December 04, 2002
Previous Outcome Doesn't Mean Much
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
FOXBORO, MA -- In week 3 the Miami Dolphins blew out the New York Jets 30-3, only to come back to New York and lose to them in week 10 by a score of 13-10.
Like a doubleheader in baseball, what a team does the game before doesn't mean a whole lot. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is obviously aware of that fact and will likely spend the week trying to make sure his players realize that as well. His team currently finds themselves tied for first place with four games left, and three of those games are divisional battles, the first of which will begin with Drew Bledsoe and the Buffalo Bills visiting Gillette Stadium this Sunday. It will be Bledsoe's first visit to Foxboro as a member of the Bills, and the 38-7 loss to his former team five weeks ago is likely still fresh in his mind.
Needless to say when he takes the field at the stadium he helped make a reality, he'll be trying to keep his new team in playoff contention, while trying to put his old team's playoff hopes in doubt.
"I would say there is a lot at stake for this game," Belichick told the media on Wednesday. "There always is with division games. In the end, everybody has got to step up and hopefully we're in position to do that."
"It's like the double headers in baseball. You play one game it's 11-10 and the next game it's 2-1. We don't have any expectations about how the game is going to go other than we expect Buffalo to do what they do, which is run the ball, and make big plays in the passing game."
"We're not really too concerned about how the last one came out. We're more concerned about preparing for this one and looking at the things that Buffalo has changed or done different since we played them one month ago. I think we saw a lot of those things come forward in the Miami game on Sunday where they probably played as well as they have all year."
In Sunday's game against the Dolphins Bledsoe played well, finishing 15-of-27 for 306-yards and three touchdowns. Bills runningback Travis Henry rushed for 151-yards on 35-carries (4.3 avg) and also ran for a touchdown, while wide receiver Eric Moulds had a big afternoon with five catches for 130-yards and a touchdown grab. Wideout Peerless Price also had two catches, one of which was a 73-yard touchdown.
Throughout most of the season those players have been an explosive group, with Buffalo averaging 26.3 points per game which has them currently ranked 3rd in the AFC, averaging one point more than New England who is ranked 4th with 25.3.
However in their last meeting Belichick did what he's always done well against Bledsoe and that was coming up with a defensive scheme to confuse both he and the rest of the Bills offense and taking them out of their offensive gameplan. Against the Bills defense they ran runningback screens with unbelievable success with both Antowain Smith and Kevin Faulk totaling 95-yards receiving along with three receiving touchdowns. As for Buffalo Henry was held to just 53-yards on 11-carries while Moulds was kept in check with just 5 receptions for 68-yards.
To make matters worse after their meeting against the Patriots the Bills lost two in a row, but unlike in years past playing against Belichick and his defensive schemes hasn't yet delivered the knockout blow to a Bledsoe-run offense. They executed well in blizzard-like conditions against Miami on Sunday and are back to playing good football again.
"I think you watch him play and his play speaks for itself," Brady told reporters when asked about Bledsoe's play as of late. "He's playing good ball and he's leading that team well. We got a good piece of him last time, and I think we were all pleased with that outcome. We're expecting their best game, and they're a divisional opponent, we know them well, we only played them four weeks ago."
But for now they'll need to forget about how the last game went. With four games left in their 2002 season, the divisional games will play a key role in whether or not they're able to earn a spot in the postseason, which only makes Sunday's game that much more important.
"We're expecting another tough battle like it usually is in this division," said Belichick. "We've got to be ready for anything there. We just know we're going to get a tough football game."
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