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NFL '97 / WEEK 1 | NEW ENGLAND 41, SAN DIEGO 7

Bledsoe Delivers Air Mail to Start Post-Parcells Era

September 01, 1997|From Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. — Drew Bledsoe repeatedly pumped his fist in exultation and never looked to the sidelines in fear of Bill Parcells' scowl.

The New England Patriots showed they can dominate without their demanding former coach as Bledsoe threw four first-half touchdown passes in a 41-7 rout of the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

"What I hoped it would be like happened," said Pete Carroll of his Patriot coaching debut. "It was as good as we were dreaming about."

The season-opening victory came against the team from the city where the Patriots hope to end it in the Super Bowl. And rarely in the Patriots' run to last season's Super Bowl in New Orleans--where they lost to the Green Bay Packers--did they play as well as they did Sunday.

"Nobody made a concerted effort not to think about Bill, but this is our team and he isn't our coach," running back Curtis Martin said.

In the first half, the offense scored on five of its six possessions, and the defense recovered two fumbles, forced four punts, sacked Charger quarterback Stan Humphries three times and allowed no points. Humphries was eventually knocked out of the game because of a dislocated left shoulder in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots dominated every phase of the game, outgaining the Chargers, 424 yards to 227.

"We made a statement to the league: Get ready because this is what you are going to have to deal with," fullback Keith Byars said.

"It's about as good as we could have started out," said Bledsoe, who completed 26 of 39 passes for 340 yards, with touchdowns to Ben Coates, Terry Glenn, Sam Gash and Byars.

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