View Full Version : Bledsoe, Toughness, comeback wins
Bledsoe comes through again, lifts Patriots to last-second win over Bills
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Posted: Monday November 30, 1998 01:37 AM
Flair for the dramatic: An interference call in the end zone allowed Drew Bledsoe to connect with Ben Coates for the winning score AP
FOXBORO, Massachusetts (AP) -- For the second time in six days, Drew Bledsoe flipped the winning touchdown pass with a fractured finger and kept the Patriots in the thick of the playoff race.
With no time but one play left after a defensive pass interference call in the end zone against Henry Jones, Bledsoe threw a 1-yard pass to Ben Coates, and New England beat the Buffalo Bills 25-21 Sunday.
The weird finish ended on a strange note when kicker Adam Vinatieri ran for the two-point conversion with no opposition after the Bills had left the field.
The win moved the Patriots (7-5) into a tie with the Bills, one game behind the New York Jets in the AFC East, as Buffalo lost for just the second time in nine games. And Bledsoe ruined Doug Flutie's homecoming in a stadium where he had been 10-0.
Flutie, the former Boston College star, threw for an NFL career-high 339 yards and two touchdowns, the last a 2-yarder to Andre Reed that gave Buffalo a 21-17 lead with 6:14 left. New England got the ball for the last time at its own 18-yard line with 1:52 and no timeouts left. Doug almost did it: Flutie (7) brought the Bills back from a 14-0 deficit to a 21-17 fouth-quarter lead AP
On Monday night, Bledsoe had fractured his right index finger during the drive that gave the Patriots a 26-23 win over Miami on his 25-yard pass to Shawn Jefferson wiith 29 seconds left.
Playing with a splint on his finger, Bledsoe faced a fourth-and-9 at the Buffalo 36 with 11 seconds to go. He came through with a 10-yard completion to Jefferson, who dragged his feet just in bounds. Then, with six seconds remaining, Bledsoe lofted the ball into a crowd in the left corner of the end zone, where Jones interfered with Terry Glenn, putting the ball at the 1.
Then Bledsoe, with linebacker Sam Rogers applying pressure, threw into the deep right corner of the end zone, where Coates had gotten behind Marlo Perry.
As the officials raised both hands, signifying a touchdown, Bledsoe ran toward the Patriots locker room at the other end of the field, raising his injured finger.
Bledsoe finished with 28 completions in 43 attempts for 246 yards and three touchdowns. Dialing long distance: Trailing 14-6 at halftime, the Bills closed the gap with an 84-yard TD pass to Eric Moulds (80) AP
Until that drive, Flutie had worked his magic again, bringing the Bills back from a 14-0 deficit to a 21-17 lead with the help of Steve Christie's three field goals. They took that lead on a 14-play, 67-yard drive lasting 8:28.
Some fans wore replicas of Flutie's No. 2 jersey from his days with the Patriots from 1987 through 1989.
Bledsoe led the Patriots on a 66-yard march capped by his 2-yard touchdown pass to Robert Edwards for a 7-0 lead 5:16 into the second quarter. Bledsoe went 4-for-4 for 62 yards plus a pass interference that put the ball at the Buffalo 1.
He was 5-for-6 for 44 yards on the Patriots next series. This time, he connected on a 12-yard scoring pass to Derrick Cullors for a 14-0 lead.
Trailing 14-6 at halftime, the Bills closed to within two points on an 84-yard connection with Eric Moulds, who ran the last 65 yards.
Patriots' Bledsoe may be out for season
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Posted: Friday December 18, 1998 06:51 PM
Bledsoe has only practiced twice since fracturing his finger on November 23 AP
FOXBORO, Massachusetts (AP) -- The New England Patriots may have to complete their push for the playoffs without Drew Bledsoe. The quarterback's fractured right index finger may end his season.
Bledsoe, already declared out of Sunday's game against San Francisco, said Friday he's not optimistic about playing the following Sunday in the season finale against the New York Jets.
"We'll see [about the playoffs], Bledsoe said. "I would hope so. ... but it's really a matter that's going to be left up to our medical staff."
Coach Pete Carroll wasn't hopeful that Bledsoe would be available for the Jets game.
"He may be able to just go gut it out and do it again," Carroll said. "But right now, it's not really going to repair in that amount of time.
