.

Speaking with a Boston radio station last month, Milloy said of his ex-teammates: "Some of those guys, I think, are underpaid. It's always been a team thing getting thrown around there, but if some of those guys would test the market, being a champion that they've been, they could really go out there and make top dollar. But for some reason, they want to stay. And that's good. But the other part is (making sure) your family is stable after football is done. You can't feed your family off of Super Bowl rings."

Wow.

If that's the kind of poison Milloy, now in Buffalo, was peddling in the New England locker room, it's little wonder that Bill Belichick cut him right before the start of the 2003 season.

Compare this with Bruschi. Last summer, he was a year away from free agency. Coming off of a Super Bowl victory, and viewed as one of the keys to New England's defense, Bruschi stood to get a huge payday. Instead, representing himself, he went to Patriots management and took a four-year, $8 million extension.

Bruschi knows full well he probably left money on the table. He doesn't care.

"Certain things are more important to me," he said last week. "I think that the same things that I'm trying to do now are going to be the same things that I'm going to try to teach to my boys as they get older. Dignity and respect and being unselfish.

"I think it would be tough for me to teach that to them if I didn't live it myself. I don't want to be a father that's one of those guys that says, `Don't do as I do; do as I say.' I don't want to say that. I want to say, `This is how I did it, and I hope that you can learn and maybe draw from this example.' "

Let's get one thing straight: Milloy is, from an absolutist point of view, correct. Compared with others who have had less success, most of the Patriots' players are underpaid. Tom Brady, at $5 million this season, is making about one-seventh of the signing bonus Peyton Manning received in May.

But that's important only if you value people by how much money they make.

You can call it drinking the Patriots' Kool-Aid if you want. But Bruschi's attitude is central to understanding their success. Almost to a man, they believe the team transcends the individual.

"Believe me, I'm human also," Bruschi said. "And it's in the back of my mind: `You would have been a free agent after this year, Tedy. And having all this success and recognition now, maybe there's some things you could have done better. Maybe you could have done better on this.' But it's in the back of my mind. And I keep it in the back of my mind. That's where it belongs. Thoughts like that, telling yourself, `This is how much I'm worth. This is how much I want.' That's not the attitude I want to have. That's not the attitude I want to teach my kids.

"A lot of people can say, `I want to be a Patriot. This is where I want to be.' But will you do it? Will you do it when the time comes? That's what I live. I live it. I don't just talk about it."

Football is by far the most brutal team sport. So no sane person would argue for a minute that players are wrong for trying to get as much as they can while they can get it. But that choice has a cost. When a handful of guys make all the money, it's next to impossible for a team to succeed.

That team-first philosophy seems to be taking root throughout sports. The Detroit Pistons won a NBA championship last season with almost all of their key players making between $1 and $5 million, relative chump change in a league in which the average player makes more than $5 million. The Pistons won't give players maximum-dollar contracts, the most money allowed to players under the collective-bargaining agreement, because that leaves less money for other players.

Bruschi's relative sacrifice - he can probably feed his family on $2 million a year - likely allowed the Patriots to keep two or three other players who helped New England beat the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.

And the team's success eventually leads to individual recognition. Bruschi's mug has been plastered all over newspapers and magazines this week - he's the latest participant in the "Got Milk?" campaign.

And Bruschi is in Hawaii, taking part in his first Pro Bowl.

"He and a guy like Troy Brown are quintessential New England Patriots," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said of Bruschi.

"He came in and didn't need to get the top dollar. It's not like he did a bad job, now. But he wanted to be here ... he's part of the fabric of the team that's so special. He's such a great leader.

"It's part of this unselfish attitude that we get from our head coach and, I'd say, the majority of players on this team. It's something you dream about. In this age of `me, me, me' kind of players, players drawing attention to themselves, he's just a very special player. And the players follow him."

KRT Wire | 02/13/2005 | Milloy talks as in individual; Patriots talk as a team

Season of wish fulfillment goes on at Pro Bowl

HONOLULU -- They were both surprised that he was picked as a substitute player for the Pro Bowl.

 

But 13-year-old Kevin Mullen of Gaithersburg, Md., and 17-year-old Bryan Trevis of Struthers, Ohio, were psyched to meet their favorite NFL player, Tedy Bruschi, under the Hawaiian sun at Aloha Stadium Friday.

"I was surprised when he got to replace Ray Lewis," said Trevis, who has Friedrich's ataxia, a neuromuscular disease that has him using a wheelchair.

"I like the way he hits," said Mullen, who suffers from a form of lymphoma.

Mullen and Trevis, who made the trip to Honolulu courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, waited by the AFC locker room until the Patriots inside linebacker finished interviews on the field.

They managed to get plenty of autographs as players headed in, but the one they really wanted was Bruschi's.

