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PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

Centers was in the middle of it all

LANDOVER, Md. -- Larry Centers found himself the center of attention yesterday.

He was standing at the first-down marker with Tom Brady looking for a target on fourth and 3. Centers was waving, waiting for the ball, waiting for the drive to continue, and waiting for Adam Vinatieri's tying field goal. There were still 43 seconds left when Brady made the decision to go farther downfield to Daniel Graham. The pass fell incomplete and, for all intents and purposes, the game was over.

"Maybe I was just open too late," said Centers.

Maybe Brady just didn't see him.

Frustrating?

"The time it is most frustrating is when I'm standing at the sticks [at the first-down marker] and you see the ball go over and incomplete. If it's completed no foul, I'm not disappointed at all. Sometimes you gotta know when to take that shot. Tom did a pretty good job for us today, we just had some unfortunate things that didn't work out for us today," Centers said.

To Centers it was all about making the first down and getting into position for Vinatieri.

"The quarterback saw an open guy down field and he went for it," Centers said. "Unfortunately he was unable to hook up. Where I was really didn't matter once the ball leaves his hands."

Centers also ran a draw on the last drive for a 2-yard gain forcing the fourth and 3. He tried to implement what the coaches called. He said he will leave the Monday Morning quarterbacking to others. "Maybe I needed to make a play right there," he said. "The draw is one of those plays if it works it looks like a great call, if it doesn't, it doesn't look so hot."

He caught a 7-yard touchdown pass earlier in the fourth quarter. He was a a big part of the offense,

"We were just a step away today," said Centers. "We played against a good football team. This win would have done wonders for our team confidence. We have a lot of guys injured and for us to have our team step up and play hard and come away with a hard-fought win, it would have put us on a different level with our team confidence. There's a challenge there. We have to go back to the drawing board. If we go out and play hard we'll give ourselves a chance to win with the talent we have on our team."

He said in no way did he agree with the unnecessary roughness penalty he was flagged for on his hit on Jeremiah Trotter, which injured the Redskins linebacker.

"No way [was that a penalty]," said Centers.

More surprises Two game time deactivations were a little surprising -- receiver David Patten (right knee) and center Damien Woody (left knee). Both had indicated they expected to play. Also inactive were linebacker Mike Vrabel (broken right arm), fullback Fred McCrary (sprained left knee), linebacker Ted Johnson (broken left foot), Adrian Klemm (ankle), and nose tackle Ted Washington (fractured left leg). Russ Hochstein got the start at right guard and Tom Ashworth started at right tackle. Deion Branch started in Patten's spot. Rohan Davey was the third quaterback. Only Damon Huard and guard Brandon Gorin didn't play for the Patriots . . . The Patriots rotated their defensive line quite a bit, using a four-man line with Ty Warren playing some inside . . . The Patriots won another court ruling over a season ticket-holder. The Patriots prevailed in their decision to confiscate six season tickets held by Yarde Metals of Bristol, Conn., according to a Suffolk Superior Court judge. Yarde had asked for an injunction to retain its tickets, believing the tickets were confiscated because the Patriots failed to provide adequate rest room facilities for a game against the Packers last October. A Yarde employee had waited in a men's room line 25 minutes before entering a women's room after watching several other male patrons do the same . . . Troy Brown led the receivers with seven catches and David Givens had four. Second-year player Daniel Graham continued to get open, catching three balls for 54 yards. The Patriots ran for 106 yards, but for only 3.5 yards per carry. Kevin Faulk slipped into a 12-yards-on-10-carries day after a fumble. The Redskins ran for 116 yards . . . It was a tribute to the Patriots defense that it held the Redskins to a 3 for 11 on third down. The Patriots converted 7 of 15 third-down attempts . . . Patrick Pass replaced the injured Bethel Johnson on kickoff returns, bringing back two for 62 yards, including a 36-yard return . . . The Patriots' secondary played well, never allowing Laveranues Coles to break loose. He had five receptions for 62 yards, his longest going for 24 yards.

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