"It's not just like a bruise or something. It's a broken bone and it's going to be difficult for him to play next week."
Bledsoe broke the finger when he hit an opponent as he followed through on a pass during the winning drive late in the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins. He played the next three games -- wins over Buffalo and Pittsburgh before a 32-18 loss to St. Louis in which he had trouble controlling his passes.
Bledsoe's current streak of 58 consecutive starts is the longest of any AFC quarterback. Scott Zolak will start in his place Sunday as the Patriots (8-6) can clinch a playoff berth by beating San Francisco (11-3) while Tennessee loses to Green Bay.
Carroll wouldn't comment about whether he would rest Bledsoe against the Jets if the Patriots clinch a spot Sunday.
To play against the Jets, Bledsoe probably would have to practice Thursday. He has only practiced twice since fracturing his finger on November 23.
"A veteran quarterback can go a week or two weeks without practice," Bledsoe said. "But I've only had two practices in a month. If I'm going to play, I need to practice."
For now, New England hopes to ease the burden on Zolak with a strong ground game.
"It's very important that we get a running game going," Carroll said. "We have to have a balanced approach or it puts too much pressure on the passing game and on Scott in his first game.
"It's not different than how we approach it every week, but we better be effective in our running game. We need to be."
The Patriots have struggled with their running game all season. Against St. Louis, rookie Robert Edwards gained 196 yards on 24 carries but was stopped three times from the 1-yard line in the third quarter.
Saints DTs Norman Hand and La’Roi Glover feed off each other, and in turn, make a feast of the opposition
By Ricky Zeller
As published in print March 5, 2001
METAIRIE, La. — For two long seasons, an undersized La’Roi Glover handled the dirty work in the middle of the Saints’ defense with no complaints. But in 2000, a much-needed partner in grime arrived via free agency in the form of 320-pound Norman Hand, and the duo has emerged as one of the NFL’s best DT tandems.
With a helping Hand clogging the middle and serving as his oversized bodyguard, Glover was set free. Free of the double-teams he endured on almost every snap at nose tackle in 1998 and ’99, of sneaky running backs constantly diving at his legs, of holding up the interior of the Saints’ defense with his sculpted 280 pounds.
Glover thrived with this newfound freedom. He led the NFL with 17 sacks, was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week a league-record three times and was voted to his first Pro Bowl. Glover also was the runner-up to Ravens LB Ray Lewis in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year balloting.
Suddenly, big-time defense was back in business in New Orleans under the guidance of first-year head coach Jim Haslett. Led by Glover’s sack explosion, the surprising Saints went 10-6, clinched the NFC West title and won the first playoff game in franchise history.
"It was a great year," Glover said. "All of the individual things weren’t my focus, but it’s nice. The winning has meant more than anything."
And though Glover may have been the Saints’ MVP, Hand likely ranked as the club’s most indispensable player. His impact can’t be judged solely by his statistics, though he did have a career-high 65 tackles to go along with three sacks.
Hand’s ability to eat up space and stuff the run — duties that rarely create headlines or win honors — allowed his mates up front to rush the passer with abandon.
In addition to Glover’s league-leading sack total, DE Joe Johnson recorded 12 sacks and was the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year. Fellow DE Darren Howard had 11 sacks and was a consensus All-Rookie selection. They all credit Hand — known around the locker room as "Heavy Lunch" — for usually having a lone blocker in their path on the way to the quarterback.
"Without Norman, our front four couldn’t have performed like we did," Saints DL coach Sam Clancy said. "He covers all those guys and lets them squeeze the pocket. I think we proved we were the best defensive line in the league this year."
It all started inside. Glover and Hand realized before training camp that they had the potential to be special. Not long after signing a five-year, $20 million deal to join the Saints, Hand made a play in an offseason drill that immediately caught Glover’s attention.
"In our first minicamp, Norman chased down (Saints QB) Jeff Blake on a rollout," Glover said. "That showed how fast he could move from sideline to sideline, and I knew then that he wasn’t just a big guy. When I saw that, I knew we’d have something."
Even while miscast as a run-plugging mauler the previous two seasons, Glover established himself as one of the NFL’s best interior linemen. Though he usually surrenders a few pounds to offensive linemen, Glover posted a team-high 18˝ sacks over that span and was voted an alternate to the Pro Bowl both years.