As Bruschi finally ran a gauntlet of excited Make-A-Wish kids yelling and thrusting out items for him to sign, he was made aware of Trevis, whom he'd passed.

He doubled back to greet him, scrawled his name on a football and other materials, then returned a felt-tip pen to Trevis's hand. Advised that Mullen, standing near the locker room ramp, also wanted to meet him, Bruschi thrilled the boy with a warm greeting and a few autographs.

"This is part of the experience," said Bruschi, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl after nine seasons with the Patriots.

In a much-circulated photo last week, Bruschi was pictured frolicking with his sons, Tedy Jr. and Rex, during pregame warmups for the Super Bowl at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.

But Bruschi was not able to bring his family to Hawaii. His wife, Heidi, recently gave birth to their third son, so her traveling is limited.

"Of course you want your family here, but my son Dante is barely a month old," said Bruschi. "The Super Bowl was a long, hard trip for us, and we decided it was best for our family that our boys get back home and get back in their element."

Bruschi's Patriot teammates here -- Tom Brady, Adam Vinatieri, and Larry Izzo -- also spent time with the Make-A-Wish youngsters. Brady went to the locker room, dressed, and came out to meet each one of them.

"He was great, and such a gentleman," said Lee Henry-Chang, representing the Hawaii chapter of the foundation.

Young Nick Polvino of Colts Neck, N.J., wearing a Peyton Manning jersey, said he couldn't believe how "down to earth" Brady was.

"They make a lot of money and you expect them to be uptight," he said.

Brady's ever-present female admirers also were duly impressed.

"Tom Brady, I want to marry you!" called out one young woman from the stands.

"Tom, you are my hero!" yelled another.

Brady didn't respond; he was having too much fun on the field with his colleagues in the 80-degree weather.

After the intensity of last weekend's Super Bowl victory -- the Patriots' third in four years and second in a row -- Brady looked like a high schooler on the first day of varsity practice.

"I'm not too bad, I feel pretty good," said Brady, who took some solid hits from the Philadelphia Eagles' defense. "I'm a little tired but I'm excited to play."

He bounded while others limped, threw spirals back and forth with Manning, and laughed with some of the men who in the past few weeks had tried to deny him his third trip to the championship game.

"There's a lot of great players to come and have a lot of fun with here," he said

Boston.com / Sports / Football / Patriots / Season of wish fulfillment goes on at Pro Bowl

Patriots bask in afterglow

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

Super Bowl champions Tom Brady, Tedy Bruschi, Larry Izzo and Richard Seymour received an ultimate welcome fitting of the NFL's "ultimate team" yesterday at their first Pro Bowl practice at the Ihilani Resort.

The four New England Patriots arrived Tuesday night aboard owner Robert Kraft's private jet, and were greeted yesterday with much fanfare by AFC teammates after winning their third Super Bowl in four years.

Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri arrived earlier this week and missed the team's parade in Boston that drew nearly 1 million fans on Tuesday.

"There's always a lot of congratulations," said Brady, the team's quarterback on meeting his Pro Bowl teammates. "We kind of reminisce about the games we played. Especially the Steelers guys and the Colt guys. We had some hard-fought battles. Now we're on their team. It's going to be a lot of fun this week."

The NFL's annual all-star game will celebrate its 26th AFC-NFC Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The NFC won last year's game, 55-52, and ended the AFC's three-game winning streak.

Brady and his Patriots teammates will play on the AFC team coached by Pittsburgh's Bill Cowher. The NFC team, coached by Atlanta's Jim Mora Jr., also received a boost yesterday with the arrival of eight players from Super Bowl runner-up Philadelphia. Eagles free safety Brian Dawkins arrived earlier this week.

"It's tough to put the Super Bowl loss behind you in just a couple of days," Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "We're obviously trying to enjoy ourselves while we're here with the rest of the guys, and focus in when we leave here and what we need to get to (Super Bowl site) Detroit next year."

The Patriots won their second consecutive title by defeating the Eagles, 24-21, in Jacksonville on Sunday. Next season, they can become the first team to win three consecutive Super Bowls and the first to win four in five seasons.

Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour wore his commemorative Super Bowl T-shirt yesterday and said that everyone in the NFL wants what his team has.

"You have to go out and earn it," Seymour said of the Super Bowl. "That's the beauty about this game. It doesn't matter how much money you have, doesn't matter what type of car you drive, when you step out on that football field, you know it's about the work that you put in. I think we have the ultimate team.

"We're willing to sacrifice for the success of the team," said Seymour, who will sit out of the Pro Bowl because of a knee injury. "It drives the point home for the college kids and high school kids, you always want to play within the system. You don't have to try to be a superstar, just let it happen. That's what we do."

Buffalo outside linebacker Takeo Spikes said he was honored to play alongside the Super Bowl champions and called them an "inspiration."

