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October 21, 2008

Schizophrenic Pats resume roller-coaster run by smothering Denver

Schizophrenic Pats resume roller-coaster run by smothering Denver

On Pro Football

Hector Longo

FOXBORO — At some point this season, the New England Patriots will assume an identity. You hope.

Until then, schizophrenia equals playoff contender when it comes to Bill Belichick's boys, fresh off of last night's obliteration of a listless Denver Broncos outfit, 41-7.

There is no middle ground with these Matt Cassel-led Patriots.

They walked out of the same locker room, sporting the same uniform colors as the group that was humbled here by lowly Miami just 29 days ago.

This time, though, New England throttled Denver in a most thorough display. The Pats ripped the heart, if one actually existed, out of the Broncos early and dumped a quart of alcohol in the open wound by exacting 257 rushing yards from the lifeless Denver carcass.

"It's one game. We need to continue to move on," said corner Ellis Hobbs. "Statement games are every week. Developing your identity is every week."

Not with the Patriots so far.

As it stands, with the Buffalo Bills atop the AFC East at 5-1 and the Pats securely entrenched at 4-2, Belichick's mission over the next four to six weeks becomes harnessing this team's strengths, that is the things they've done well in Weeks 2, 4 and 6, while threshing away the wretched horrors of Weeks 3 and 5.

A domineering running game — see Sammy Morris' 16-carry, 138-yard performance in the first half last night — would seem to be the perfect jumping-off point.

Heck, neither Pats' personality, with 26 sacks surrendered in six games (five more than the entire 2007 season), why not line it up with both tight ends in the game and smack someone with Morris?

The last back to hit the hole with such combustability in this town was Corey Dillon in 2004. Morris and Co. weren't about to let dreary Denver hang around.

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