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He felt bad, but Dillon carried on after fumble

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / November 23, 2004

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Corey Dillon scored two rushing touchdowns, fumbled once near the end zone, and fell 2 yards shy of 100 for the game, and 2 shy of 1,000 for the season. The most important thing he did was run the ball well late in the game when the Patriots needed to chew up the clock in their 27-19 win over the Chiefs last night.

If the Chiefs had half the game Dillon had, they likely would have overtaken the Patriots, but the New England run defense was as superb as the Chiefs were ineffective.

In Dillon's first "Monday Night Football" game, the star back felt he contributed because the Patriots were able to sell the play fake more with his presence.

"I think people are respecting the run to the point where we're sucking them up with the play-action, and that allows us to get downfield with the deep ball and make things happen," said Dillon. "The passing game is helping the run game and the run game is helping the passing game. That's why we're a balanced offense."

Dillon didn't feel completely good about his night. He fumbled on a first and goal at the Kansas City 5 with 12:04 remaining in the fourth quarter.

"I'm disgusted," said Dillon of the fumble. "I was just trying too hard to make things happen. Immediately after that the team told me, `We need you to come through, run the ball hard, and get us down there.' That's what I did.

"That's what I love about this team. They believe in me. I believe in them. We fight until the end for each other. That's a good thing, and that's what I love about this place."

Patrick Pass did a fine job blocking from his fullback spot, springing Dillon several times.

He wanted call Kansas City quarterback Trent Green felt that tight end Tony Gonzalez was held in the end zone by Rodney Harrison before the end of the first half, on a pass that Harrison picked off. "I've got to tread lightly because I coud get fined based on what I say," said Green. "It's interesting every week that we get letters from the league saying, `Oops, sorry,' but that doesn't do us any good. It's unfortunate that Tony, being the player he is, doesn't get a little more leeway in that department." . . . After spending the past two weeks staying in to block, Daniel Graham was quite prominent, catching three balls for 83 yards, including a 27-yarder on the first series when Tom Brady beat a blitz and found Graham alone on the right side . . . Cornerback Asante Samuel left the game with 1:33 remaining on an incomplete pass by Green. Samuel did not return and said after the game that he was in some pain, likely in the right shoulder he injured in the St. Louis game. "It's just a matter of getting through the pain," Samuel said . . . Chiefs guard Will Shields played in his 185th consecutive game, extending his record for most starts in team history.

Pitching in The opportunity being presented to cornerback Earthwind Moreland, 27, while Ty Law and Tyrone Poole are out isn't lost on the former Georgia Southern star, who is playing with his third NFL team in five seasons. "I do know that I have to make the most of the situation. Opportunities like this don't come along too often," said Moreland, who unfortunately was burned on two Chiefs touchdowns. At Georgia Southern, Moreland went to two Division 1-AA title games, won one, and played during a three-year stretch in which Southern went 37-6. He played in the 2002 World Bowl with the Rhein Fire (a 26-20 loss to Berlin). He knows winning. "The one thing that helped me is that it's not like I just showed up and am trying to learn the system. I was here in training camp so I understand the defense," Moreland said. "Week by week we do change things to suit the team we're playing, but being here before it wasn't a big transition where I had to learn a whole new defense." Moreland made a nice play to drop Rams receiver Shaun McDonald for a 7-yard loss Nov. 7 at St. Louis. The Atlanta native, whose mother named him after her favorite band, "Earth, Wind and Fire," didn't seem overmatched in that game, although he struggled last night. "In college we were fortunate -- even though it was 1-AA, we had a chance to go to two national championships and win one of them. "It's totally different than being a Super Bowl champ because they've won two out of the last three and the guys are so into what they're doing. But I've always been in winning programs."

Kasper a ghost To make room for the return of Deion Branch, Kevin Kasper was placed on the inactive list. Other inactives were cornerbacks Law (foot) and Poole (knee), running back Cedric Cobbs (coach's decision), linebacker Matt Chatham (hamstring), defensive end Marquise Hill (coach's decision), and defensive tackle Ethan Kelley. The team also made a minor roster move, waiving running back Rabih Abdullah and signing linebacker Justin Kurpeikis, who was wearing No. 47. Kurpeikis, 27, has played in nine games with the Pittsburgh Steelers . . . According to a report in Sunday's Cleveland Plain Dealer, Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli will be a coveted candidate to run the organization if coach Butch Davis leaves or cuts back on his responsibilities. The Browns wouldn't need to seek permission to talk to Pioli because Bill Belichick is the Patriots' decision-maker. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue ordered all teams to designate one decision-maker and put the language in their contract to better define the league's tampering rules. Pioli could then leave, even though his contract runs through April '06, to be a decision-maker with another team . . . Last night marked the 150th game, counting regular season and postseason, that six players on the team had been together since 1996. Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, Adam Vinatieri, Ted Johnson, and Willie McGinest were all active last night, while the sixth member of the group, Law, was out . . . One lineup change: Keith Traylor started over Vince Wilfork . . . Jarvis Green continues to be used as a third-down pass rusher while Ty Warren usually sits in passing situations . . . It was the Patriots' first win at Arrowhead Stadium in four attempts. It also marked their first win in Kansas City since 1964.

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