By: Ian Logue/
November 03, 2002

No Brady or Gronk, but plenty of storylines at Patriots OTAs
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski not at the start of the team's OTA's today
NFL notes: Don't be surprised if Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers rise up for Patriots
New Patriots DL Danny Shelton preps to hit the hill
Patriots center David Andrews excited with his new Georgia Bulldog teammates

ORCHARD PARK, NY -- There was certainly nothing flashy about Sunday's win over the Buffalo Bills.

There were no deep balls thrown, or any trick plays run.  There was simply a well executed game plan that by the time the game ended just happened to be a 38-7 blowout.

That's just the type of game plan that Patriots fans have missed.

Quarterback Tom Brady (23-of-27 for 310-yards and 4 TD's) returned to what he did best, and that was finding Antowain Smith (5 catches for 31-yards and two TD's receiving) and Kevin Faulk (2 catches for 64-yards and a TD) on screen passes, along with wide receiver screens and other short routes that allowed them to methodically move the football up and down the field against Bledsoe and the Bills all afternoon.  They also balanced it out by handing the ball to Smith who rushed 29-times for 111-yards and a touchdown.

In the end they piled up 422 net-yards on offense and steam rolled Buffalo, holding the ball for 34:18 compared to the Bills who had the ball just 25:42.  They converted 8-of-12 on third down and punted the football away just once all afternoon.

It was the type of day the Patriots have been searching for over the last month, and head coach Bill Belichick said after the game he was proud of his team and happy they were finally able to get a victory.

"The team had lost four in a row and a lot has come down on them," said Belichick after Sunday's game.  "I think it was a good feeling for all of us in that locker room that have worked hard, that have tried to correct things and there has been some frustration because it hasn't gone our way the last few weeks.  I am happy for the team and I am happy for everybody that has worked so hard."

"Even when not many people believed in us other than the people in [the locker room] they kept plugging away and kept trying to do the things they needed to do. I was happy that it came out for them that way today. They deserve it."

New England had been outscored 51-10 in the first half over the past three games, and the emphasis coming into the game had been on getting off to a fast start.  The Patriots were able to do just that, scoring a touchdown on their opening possession and taking a 17-7 lead into the locker room at the half. Prior to Sunday's game New England had only lead at the intermission twice this season, the last time coming in week 2 at the Meadowlands against the Jets.

"We've gotten off to a slow start the last three weeks," said Belichick. "We've been outscored 51-10 or whatever it was in the first half of the last three games. It's certainly a lot easier to control the game when you have the lead."

"I'm not saying you win it at half-time, because that is not the case. But when you can run and throw and do the things you want to do on offense and defensively, there is a point in time where they just can't run their offense."

"They've got to catch up a little bit. It just changes the game."


Tight End Daniel Graham returned to action on Sunday and caught three balls for 68-yards.  Graham had been recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered back in week four against San Diego.....Belichick told reporters that former Pats QB Drew Bledsoe came up and exchanged pleasantries with him after the game.  "I never thought that Drew was anything but a class player and class person, and he did [search me out at the end of the game]," said Belichick. "He said something to me after the game and I really appreciate it. I feel that same way about him, really. He's a hell of a football player.".....After showing up out of shape to training camp and with all the talk of Jamal Anderson coming to Foxboro it had appeared that Antowain Smith may have fallen out of Belichick's good graces.  Apparently not.  "Antowain works hard on everything, he really does," said Belichick when asked about Smith after the game. "He works hard on his blitz pickups. He works hard catching the ball and he works hard running. I just couldn't say enough good things about Antowain. I could sit here and talk about him all day. He's just such a pleasure to coach. He's a model guy. He's a great worker and a great team player.  He's a guy I have a lot of admiration for. Like I said, I'm just glad we've got him."......Inactives for Sunday's game Rohan Davey, Jimmy Hitchcock, Larry Izzo, Grey Ruegamer, Tom Ashworth, Donald Hayes, and Bernard Holsey.