New England Patriots Team Report

With 3:14 remaining in Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans and the Patriots clinging to a 31-27 lead, an injured Ty Law took off his jacket and stepped up beside Bill Belichick. <br><br>"Coach. I can go back in," Law said. "I can finish if you need me."

Law had left the game in the third quarter after aggravating the ankle injury he suffered two weeks ago against the Jets. He didn't practice all week leading into the Titans game, but had played well through the first half in helping keep Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair in check. With Law gone, the Titans quarterback was dissecting the Patriots secondary.

"The trainers told me he couldn't go back in," Belichick said. "(After he told me he could), I said, 'OK, are you sure you're alright?' and he said he was OK so we put him back in."

Of course, Law proceeded to intercept McNair and run 65 yards for a game-clinching touchdown as he continues his standout MVP-caliber season.

"You always anticipate something before every play. I anticipated something quick to the sideline to stop the clock. I was pretty much waiting on that route. I took a gamble and it worked out for us.", Law said after the game.

Law is playing some of the best football of his career and he's doing it on an ankle that looked as though it should have snapped in half when he suffered the injury late in the first half of the Sept. 14 win over the Jets. But for some reason offenses keep feeling the need to test Law, and McNair found out just how costly that can be.

"I really wasn't expecting to have him come back in," Belichick said. "He really has (amazed me). He has a lot of toughness. He's a competitor. He's come in and made some big plays and some good plays when he's not 100 percent. He deserves a lot of credit."

"I am still doing alright," Law said of his gimpy ankle. "I couldn't play all the coverages they wanted me to play, but they gave me a chance to freelance."

Law could be in a contract year as far as he is concerned even though his current deal runs through 2005, and if he is, he's making and open-and-shut case as to why he deserves to remain among the highest paid corners in the NFL.

Since he has already said that he won't reduce his salary next year if approached by the Patriots to do so, Law assumes he will eventually meet the same fate as his former teammate, Lawyer Milloy, who was cut in early September. Law's cap number will jump well beyond $9 million next year, but the Patriots may have to find a way to afford their only true shutdown corner. With a base salary of more than $5 million next season, Law's pay will be in line with other top corners, but it's his cap number that is prohibitive.

Through five games in 2003, Law has proven to be worth every dime and his play has helped the Patriots overcome a slew of injuries to defensive starters.


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