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NFL REPORT

Patriots Put Streak on Line

September 09, 2004|Sam Farmer | From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The New England Patriots head into tonight's season-opening game against the Indianapolis Colts intending to protect one of the NFL's best home-field advantages. The Patriots have won 11 consecutive regular-season and postseason games at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., and haven't lost there since falling to the New York Jets on Dec. 22, 2002.

Then again, home doesn't feel quite so familiar to the Patriots these days.

"The circus is in town," said quarterback Tom Brady, referring to the pregame concert by Elton John, Mary J. Blige, the Boston Pops and others, an event that will take place even while players are going through their stretching exercises next to the multiple stages.

"We're hoping to upstage any of the performers with the game," said Brady, who has led the Patriots to Super Bowl victories in two of the past three seasons.

"We are going to go out there and try to be what everyone paid their big money for to watch us play."

The Colts, led by quarterback Peyton Manning, the league's co-most valuable player last season, have won five consecutive openers and last season came within a game of reaching the Super Bowl before losing to the Patriots, 24-14.

New England has had more success against the Colts than any other team in the NFL, their .631 winning percentage against Indianapolis being their best against any team the Patriots have played more than 10 times.

The Patriots have defeated the Colts four consecutive times and are 15-4 against them since 1993.

"They play well together and play their schemes well," Manning said of the Patriots. "We just haven't played our best up there. We have another shot this year. Hopefully, we can do a little better this time."

-- Sam Farmer

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Tennessee kicker Joe Nedney will miss the season for the second year in a row after tearing his left hamstring, forcing the Titans to put him on injured reserve.

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Safety Jason Sehorn failed his physical with the St. Louis Rams, nullifying the contract he signed the previous night. Sehorn, 33, missed the first six games of last season after breaking his left foot early in training camp and never really got up to full speed. He underwent an additional operation in February, but the foot remains a problem.

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The Miami Dolphins acquired Lamar Gordon from the St. Louis Rams for a third-round draft pick in 2005.

Terrell Buckley signed with the New York Jets three days after the Patriots let him go. Buckley fills an immediate need after Ray Mickens went out for the year with a torn ligament in his left knee.

Coach Andy Reid got a four-year contract extension from the Philadelphia Eagles that will take him through the 2010 season. Reid's extension reportedly is worth more than $4.2 million a season.

Defensive end Aaron Schobel signed a five-year contract extension, allowing the Buffalo Bills to secure their best pass rusher. The contract, worth about $23 million, including a $6.75-million signing bonus, locks him up through the 2009 season.

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