"Four years removed from that game," says Hochstein, "and it still haunts me. That was a hard, hard loss. And after winning every game up to that point. That game was for perfection, and we didn't get it. We're all still proud of what we did that season, but that game dulled it. Losing that Super Bowl dulled what we accomplished."
Kyle Brady remembers dead silence in the last NFL postgame locker room he would ever dress in as a player. "Just kind of a shocked feeling," he said. "People overuse the term team of destiny. We knew we had to go out and earn it. All year you never let it cross your mind that you might lose a game, and then it happens. Yeah, it's a shock."
Outside, on the floor of the stadium, Mitchell found his family and then wandered, splendidly exhausted among teammates. He is all but retired now, after being cut by New Orleans last summer, and breaks out his Super Bowl ring for official NFL functions or when his kids ask him to wear it. It helps him remember. "A lot of hitting in that game," he says. "Hard hitting. It was fun. Back and forth to the end. Watching David Tyree up on the screen. And then afterward, just walking around on the field. Amazing feeling."
So this is what awaits: silence inside or jubilation out. Familiar teams, familiar tactics. Act Two.