AFC East: Chiefs-Patriots
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Two weeks ago, several precincts in Patriot Nation wanted to get a look at the rookie quarterback.
Two games later, all is well.
Cassel was the AFC offensive player of the week for destroying the Denver Broncos on Monday night. He followed up with his first fourth-quarter comeback victory, hooking up with Kevin Faulk on a 15-yard touchdown play with 3:19 to go.
Cassel did throw two interceptions and got sacked three times. But the Patriots are 5-2 and tied with the Buffalo Bills despite a slew of injuries. The Patriots played without any of their top three running backs Sunday.
For those of you who wrote off the Patriots, I hope you used a pencil. Time to break out your erasers.
|AP Photo/Robert E. Klein|
|Patriots QB Tom Brady will miss the rest of the season.|
Eli Whitney, the pioneer who popularized interchangeable parts, just sent a text message from the Great Beyond.
OMG! Just got done watching Bill Belichick. Does he realize this is Tom freaking Brady?!?!? ROFL!
Yes, it was ridiculous. The New England Patriots coach stood at a lectern in Gillette Stadium and tried to pretend it's no more a big whoop Brady will miss the rest of the season with a left knee injury than it would be if they'd lost a backup tight end.
Belichick at the top of his news conference matter-of-factly announced his superstar quarterback had been placed on injured reserve. Then Belichick droned on and on about how well the New England Patriots played in the red zone Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs and how pleased he was with how they stood tall in the fourth quarter and how every team's improving in September and now they're looking forward to the Jets, who also played well in their opener and ...
Did he expect the first question to be: "So, Bill, how do you plan to contain Leon Washington?"
Brady's injury is catastrophic to New England's aspirations. Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard, who had been blocked to the ground by running back Sammy Morris lunged as Brady stepped into a throw. Brady's knee -- and Patriots Nation -- buckled.
Matt Cassel, who hasn't started a game since 1999, when he was in high school, now assumes control of a team that went 0-4 in the preseason without Brady and barely held on to beat the lowly Chiefs.
Belichick played the role of the impervious coach, as if making believe it will be business as usual without the face of the franchise.
"We all just have to do our jobs," Belichick said. "That's what every player has to do. Each guy has a job to do, a coach, a player. They have a job to do and they need to do it as well as they can. That doesn't change.
"He played one position, and he played it very well. There will be somebody else playing that position now. I have a lot of confidence in Matt, and everybody else has to continue to do their job as they always have."
The AFC East is up for grabs.
Reports claim Brady's knee injury is season-ending. That could be cataclysmic for the Patriots, who are depth-deprived at quarterback. They needed to hang on in the final minute to defeat the lowly Chiefs.
Old friend Damon Huard -- the Chiefs' backup quarterback, no less -- drove 73 yards to give them a first-and-goal opportunity from the Patriots' 5-yard line. The Chiefs failed to punch it in, but that shouldn't be an occasion for gloating too much in Foxborough.
Brady's injury is cause for serious alarm, not only because the job would go to Matt Cassel (if he starts next week against the Jets in the Meadowlands it will be his first start since high school), but also because an extended rehab would be a discouraging blow to the locker room.
Cassel has done little to engender confidence. He failed to lead the Patriots to a scoring drive in the preseason. He came off the bench Sunday to complete 13 of 18 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. That was something to build on, but he did it against the Chiefs, whom the Dolphins dominated and shut out in the third preseason game -- the one that's supposed to be most reflective of the real thing.
That should make Patriots fans feel better.
Bills 34, Seahawks 10: It can be argued nobody had a better weekend than the Bills.
Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters ended his 43-day holdout by reporting to the team on Saturday. Brady's injury creates hope the AFC East title might actually be attainable. Then they put a thumping on the Seahawks, who were short-handed from injuries and suspensions yet still are considered one the NFC's better clubs.
The Bills rolled with a balanced offensive attack, a defense that recorded five sacks and forced a pair of turnovers and touchdowns from their special teams on a Roscoe Parrish punt return and a fake field goal.
That was the sort of statement game the Bills' needed.
Second-year QB Trent Edwards overcame his limited preseason action (four series over two exhibition games) and completed 19 of 30 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown. RB Marshawn Lynch ran for 76 yards and a score. WR Lee Evans had 102 yards. TE Robert Royal had a team-high six catches and a TD.
What else could they have done besides post a shutout?
In a division in which the gap between No. 1 and No. 2 constricted appreciably, the Bills showed today they could be the new AFC East team to beat.