By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
December 11, 2005

Buckley: Year after year, Gil Santos delivered
Bill Belichick pays tribute to Patriots Hall of Fame broadcaster Gil Santos
Bill Belichick pays tribute to the late Gil Santos
Tight end Troy Niklas’ “crazy” story makes him a Patriot and a father, too
Patriots notebook: Season starts with Houston at Foxboro

Answers. That's what we want this time of year.

And on Sunday, we got a few. The Steelers rose up off the canvas and the Colts proved they have no equals. But the scariest development for the rest of the candidates looking to be the Colts' AFC Championship dancing partner has to be the sudden rise of the two-time defending champions.

If memory serves me correct, the last time we saw Tom Brady dance as bad as he did at the end of the Sunday's game was during an annual City Hall Plaza Super Bowl victory rally a few years back. It's safe to say that Brady wasn't doing a jig after getting trounced earlier this year against the Chargers, Broncos or Chiefs. The return of confidence and swagger in the NFL can come in many different forms. Maybe after an upset over an overwhelming favorite. Or perhaps even in the form of victories against mediocre teams such as the Dolphins, Saints, Jets and Bills.

What matters is that you have it. And now, the Patriots do.

Suddenly, the Patriots season has started anew after thirteen roller coaster, maddening weeks. The offense is beginning to look like its old, clutch self. And wouldn't you know --perhaps as a result of that offense playing more consistently â€" a maligned defense isn't looking all that bad after all?

I've got a question for you. Define an interesting, enjoyable season for your NFL team? My answer is "Making the games in weeks that end with a ‘-teen' actually mean something.” Members of Patriot Nation have enjoyed an unprecedented run of such relevance over the past eleven years and this year will be no different. They may not have anything for the Colts when they get there but it is looking more and more as if the Patriots are gaining the swagger and production of a deep playoff team.

Okay, maybe I got a little drunk on egg nog while watching the 35-7 thrashing of the Bills. The boys from Buffalo didn't put up much of a fight in this one. But the Pats took advantage of a bad team in disarray while correcting a lot of areas that have killed them earlier in the season.

It's a list as long as Santa's, but here it is:

The Bills rushed 12 times for a whopping 14 yards. The longest Buffalo run of the afternoon was a 7-yard J.P. Losman hair-on-fire special.

Tom Brady found eight different receivers to connect with during the game.

Kevin Faulk (intangibles, intangibles, intangibles - that's what he brings to the table, my friends) is back and pulling his magic act on third down. The team went 11-16 (69%) on third down.

Clock-killin' Corey Dillon is getting his sea legs back just in time for the bad weather and the good teams. Dillon had 102 yards on 22 carries.

A franchise-record 32 first downs and a 42 minute to 18 minute time-of-possession advantage.

A cute 4 for 5 conversion rate in the red zone.

And the cherry on top? How about a Tedy Bruschi tip of a Losman pass and a interception return for a touchdown? It's been so long since we've seen one of those around here that I was on the verge of calling the milk carton folks.

Okay, maybe you're right. Maybe I'm extending my subscription once again to Hyperbole Weekly. Or perhaps I'm not.

Whatever the outcome, we are going to get a pretty good gauge this coming Saturday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to Foxboro. The truth is we have no idea just how good this Bucs team is. We've been subjected to perhaps one or two of their games this year and have no body of evidence to suggest that a rookie tailback (Cadillac Williams) and a second year quarterback (Chris Simms) can come up here into the champs' house late in the year and beat them in a big game for both teams.

Richard Seymour will have nothing to complain about come game time Saturday. Gillette Stadium will be loud at all the right spots. Sure, the Foxboro Faithful have become soft during Chinese water torture games against the Jets. But when there's a game that matters, they always bring the fastball up and in. Especially in the cold of December and January.

The only assurance that we do have is that Saturday's tilt is going to be a "I'll go get the Christmas tree tomorrow, honey. I have got to watch this one,” kind of game.

And at this time of year, I'll take that faster than a scallop wrapped in bacon off a waiter's tray at a snooty holiday party.

Idle Zinger thoughts while secretly hoping that someone would wise up and do a hip-hop version of the Oak Ridge Boys' "Elvira”:

Separated at birth: Actor Adam Sandler and Bills QB J.P. Losman.

Still not to late to book me for your office's holiday party. I come cheap. I'll work the room for the above-mentioned scallops in bacon and big fat bowl of those huge shrimp.

ABC is leaving the NFL after this season. As a way of thanking the League for its years of covering Monday Night Football, the network will send Ty and the crew to Phoenix for "Extreme Makeover: Arizona Cardinals” early in 2006.

Would you believe that the only NFL team Penn State's Joe Paterno ever considered coaching was the Patriots in the early 1970s?

Who designed those Virginia Tech uniforms? The same people who brought us the Jon Casey Amazing Technicolor Five Hole? (Editor's note: That was an old Kevin Dupont-inspired Bruins phrase. The Bruins were a hockey franchise that used to play in Boston years ago.)

You can take "Old Yeller.” But I well up every time I watch "Brian's Song.” If you don't, you either have no soul or are a Yankees fan.

This column also appears in the American Journal (Westbrook/Gorham, Maine), the Current (Scarborough/Cape Elizabeth/South Portland, Maine), the Lakes Region Suburban Weekly (Windham/Naples, Maine), the Citizen (Sacopee Valley, Maine), the Reporter (Waterboro/Hollis, Maine), the Sun Chronicle (Saco/Old Orchard Beach, Maine), and online at (Belfast, Camden, Rockland, Maine).