Brady Returns as Patriots Open Against Bills on Monday Night

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Brady Returns as Patriots Open Against Bills on Monday Night The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills each kick off their 50th seasons in a Monday Night Football showdown at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots are 57-40-1 all-time against the Bills, and they’ve won 11 consecutive games against their AFC East counterparts.

In fact, the last time the Bills stomped the Patriots was the 2003 regular-season opener in Buffalo.

When and Where

Monday, Sept. 14, 2009, 7 p.m.
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

Records

New England Patriots (0-0)
Buffalo Bills (0-0)

Skinny

For the last time, we’ll be previewing quarterback Tom Brady’s return to the Patriots after suffering a season-ending left knee injury exactly 53 weeks ago. Of course, Brady’s 2008 season lasted less than 20 minutes of real time, as a low blow from Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard sent the franchise quarterback crumbling to the ground in agony. Brady, who was named an offensive captain for the eighth consecutive season, is coming off of a fairly impressive preseason and is clearly ready for the important games to start up again.

“I played three [preseason games] in the last month, so I think a lot of those first-game jitters are gone,” Brady said. “It’s a regular-season football game, so there’s always a lot of excitement because we like to say we’ve come out of a tough camp. It’s going to be fun for all of us to get out there and have a regular-season game.”

Projected Starters

Patriots
Offense
Quarterback: Tom Brady
Wide Receiver: Randy Moss
Wide Receiver: Wes Welker
Wide Receiver: Joey Galloway
Running Back: Fred Taylor
Tight End: Chris Baker
Left Tackle: Matt Light
Left Guard: Logan Mankins
Center: Dan Koppen
Right Guard: Stephen Neal
Right Tackle: Nick Kaczur

Defense
Left Defensive End: Ty Warren
Nose Tackle: Vince Wilfork
Right Defensive End: Jarvis Green
Left Outside Linebacker: Pierre Woods
Middle Linebacker: Jerod Mayo
Middle Linebacker: Gary Guyton
Right Outside Linebacker: Adalius Thomas
Left Cornerback: Shawn Springs
Right Cornerback: Leigh Bodden
Strong Safety: Brandon Meriweather
Free Safety: James Sanders

Specialists
Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski
Punter: Chris Hanson
Long Snapper: Jake Ingram

Bills
Offense
Quarterback: Trent Edwards
Wide Receiver: Terrell Owens
Wide Receiver: Lee Evans
Running Back: Fred Jackson
Fullback: Corey McIntyre
Tight End: Derek Schouman
Left Tackle: Demetrius Bell
Left Guard: Eric Wood
Center: Geoff Hangartner
Right Guard: Andy Levitre
Right Tackle: Brad Butler

Defense
Left Defensive End: Chris Kelsay
Defensive Tackle: Marcus Stroud
Defensive Tackle: Kyle Williams
Right Defensive End: Aaron Schobel
Strongside Linebacker: Kawika Mitchell
Middle Linebacker: Paul Posluszny
Weakside Linebacker: Keith Ellison
Left Cornerback: Terrence McGee
Right Cornerback: Leodis McKelvin
Strong Safety: Bryan Scott
Free Safety: Donte Whitner

Specialists
Kicker: Rian Lindell
Punter: Brian Moorman
Long Snapper: Garrison Sanborn

Stat Sheet

Patriots
The Patriots, who have won 12 of their last 14 home openers, are 7-0 against the Bills at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots are 16-21 on Monday Night Football, but they’ve won five in a row. However, they’re just 1-2 (1-1 at home) in season openers on Monday Night Football.

New England’s 57 victories against the Bills are its most against any opponent.

Tom Brady took 15 offensive snaps last season before injuring his knee against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium.

Running back Sammy Morris has rushed for 255 total yards in his last two Monday night games.

Randy Moss had 183 receiving yards in the Patriots’ 2007 season opener against the New York Jets, which is the team record in season openers. He also had nine receptions and one touchdown in that game.

