New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison in action against the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC championship game Sunday, Jan. 18, 2004, in Foxboro, Mass.
(AP Photo/Jim Rogash)
What Now? Patriots Try to Regoup
With strong safety Rodney Harrison (left leg) out for
the season and left tackle Matt Light (right leg) out for an unknown length of
time, the spotlight will shine on their replacements, second-year safety Guss Scott and rookie offensive lineman Nick Kaczur.
Scott has the more challenging
task, filling in for Harrison, who has been a rock for the Patriots, starting
all 40 games including playoffs, since signing as a free agent before the 2003
season. He is also one of the emotional leaders of a team that already was without
heart-and-soul inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who is sitting out the season as
he recovers from a stroke.
At 5-feet-10, 205 pounds, Scott is smaller than
Harrison (6-1, 220), but coach Bill Belichick has praised Scott's tackling ability.
Scott also has good speed, as evidenced by the fact that he is a core special
Scott can feel Harrison's pain. A third-round pick out
of Florida last year, Scott missed his entire rookie season after hurting his
knee in the second preseason game.
Kaczur, a third-round pick out of Toledo,
had worked at both tackle spots as the Patriots used a three-man rotation through
the season's first two weeks. He also started the last two preseason games, one
because Light was resting a foot injury. At 6-4, 319 pounds, Kaczur is the Patriots'
biggest offensive lineman, and coach Bill Belichick has said the Brantford, Ontario,
native is ahead of the curve as a rookie because of his natural strength.
Light's absence, the Patriots will go with a pair of rookies on the left side
of the line. First-rounder Logan Mankins has been the starter at left guard since
Day 1 of training camp.
-- SS Rodney Harrison
will miss the remainder of the season after reportedly tearing all three major
ligaments in his knee Sunday.
--The Patriots surrendered three sacks, only
the fourth time in the last 28 games (including playoffs) that Tom Brady has been
dropped that often. Yet the offensive line, which lost left tackle Matt Light
to a leg injury in the second quarter, kept Brady clean for each of his last 17
throws. "Tom made some good throws with protection and was able to set up
the kick in the end," coach Bill Belichick said.
--Beginning with his
Super Bowl XXXVIII-winning kick in Houston two years ago, Adam Vinatieri has made
42 of his last 45 field goal attempts. After missing a 53-yarder against the Steelers
on his first try, he connected from 48, 35 and 43 yards, with the last one providing
the winning margin with one second left. "You know he's going to hit it,"
tight end Christian Fauria said. "When I'm out there, I don't even look at
the guy. I just get out of his way, give him a little space, and hopefully after
I get knocked on the ground, when I put my head up, we've made the field goal.
That's usually the way it happens."
--WR David Givens set single-game
career highs in receptions (9) and receiving yards (130).
--QB Tom Brady's
372 passing yards were the second most of his career. He had 410 yards in an overtime
victory against Kansas City on Sept. 22, 2002.
--DE Richard Seymour recorded
the first multiple-sack game of his career. He took down Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
twice but ruined one of the sacks by drawing a 15-yard facemask penalty.
Willie McGinest notched his 73rd career sack in the fourth quarter to move into
third place on the Patriots' all-time list ahead of Tony McGee. McGinest now trails
only Andre Tippett (100 sacks) and Julius Adams (79.5).
--WR/PR Tim Dwight's
28-yard punt return in the third quarter was the longest by a Patriot since Deion Branch had a 40-yarder against Denver on Oct. 27, 2002.
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