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PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

Some passing similarities

FOXBOROUGH -- It's a question you'd like Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Charlie Weis to answer: "Are there similarities between Brady in 2001 and Steelers rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this season?"

For now, we'll have to settle for Brady's answer.

"[Roethlisberger] has done unbelievably," Brady said. "My rookie year, there was no way I could have done what he did. I was awful. I couldn't do anything. I was hoping to show up and bring my playbook. He is out there and hasn't lost a game. He has done a tremendous job and he is on a very good team. I was on a very good team [my second year, 2001], a team that played very good defense, ran the ball well, and had some playmakers. David Patten had a great year that year for me. Troy Brown had the best year of his career, reception-wise. So, there probably are a few parallels in that sense. He hasn't lost a game. I lost a few of those."

Brady, who appeared in only one game as a rookie, was in his second year when he replaced Drew Bledsoe as the starter in 2001.

Brady, who is playing in his third AFC Championship game, suffered a sprained ankle in the second quarter of his first AFC title game, also in Pittsburgh. He was replaced by Bledsoe, who helped lead the Patriots to a 24-17 win.

Brady's recollections of the practices leading up to that game are hazy.

"I remember we practiced in our stadium," said Brady. "I remember it was a cold week. It was a fun week. Charlie and I got into it on the practice field one day, as a second-year player. I remember that."

Brady said Weis was schooling him on a decision he'd made in a previous game.

"I made a bad read," Brady recalled. "He let me know it. I didn't want to hear it so I kind of yelled back. He didn't like when I yelled back, so I probably deserved it. It wasn't good."

One of Brady's trademarks is his ability to rebound from a subpar performance with a strong game. Can Roethlisberger, who threw two interceptions in the Steelers' 20-17 overtime win over the Jets Saturday, do the same?

"That is a great question and something that I thought about as I watched the end of that game and as I watched his comments at the end of the game," said Brady. "Anybody who is a competitor, if you have a tough game like that where you don't play as well as you would like and have the opportunity to go out the next week, the great competitors do play better the next week. There is just a motivation and it kind of grounds you. It gets you back to, `OK, let's get back to my fundamentals. I'm not taking anything for granted anymore.' "

Brady said the Patriots' defense is expecting the good Roethlisberger to show up.

"As a competitor and as a player, I think our defense is expecting him to rebound," said Brady. "It seems like he has done that all year. The way that team performs, it seems like they have an awful lot of confidence in him. If they have reason to believe he'll bounce back, then we should, too."

Swinging away
One question to Belichick at his news conference yesterday was a softball right in the coach's wheelhouse: "If the Patriots can play defensively like they did against the Colts . . ."

Belichick swung away.

"If we play like we did against the Colts, we'll get killed," he said. "It'll be a lot worse than whatever it was out there the last time, because Pittsburgh is not the Colts. And the Colts are not Pittsburgh. You're talking about two totally different teams. The things that we did against the Colts, if we tried to do them against the Steelers, it would be 55-0. That might be if they kneel on the ball like they did at the end of the game last time. There's almost nothing that I would carry over or correlate from that game to this game. We couldn't make a bigger mistake than trying to do that in my opinion."

Seymour watch
While the chances of Richard Seymour playing Sunday appear less than 50-50, the big defensive end, who missed last week's game against Indianapolis, took part in some aspects of practice yesterday. Last week he was upgraded to questionable, where he remained on yesterday's injury report. Also on the report was fullback Patrick Pass (ankle) as questionable. Off the list for the first time in several weeks was linebacker Matt Chatham, who had a hamstring injury . . . Having played for both Belichick and Steelers coach Bill Cowher, Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel threw bouquets at both when asked to describe the two: "I think that Bill Belichick is a guy that really puts a lot into the game plan and has a strength with the X's and O's. I think that Bill Cowher does a great job of motivating his guys and getting his guys ready to play. You know he gets everything out of his players. Everybody that's been through there has been successful." 

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