But it was Hand’s arrival that allowed Glover’s combination of energy, strength and quickness to blossom. Hand’s overwhelming bulk allows him to eliminate running lanes without really moving, and he’s strong enough to toss around a couple of blockers. Opponents were forced to choose which defensive tackle to double, and the big guy didn’t make the decision too difficult.
"It’s hard not to double a guy who is 320," said Haslett, though Glover was given plenty of extra attention as well late in the season.
With Hand watching his back, Glover was able to free-lance while rushing the quarterback. He could use his speed and instincts to attack and create havoc, rather than spend the majority of his time fighting through traffic.
"Norman forces two people to block him, which obviously frees La’Roi up some," Saints defensive coordinator Ron Zook said. "But La’Roi accomplished a lot because of his work ethic and motivation. We thought they would be a good combination, but I don’t think anybody expected Glover to get 17 sacks. That has a lot to do with his motor."
Glover is the Saints’ strongest player, routinely bench-pressing more than 500 pounds. And at 6-foot-2, he has built-in leverage against taller offensive linemen. That was never more apparent than against Chicago in Week Six, when Glover drove mammoth Bears OT James "Big Cat" Williams into the backfield and dumped QB Cade McNown to the soggy Soldier Field turf for his third sack of the day.
"That play in particular won La’Roi a lot of respect around here," Hand said. "I know how strong La’Roi is, but to move a guy that is something like 370 pounds in pads is hard to forget. Big Cat is like 6-foot-7, and La’Roi looked like a little doll baby next to him. But he just pushed him around and got to the quarterback."
Glover is a rare playmaker at defensive tackle. But the Saints’ defense wouldn’t have been nearly as tough with two La’Rois up front. Hand supplied the brute force the Saints lacked in the trenches for the last few years, and the two tackles complement each other’s talents.
"If we had two guys like La’Roi, we’d have both gaps in the middle wide open," Clancy said. "Having a guy like Norman in there makes all the difference. That’s his value. And he still gets some push back there."
Indeed, Hand supplied more of a pass rush than even the Saints expected. And when he was bothered by injuries to both feet late in the season, the Saints’ run defense suffered. Glover is one of the few players who can appreciate everything Hand has brought to the Saints because Glover himself played the position.
"Norman has brought a lot to the table," Glover said. "He’s a guy who goes out there and does his job and doesn’t complain. It’s going to take two or three guys to block him. If you try to block him one-on-one, he’s going to end up in the backfield."
Interestingly enough, both players took the long road to NFL success. Hand was released by Miami before developing into an inside force with the Chargers.
Glover, originally a fifth-round pick by the Raiders in ’96, spent a season in NFL Europe before the Saints claimed him off waivers the next year.
Now they both play for huge contracts, are recognized as being among the league’s best at their positions and were a big part of Haslett’s success in his first year. But neither takes anything for granted.
"I always watched Glover on film when I was in San Diego, and I knew I wanted to play with him," Hand said. "I never knew he was this good. In the minicamps, we kept working with each other and pushing to get better because talent doesn’t always get the job done. And once we put on the pads, nothing changed."
Both players released - Glover is a beast
09-15-2005, 02:33 PM
Wiley brings his 'A game' to Big D
Last season, the Cowboys owned the league's best defense. This year they aim to keep it that way with help from Marcellus Wiley, acquired from San Diego in the offseason. Wiley spoke with host Rich Eisen and analyst Lincoln Kennedy on NFL Total Access via Cowboys cam to discuss the team's progress during camp and his first season under coach Bill Parcells. NFL Total Access airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET/PT (aired Aug. 19, 2004).
Rich Eisen: And there's Marcellus Wiley on Cowboys cam. How you doing Marcellus?
Marcellus Wiley: Hey man! How you doing Rich and Lincoln? I'm doing well out here.
Eisen: Oh good. Thanks for joining us, as always. Now Marcellus, when Lincoln Kennedy came on board recently, I asked him off camera once, who was the toughest guy he faced when he was with the Raiders in his career. … Want to tell him what you told me?
Lincoln Kennedy: I told him this man that we're talking to right here. No doubt about it. Mr. Wiley. "Dat Dude" as they've been calling him.
Wiley: (laughing) Man, that's a big compliment coming from you, Lincoln. Much respect for you on the field and obviously now off the field. You're doing something and it looks good man. Thanks for that.