"I'm trying to get to where they've been," Spikes said. "It's motivation just trying to be the best. If you don't have the (Super Bowl) ring, you can't walk with the swagger. If you can't walk with the swagger, now you're trying to find out how to walk with the swagger."

First-time Pro Bowler Bruschi said he didn't know what to expect in the all-star game, and told reporters he asked fellow inside linebacker Izzo, his three-time Pro Bowl teammate, for advice.

"I have no idea how it's going to be," said Bruschi, who was added to the AFC roster as a replacement for injured Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. "It was nice to get my feet wet out here, and see the tempo of practices. Once the game starts, it's only going to take me a couple of plays to get my rhythm."

Players on the winning team will each earn $35,000 (coaches get $15,000), while losing team members will each receive $17,500 (coaches get $10,000).

Patriots bask in afterglow - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper

Hawai'i trip perfect end of season for Bruschi

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi said coming out to Hawai'i "resetted my mind" after the Super Bowl, where the Patriots won their third title in four years.

"It helped a lot, it helped so much," he said. "There was a lot of pressure, AFC championship, Super Bowl. Super Bowl for two weeks. And we constantly were thinking about trying to be a world champion.

"To finally get it done and come out here and enjoy the beach and enjoy the weather, and enjoy the sun and the waves, it was something that really resetted my mind."

Hawai'i trip perfect end of season for Bruschi - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper

Hit by Bruschi Said to Cause McNabb's Breathing Problems



Philadelphia Inquirer
 

It was a hit by linebacker Tedy Bruschi that left quarterback Donovan McNabb gasping for air at a time when the Eagles were attempting to go into their hurry-up offense during their Super Bowl XXXIX loss to the New England Patriots.

According to two sources, McNabb said he was hit in the back by Bruschi as he fell forward during a broken play on which he unexpectedly received the snap from center Hank Fraley.

That play ended with 3 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in the game and the Eagles trailing, 24-14. After the play, the Eagles huddled and did not get their next play off until 2:55 remained, with seven seconds showing on the play clock.

McNabb, on a third-and-10 play, completed a first-down pass to Freddie Mitchell, then motioned for his teammates to quickly get up to the line of scrimmage. But as he was calling the play at the line, he began to gasp and had to motion his teammates back to the huddle, where video of the game clearly shows him violently coughing.

According to a team source, McNabb said he called the play in the huddle with hand signals. But 30 seconds elapsed between the first-down pass to Mitchell and the next play, a dropped pass by running back Brian Westbrook. That play could have resulted in a huge gain.

Though the 13-play drive ended with McNabb throwing a 30-yard touchdown pass to Greg Lewis that pulled the Eagles within three points, the game clock had just 1:48 remaining. The drive had started with 5:40 left.

With just two time-outs left after the touchdown, the Eagles opted to try an onside kick that was recovered by New England.

Had the Eagles gotten into the end zone 12 to 15 seconds before the two-minute warning, they almost certainly would have kicked the ball deep because they would have been able to stop the clock three times.

According to a team source, McNabb has been reluctant to talk about what happened on the Eagles' final touchdown drive because he does not want to sound as though he is making an excuse for the Eagles' Super Bowl loss.

KRT Wire | 02/27/2005 | Hit by Bruschi said to cause McNabb's breathing problems

Heroes with Heart

New England Patriots stars Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Corey
Dillon and Tedy Bruschi on football, fans and giving back.

January 2005 - On January 11, people of all ages and from different backgrounds came from all over New England to help the victims of the December tsunami. They shared one common bond — love for their New England Patriots.

In the wake of the recent tragedy in Asia, communities and organizations all over the world are making every effort to support the countries devastated by those fatal waters. In Worcester, over 3,000 Patriots’ fans converged on Rotmans Furniture Store to meet New England Patriots Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Corey Dillon and Tedy Bruschi. The players helped raise $4,000 for UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund) at the signing and charity auction organized by Paid Inc., a locally based company that works with sports collectibles and develops professional athlete web pages.

“Although $4,000 doesn’t seem like much,” Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said while he looked over his shoulder at the oversized check sitting on a stand behind him, “every little bit helps. Those people need so much more, but it’s great to be able to help and to see everyone who came out to help as well.”

Bruschi is one of the leaders on the New England squad and also a popular fan favorite. He had a tremendous regular season, racking up 122 tackles — second best on the team (behind Rodney Harrison’s 138) and tenth in the AFC.

Bruschi is known around the league for his hard work, discipline and competitive spirit. He plays to win, whether on the field at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro or in his backyard playing
a friendly pickup game.

“My competitive attitude doesn’t change,” he said with a smile. “Whenever I play my young sons in football, I go out to beat them, because it won’t be too long before they will be beating me.”

Bruschi is also very active in his community, working with the United Way and other organizations and charities. If you watch a lot of football games, you may have seen Bruschi in a recent United Way commercial, in which he received the Most Improved Player Award for his work in the community and math tutoring skills.

