BATTLING BLEDSOE

Drew Bledsoe has played like a man on a mission after being traded after nine years with the New England Patriots. It's just the Dolphins' luck that they have to face him twice a year because the Patriots traded him to another AFC East team.

"I don't understand why New England traded him to Buffalo," said defensive end Jason Taylor. "It was kind of a stupid move on their part, and now we're stuck playing against him again. He's playing unbelievably. He's brought so much to that team from a confidence standpoint. They're a completely different team than they were last year."

The Bills, thanks in large part to Bledsoe, already have matched last year's victory total after only six games. Throwing to a great group of wide receivers, Bledsoe is on a pace to break Dan Marino's NFL record for most passing yards in a season.

"Bringing Bledsoe into the picture makes them even more scarier," said linebacker Zach Thomas. "Why couldn't he go to Cincinnati? Do not stay in the division. That's ridiculous. Hopefully, it'll come back and bite New England."

The Dolphins obviously are very familiar with Bledsoe from his days in New England, and they generally have had good success against him.

In 17 career games against the Dolphins, Bledsoe has thrown 22 touchdown passes, but has been intercepted 26 times. He also has been held under a 50 percent completion percentage in six of those games.

But Bledsoe also has had some big games against Miami, the two glaring examples coming in the 1994 season opener (421 yards, four touchdowns) and in a 1998 game at New England (423 yards, two touchdowns).

Since that game, though, it's been all Miami in the battle against Bledsoe. In 1999 and 2000, Bledsoe had four touchdowns and nine picks in four games against the Dolphins and his completion percentage was a weak 48.2 percent. He also was sacked nine times in those four games.

"I don't know," Taylor said. "We've been able to get pressure on him some in the previous games. And that's big for any quarterback. I'll stand here and tell you every week that pressuring a quarterback is big because it takes them out of their rhythm and makes them think about the rush a little bit more rather than their receivers."

If they don't, the Dolphins could find themselves caught in a shootout.

"They're a formidable act," Taylor said of the Buffalo offense. "They're as good as there is out there. The way Drew throws the ball, (Eric) Moulds is one of the better ones in the league and has been a Pro Bowler, and Peerless Price has a lot of speed. You don't need me to tell you how good he is.

"It's definitely a challenge. They don't get any easier. After a tough game against New England, we had Denver. And now after a tough game up in Denver, we've got the Bills. Next week will be our easy one."

Next week is the Dolphins' bye week.


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