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Ailing Law restored order

FOXBOROUGH -- It's no secret that Ty Law can talk just about as good a game as he plays.

His improbable return and subsequent contribution to yesterday's 23-16 win over the Jets at Gillette Stadium after suffering what appeared to be a severe injury to his right ankle is as much a testament to his physical gifts as it is to his gift of gab.

"It was never a doubt whether I wanted to go back in, it was up to the trainers," said Law, who made a three-time-Pro Bowler-type play in the fourth quarter despite a limp. "So I had to keep on going over there and running and running, trying to fake them out, holding the grimace. I wanted to get back in there. I'm never the type to sit down and not participate. It was just a point of going back in there sucking it up and dealing with the pain."

Take our word for it: It hurt just to look at it.

Fifty-five seconds remained in the second quarter when Vinny Testaverde attempted a pass to tight end Anthony Becht along the Jets' sideline. Becht, Roman Phifer, who was trailing on the play, and Law all went up for the ball. Law came down first, and Phifer fell on his teammate's right ankle. Law immediately clutched his lower leg and lay for several moments on the field in obvious pain. He had to be helped off, in the opinion of most of the part-time doctors among the 68,436 on hand, the prognosis was not good. "It looked like it was a pretty bad injury," quarterback Tom Brady said.

"In the beginning, I was like `Oh, my God!' because of the way it felt," Law said. "But injuries happen, it's very seldom that you're going to go out and play in the NFL and not have some kind of nagging injury or ache or pain or something like that."

Law has been quite durable during his eight-plus seasons in New England, playing in every game the past two seasons and missing only three since 1997. In 1999 he played a game against the Colts and Marvin Harrison with a fractured hand protected by a soft cast before undergoing surgery to insert pins in the hand and going on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Honestly? It looked like Law was headed back there yesterday. But he walked to the locker room once the half ended, then spent the third quarter testing the ankle -- and his coach's patience -- on the sideline.

"You've got to do a little bit of talking," Law said. "I had to prove to them that I can run, that's why I kept running on the sideline trying to show them that I could go in. Coach Belichick definitely doesn't like you in his ear talking about you want to get back in, so I took a couple of chances saying, `I want to go back in.' "

He returned -- conveniently -- with 10:25 to go in the game, the defensive series after Testaverde and Chrebet hooked up for a 29-yard touchdown that brought the Jets within a TD. On the next New York possession, Law nearly picked off a deep pass intended for speedster Santana Moss, despite an obvious hitch in his giddy-up.

"We were out there in man-to-man," said Law, who, in defending Moss, put on a clinic on how to hand-check a receiver and get away with it. "You would think they would call a few more zones, but that's what you ask for, and that's what you're gonna get."

Law also knew that by toughing it out, he was running the risk of getting picked on -- even by Jets coach and friend Herman Edwards, who cared enough to check on Law while he was down. "[Edwards] asked me if I was all right," Law said. "I said, `Yeah, I'm all right.' You know that when you're in the game, they're going to test you. It happened right on their sideline. Any smart coach or quarterback would test you. It's in the spirit of the game."

Law's competitive spirit would not allow him to miss any more of it than necessary. "We're already down numbers [Ted Johnson, Rosevelt Colvin, Ted Washington, Mike Vrabel] as it is and it was important for me to go back out there," he said.

He said he expects to play against the Redskins next week. "I'm trying not to come back down here at 6:30 in the morning [for treatment], that's another reason why I was out there," he said. "I'm fine. It's nothing that's going to stop me from being out there."

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