Kennedy: I tell you what, Marcellus, I was so impressed with you when you first came to Buffalo, when we went out there and played you guys. I was so impressed, and honestly, I feared the day when you came to San Diego because I knew I was going to have to play against you two times a year. And not only did I tell Rich when we talked about it, I said, "He was the type of player that I had to bring my 'A game' to every time because I knew he was coming after me." How you doing?
Wiley: I'm doing well. I'm out here with Dallas now trying to bring the "A game" to this situation, learn everything on the fly, but it's going well. And I do remember those days in San Diego when I used to circle in the offseason when we had to play you guys because that was my inspiration to get one more rep out of all my bench presses.
Kennedy: There you go.
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Eisen: Well, now you got to face the Raiders this weekend. You're going to an old stopping ground with which you're quite familiar, no doubt about that. What are your thoughts about this team that didn't really fare very well in preseason game No. 1, Marcellus?
Wiley: We have to go out there and show a better attitude and play up-tempo because like last week, it seemed like we got caught sleeping and they came out and game-planned us and executed very well. Pretty much they had us at their mercy, so even though it's preseason, you still want to go out there and make a statement. And this week is a good week to do that.
Kennedy: Marcellus, you're coming to last year's top-ranked defense and you're a welcome addition as far as the sack. How are you going to get some productivity out of not only your end spot, but out of the other end spot this season?
Wiley: We switch sides. I'm playing left side, which I played the last few years, and Greg Ellis is going to the right side, which he's secretly been desiring for a while. He's happy about that and we still have La'Roi Glover in the middle with Leo Carson. We have a rotation of a couple other ends and tackles we're going to work in because in the Texas heat you have to stay fresh in the fourth quarter. And I just think right now it's just about intensity and attitude. We obviously know the talent's there where we could be No. 1 if we work hard. So it's just about having that mindset.
Eisen: We spoke to you in minicamps about getting used to the Parcells regiment and this is your first training camp with Bill Parcells. Your thoughts?
Wiley: It's tough. He definitely toughens you mentally. He's always challenging you. He just keeps you at a pace where you're always trying to get better and you're always cognizant of him being around. It's different. My father calls me sometimes and he asks me all the time about Parcells and what he's heard on talk radio. I just tell him, "Hey daddy, right now I'm just taking it one step at a time and I'm staying focused." Because coach Parcells, he doesn't miss a beat. It doesn't matter where you are on the practice field. You could be tying your shoes, he'll see you out of the back of his eyes, the side of his eyes, I don't know how he does it, but the guy's aware of everything about this team.
Eisen: How's Eddie George meshing into the program?
Wiley: He's doing well. You know he's a big back and we're looking forward to him getting a lot of touches, a lot of carries this year. Especially on the side where Larry Allen and Flozell Adams, that's a lot of load. And then you add Jamar (Martin), our fullback and then Eddie comes in. That's a lot of beef for opponents to face for four quarters, so he's looking good out there on practice.
Kennedy: Speaking of your offensive line, Marcellus, how's the other side, the right side, faring, and the center in the mix? Are they coming along well? What is your impression of them as a unit?
Wiley: They are coming along. Obviously we have a rookie who's going to fight for his starting position and Jacob (Rogers) is looking good. He's probably the best technician of the three, and I think when he gets comfortable and starts to say, "Hey, this is not me being a rookie, but just an extension of my college career." That confidence will take him over the top. He's looking very good at that position. And we still have the other two guys that were fighting him, but I think right now, it looks like either (Torrin) Tucker or Jacob's going to get that position.
Eisen: Ever since the Quincy Carter release most of the Cowboys we've spoken to, or have heard being spoken to, said they're moving on -- that they've moved on quickly. How quickly did the team really move on from such a shocking move?
Wiley: It was tough that morning because no one knew it was going to happen. And no one knew the reasoning, but under Bill Parcells, you learn quickly that you better move forward and you better move forward in a positive direction, so I think that's what the team did. It was shocking personally for everyone, just to miss the guy as a friend, but like you learn in this game, they say it's the replacement business. Last year I wasn't here. This year I'm here. It happens. You're on both sides of that coin, so this team has to move forward and we still have our eye on the prize. We're just trying to get that Lombardi Trophy.
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