Bledsoe takes on Patriots for first time

Autumn in New England is steaming bowls of creamy clam chowder and brilliant foliage on rolling hills. From 1993-2001, it also meant 6-5, 240-pound DREW BLEDSOE quarterbacking the New England Patriots to playoff berths in 1994, '96, '97 and '98 while climbing atop nearly every meaningful passing record in team annals.

You can still smell chowder and stroll along leafy paths in Foxboro, Massachusetts, but Bledsoe is now in Buffalo, fixed on lifting the Bills (5-3) into the playoffs.  This Sunday, he faces his former team for the first time since it traded him to its division rival. 

The Super Bowl XXXVI-champion Patriots have lost four in a row.  "There's confidence left in this team," says Patriots head coach BILL BELICHICK.

Buffalo is "Confidence Central."  The Bills look doubt in the eye and doubt fakes a pulled hamstring.

"We are in the mix," said Bledsoe after helping defeat the Detroit Lions 24-17 Sunday.  "At the half-way point of the season, we have put ourselves in a situation where we can compete down the stretch."

Bledsoe has an NFL-best 2,500 passing yards, which puts him on pace to become the second player in NFL history to throw for 5,000 or more yards in a season (DAN MARINO; 5,084, 1984).  With 173 yards this Sunday, Bledsoe would have more than Marino (2,672) after nine weeks in his record-setting '84 season.  In addition, this Sunday marks the ninth time that a quarterback will start against a team for which he threw more than 25,000 passing yards.  In those games, the quarterback defeated his former club all eight times (see chart below).

TOM BRADY, Bledsoe's former understudy, is 2-0 against the "pre-Drew" Bills and has passed for 862 yards on the road this season (287.3 yards per game).  He sits three spots behind Bledsoe in the AFC in passing yards (1,879).   

Bledsoe is not working alone in lifting Buffalo to the NFL's No. 2 perch in total offense (384.0).  Running back TRAVIS HENRY stands fourth in the AFC in rushing (695) along with 24 receptions.  Wide receivers ERIC MOULDS (785) and PEERLESS PRICE (743) rank Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, atop the NFL in receiving yards.  The Bills also are one of two teams (Cleveland) to have five players with at least 20 catches. 

Defensively, Buffalo claims the fifth highest sack total in the AFC (19) and has iced opposing passing attacks by yielding fewer than 200 yards through the air in six of eight games.  Defensive end AARON SCHOBEL leads the Bills with 4.5 sacks while CHIDI AHANOTU has racked up 4.0 more from the opposite end position.  Cornerback NATE CLEMENTS earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 7 with three interceptions in a road win against Miami.

Quarterbacks to start against a team for which they threw 25,000+ yards:

QUARTERBACK

DATE

NEW TEAM VS. FORMER TEAM

Att.-Comp-Yds-TD-INT

RESULT

Warren Moon

Oct. 5, 1997

 Seattle vs. Tennessee

40 – 27 – 260 – 0 – 0

W  16-13

Dave Krieg

Oct. 29, 1995

 Arizona vs. Seattle

43 – 23 – 200 – 1 – 2

W  20-14 OT

Warren Moon

Oct. 8, 1995

 Minnesota vs. Houston

43 – 28 – 289 – 2 – 0

W  23-17 OT

Joe Montana

Sept. 11, 1994

 Kansas City at San Francisco

31 – 19 – 203 – 2 – 0

W  24-17

Boomer Esiason

Nov. 21, 1993

*New York Jets vs. Cincinnati

26 – 17 – 193 – 0 – 0

W  17-12

Dave Krieg

Nov. 22, 1992

*Kansas City at Seattle

15 – 11 – 103 – 0 – 0

W  24-14

Dave Krieg

Sept. 13, 1992

*Kansas City vs. Seattle

19 – 13 – 231 – 1 – 0

W  26-7

John Hadl

Nov. 24, 1974

 Green Bay vs. San Diego

11 – 22 – 157 – 1 – 0

W  34-0

 

 

 

 

 

DREW BLEDSOE

Nov. 3, 2002

*Buffalo vs. New England

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* Faced former team season following departure.


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