Law has an undisclosed foot injury
Cornerback hurt on third series
By Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff | November 1, 2004

PITTSBURGH -- The Patriots suffered a severe blow yesterday when All-Pro cornerback Ty Law left with an undisclosed left foot injury on the third series of the game and never returned.

The Patriots were, as usual, mum on Law's injury, initially indicating he was "questionable" to return and then "doubtful" by the second half. With Tyrone Poole already out with a knee injury, it forced the team to use rookie Randall Gay in Law's spot and the Steelers took advantage, burning Gay on a 47-yard touchdown pass to Plexico Burress in Pittsburgh's 34-20 win.

After the game, Law's locker was cleaned out.

Asked to provide an update on Law, coach Bill Belichick said, "No, he did not come back and finish the game so obviously we will evaluate him and see how he is doing later." Gay also was helped off the field midway through the third quarter, favoring his leg. That moved free safety Eugene Wilson to corner and brought rookie Dexter Reid into Wilson's spot until Gay returned.

The Patriots were as depleted as they've been this season with running back Corey Dillon a scratch with a thigh/foot injury. Dillon had been listed as questionable at midweek.

Dillon was on the sideline, but when approached after the game, he said he wanted no part of answering questions.

Asked how much of a difference Dillon not playing made to the offense, which ran only six times, Belichick answered, "You tell me; he did not play."

The Patriots were also playing without right tackle Tom Ashworth, receiver Deion Branch, and fullback Patrick Pass.

The injuries forced the Patriots to start Kevin Faulk at running back, Asante Samuel at right corner, and Brandon Gorin at right tackle.

Law did not make contact with anyone on the play on which he was hurt. He made a move on a Hines Ward route and then collapsed to the turf.

Left tackle Matt Light had the wind knocked out of him late in the third quarter and did not return. That created a mish-mash at offensive line, which in the fourth quarter consisted of Stephen Neal shifting to right tackle with Russ Hochstein entering the game at right guard and Gorin moving to left tackle.

Before the game, the Patriots placed linebacker Dan Klecko on injured reserve with a knee injury incurred while playing fullback on a pass route last week against the Jets. The Patriots replaced Klecko with rookie running back Cedric Cobbs, who gained 1 yard in his first NFL carry.

Vinatieri on deck?
The Patriots have cap room to sign another impending free agent before Nov. 8, which means they could assume the cap hit this season rather than next. Team sources indicate that discussions likely will be held this week to extend kicker Adam Vinatieri, who has hit 14 of 15 field goals this season, including ones from 43 and 25 yards yesterday.

Vinatieri is one of the few players in the league over the past few years who had most of his money guaranteed. Vinatieri is expected to be a highly sought free agent if he hits the market, but he has said repeatedly he would like to retire a Patriot.

Brown returns
The Patriots did return Troy Brown to the active roster, and he was Tom Brady's go-to receiver in the second half. Brown caught five passes for 59 yards. Brown has had an injury-filled season in which he had missed four of the team's first six games, his latest injury a sore shoulder . . . Rodney Harrison had a monster game -- 18 tackles, 10 unassisted, including three special teams tackles . . . The 47-yard TD pass from Roethlisberger to Burress was the longest against the Patriots since Sept. 22, 2002, when San Diego's Drew Brees found Curtis Conway for a 52-yard score.