Brady needs three touchdown passes to become the 27th NFL player to record 200 in his career.

Wide receiver Wes Welker caught at least six passes in each of the Patriots’ first 11 games last season to set a new NFL record. Former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Jimmy Smith held the previous record with eight games.

Running back Kevin Faulk is one of just six players with 2,000 rushing yards and 3,000 receiving yards this decade.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski nailed all seven field-goal attempts and all 11 extra-point attempts in the preseason.

Bills
The Bills have been held to a touchdown or less over the last five games against the Patriots’ defense.

The Bills are 4-3 against the Patriots in regular-season openers.

Wide receiver Terrell Owens has 141 career touchdowns, which ties him with San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson for the most among active players. Owens is tied for fourth all-time.

Fred Jackson, starting at running back in place of the suspended Marshawn Lynch, rushed for 136 yards against the Patriots in the 2008 season finale.

The Bills’ time of possession average last season was 30:04, their highest since 2004.

Quarterback Trent Edwards, a good friend of Boston Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie, has completed 37-of-68 passes (54.4 percent) for 345 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in three career games against the Patriots

Black and Blue

Patriots
(From Thursday’s practice report)

Safety/special teamer Matthew Slater has a left elbow injury and did not practice.

Offensive lineman Dan Connelly (back) had limited participation.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman (ankle) had limited participation.

Running back Sammy Morris (finger) had limited participation.

Defensive lineman Myron Pryor (calf) had limited participation.

Cornerback Shawn Springs (knee) had limited participation.

Wide receiver Wes Welker (knee) had limited participation.

Cornerback Terrence Wheatley (knee) had limited participation.

Quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder) fully participated.

Safety Bret Lockett (chest) fully participated.

Tight end Ben Watson (hamstring) fully participated.

Bills
(From Thursday’s injury report)

Tight end Derek Fine (hamstring) did not practice.

Cornerback Drayton Florence (knee) did not practice.

Defensive tackle Spencer Johnson (thigh) had limited participation.

This Date in Patriots History

In 2008, quarterback Matt Cassel makes his first start since high school and leads the Patriots to a 19-10 road victory against the New York Jets. Filling in for Tom Brady, Cassel completed 16-of-23 passes for 165 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Cassel won 10 of his 15 starts in 2008 and earned a trade to the Kansas City Chiefs, who turned him into a millionaire.

Overheard

“The good thing about going up against T.O. is when you play a guy like that, you at least see where you’re at because you know he is always going to try to dominate any opponent. He comes out, and he works really hard. You have to be ready playing him. The good thing about him is either you’re going to be the bug or the windshield, one of the two with him. He’s so competitive, and you’ve got to like playing against guys like that.”
— Patriots cornerback Shawn Springs, who has the reputation as a Terrell Owens stopper, on what it takes to cover Owens

Press Box

Patriots
Hey, rookie, welcome to the NFL.

Patriots have one season left on a memorable decade.

Bill O’Brien fills the role as the play caller.

Bills
Dick Jauron is feeling the heat.

Youth on the offensive line.

Edwards adjusts to new offense.

NFL
Examining successful player-coach combinations.

Remember Matt Cassel?

Five budding superstars.

Outlook

There is no question the Patriots are gearing up for another run to the Super Bowl, and their first test is Monday against the Bills. Buffalo is a tough team that likes to hit you in the mouth, and its players make up for a lot of deficiencies with their hard-nosed style of play.

The Patriots are clearly the better team, but it will be exceedingly important for them to limit big plays from the Bills’ special teams, as guys like Roscoe Parrish, Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin are home-run threats on punts and kickoffs. Providing the Patriots’ coverage units keep the Bills in check, there shouldn’t be any risk of an upset.

Also, look for the Patriots to really get after Bills quarterback Trent Edwards, who is still a little green with limited experience. New England is making an effort to improve its pass rush, and it’s got a great opportunity to attack Buffalo’s young offensive line, which has changed a lot of parts since last season.

There is no reason the Patriots should fall to the Bills in their home opener.

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