Like Bruschi, Patriots strong safety Rodney Harrison is a driving force behind New England’s success. He has been praised by his coach as being an extraordinary team leader, and he is respected by everyone he comes in contact with. For Harrison, playing football and the ability to help those in need are two extremely important gifts that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“Life is about giving back,” he said. “I think the tsunami really put things in perspective. We all have a duty to give back any way we can, whether it be financially or with our time and prayers, whatever we need to do.”


Harrison, a defensive captain for the Patriots, has a tough reputation around the league — some even say that he is dirty. But he doesn’t seem to mind, interchanging the words ‘tough,’ ‘rough’ and ‘dirty’ when discussing the reputation he has among his peers. Without argument or concern about what others think of his style of play, Harrison uses it all to his advantage on the field. “Intimidation is a big part of the game,” he said. “Having other players know that you are physical and aggressive makes you more of a player to be watched. It helps from a mental standpoint, whether it causes a receiver to drop a ball or a quarterback to throw an interception, it works to your advantage.” Harrison, who has been playing football since he was six years old, believes that his ability to play this sport is an honor and a privilege.“God gave us the opportunity to play in the NFL and every day is a gift. My motto is to play every play like it is the last play. My motivation to go out there is to display the talents God gave me and to have fun. I love this game.”

The signing with the four players took place four days before the Patriots defended their Super Bowl title in the second round of the playoffs against AFC Conference rival Indianapolis Colts. Fans were dressed in jerseys, many with red, white and blue face paint. They greeted the players one by one with well wishes for a third trip to the Super Bowl in four years.

“Give ‘em hell,” said one fan as he passed by defensive end Richard Seymour. Seymour smiled and said he would. The humble player, however, believes that his work on the field is only the beginning. “Football is only part of what
we do, it is not who we are,” he said, agreeing that he and other athletes have a duty to serve as role models for young fans. “Anytime you can give back to people who need it is great,” said Seymour. “Life is about how you can help others and bring others up in their time of need. It brings joy to my heart when I can see the joy that people may have by something we can do.”

This season, Seymour earned his third consecutive invitation to the NFL Pro Bowl on February 13, where he will join teammates quarterback Tom Brady and kicker Adam Vinatieri for the game in Honolulu, Hawaii. In just his fourth season in the league, he already has two Super Bowl rings. But Big Sey (a nickname adopted by fans) ultimately wants to be in the Hall of Fame.

“My ultimate goal is to be a Hall of Famer,” he said. “I’m not where I want to be yet, so I still have work to do. I know I have the potential to get there, but it will just take more hard work.”

According to Harrison, this kind of attitude is an example of what separates a good player from a great player. “A great player is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty and is willing to make sacrifices. A good player does what is necessary, which is not always the bare minimum, but just enough to get the job done.”

Harrison and his teammates are all examples of great players, especially Patriots running back Corey Dillon, who is
new to the team this year after coming over from the Cincinnati Bengals. “As soon as I got here in New England,
the fans welcomed me with open arms,” said a cheerful Dillon. “New England is filled with diehard fans who love their Pats. Whether rain, snow, typhoon, whatever, they’re out there cheering. These people are great. I love them.”

On the first day of Patriots training camp this summer, every time Dillon touched the ball the crowd would cheer, showing their appreciation for the player whose teammates call “the new guy” and even “the rookie” despite his eight years of experience in the NFL. Dillon’s fame in New England is well deserved. In his first season with the Patriots, he broke the regular season rushing record, setting the new bar at 1,635 yards and strengthening the running game for the franchise.

After the overwhelming support he has received from the New England community, Dillon is sure to give back to others. “It feels good to be able to help because this is a good cause,” he said about the charity auction.
“The tsunami was such a tragedy and I think everyone in the world is trying to reach out to the people who lost family and friends in the disaster, so it’s great that the proceeds go to this and it’s a tremendous thing to be
here.”

All the proceeds from the silent auction, which featured autographed memorabilia from the World Champion Boston Red Sox, World Champion New England Patriots and other prestigious athletes, were donated to UNICEF. Paid, Inc. Special Events Coordinator Kevin Gniadek said that many other organizations have benefited from similar auctions, including the Worcester Food Bank, the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, D.A.R.E. America, the Matt Light Foundation and the Worcester Sports Council. He also said that the company has donated tens of thousands of dollars to charitable organizations, but this year’s goal is to raise $100,000. “Anytime you can get the community together to raise money for a good cause… it’s nothing less than exceptional,” Gniadek said, echoing the words of Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Corey Dillon and Tedy Bruschi. For Patriots fans, there’s nothing better than meeting some of the NFL’s most elite athletes. For the tsunami survivors, every little bit helps. No one could have asked for a better solution to help remedy a global heartbreak.

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