Pats realize increased significance of Super Bowl XLII
Posted: Monday January 28, 2008 3:14PM; Updated: Tuesday January 29, 2008 6:44PM
PHOENIX -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as the circus known as Super Bowl XLII cranks to life ...
It has been the elephant in their locker room all season, but now that the task of completing their perfect season and winning a fourth Super Bowl ring is one in the same on their to-do list, the Patriots are actually acknowledging that this is more than just another trip to the NFL's championship game.
It took continuing my line of questioning to a third query, but I actually got New England defensive lineman Richard Seymour to admit Sunday night that a football team can't possibly go into a game with more on the line than to be playing in the Super Bowl at 18-0. What scenario could possibly hold more significance than that? The Patriots' perfect-season storyline makes this game far more historically meaningful than arguably all but one of the previous 41 Super Bowls. That's just the fact of the matter.
"We've written a story, and it's a story that's never been written before,'' said Seymour, finally dropping the pretense that this just happens to be the next game on New England's schedule. "It's about closing it out the right way. We all know that these next few days of preparation for us can have a life-long impact on our legacies. Each Super Bowl is different in its own regard, but this one is extra special for us. We understand what's at hand. This would be mentioned in history, and that says a lot in itself.''
There, that wasn't so hard. Bill Belichick might still be side-stepping every perfect-season question with a variation of "There will be a time to reflect on everything, but this isn't it,'' but his players seem to realize that talking about it only underlines the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at hand.
Even Tom Brady, who normally blands down everything to make sure it passes the Patriots' censors, is open in discussing the sense of history that surrounds Sunday's game. "We've talked as a team that for the rest of our lives we'll all remember this week, win or lose,'' he said. "I told everyone that whatever you may think may be important this next week, it's really not that important, because this week will have an impact on the rest of your life.''
That's what I'm talking about. That's what makes Super Bowl XLII more than just another Roman-numeraled affair. It could be another 35 years before another team puts itself into the position the Patriots are now in. The ring isn't the only thing this week. The ring of perfection is.
If the Patriots do finish the job, there won't be anything cheap about their accomplishment. Think about this: New England has won five games against four of their fellow divisions champions (at Dallas, at Indianapolis, and home against Pittsburgh and San Diego, in the regular season and the playoffs).
The Patriots also beat three wild-card playoff teams: Washington, Jacksonville and the Giants. And if they defeat New York again on Sunday, they'll have beaten a conference champion and own nine different wins against teams that won at least 10 games this season (including the 10-6 Browns). Can't knock that.
Valley of the Sun my butt. There were day-long rains and flash flood warnings here on Sunday, and at times it was absolutely monsoon-like during the Patriots media session Sunday night at their team hotel in Scottsdale. Who packs an umbrella when they're headed to Phoenix? Not me, obviously.
We're in the desert, but I'm thinking the sand will still be drying out until Wednesday or so. I asked a waiter at dinner Sunday night how often they get a rainy day like Sunday: "Maybe one every six months or so,'' he said. "Maybe.''
They led with the story of the rain and the floods on the local TV news here Sunday night like it was end-of-the-world, wrath-of-God-type stuff. Said one local TV weather guy: "You don't understand folks, we don't get weather here in Phoenix. This is big.''
Great. When I left home in Boston Sunday morning, it was snowing. When I landed six hours late in Phoenix, it was raining. Could we just move the Super Bowl to San Diego and leave it there in perpetuity?
Forget Brady's bad wheel. Did you see No. 12 tempting fate by standing coat-less and with a scarf-less open collar in the sub-freezing chill Sunday morning at the Patriots' Super Bowl send-off at Gillette Stadium? Tommy Terrific looked a little too cool for his own -- and his team's -- good if you ask me.
I wonder how Belichick would classify a case of pneumonia on the injury report?