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Just a finesse team? Patriots hope not

New England prepares for good old smashmouth football versus Oakland

Updated: September 29, 2011, 12:48 AM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain suggested earlier this week that the New England Patriots are "just a finesse team," he likely didn't mean it as harshly as it sounded. Unfortunately, there are few adjectives crueler in the football lexicon.

The insinuation is essentially that a finesse team is soft and masks its lack of toughness with a skilled approach (most often on the offensive side of the ball). For the better part of the past decade, including ...

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