Jan 292002

F rom the bars of South Boston to the woods of the Berkshires, New England fans are celebrating. From the peaks of the Green Mountains to the ports of Pawtucket, their spirits are riding high. From the lobster shacks of Portland to the streets of Hartford, the Patriots have given them a reason to smile. The Pats are going to the Super Bowl!

In the most improbable of seasons since, well, uh, 1996, the Pats have somehow found a way to the Big Game, only to face one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history. But to be honest, that doesn’t really matter to us chowdah-heads. We’ve been here before as 14-point underdogs in two Super Bowls, and yes, we did lose both but somehow, it seems, things will be different.

First of all, we have the best backup (and the highest paid) quarterback in the history of the NFL.

Second, we already played the Rams in week 10 and lost by only a touchdown. Consider the fact that running back Antowain Smith fumbled on the one-yard-line and quarterback Tom Brady threw an interception in the redzone and it should have been a Patriots win.

Third, if anyone in the NFL can come up with a defensive scheme to stop the Rams, it is Bill Belichick. The guy is a defensive mastermind – just look at how the New England defense shut down the Steelers’ powerful running game last week. If the Patriots can win the possession game and the turnover ratio, we could be in for an upset of epic proportions.

I know what you’re thinking: “This guy’s elevator isn’t stopping at every floor.” But hey, I’m a New England sports fan and hope is all we got. It’s been a long time since a championship banner was hung in any New England sports facility, and the Patriots have yet to win their first Super Bowl. But how will they do it? To start Bledsoe or Brady – that is the question.

If Brady is healthy, then there is no doubt in my mind he will get the start. He led the team to the position they’re in now and if the Patriots bench him, then I’m going for the Rams. Although his off-the-bench effort against Pittsburgh was a superb, clutch performance, there is a reason why Belichick kept Bledsoe on the pine after he recovered from his injuries this season. Bledsoe is a good throwing quarterback, but one of his weaknesses is that he cannot move in the pocket. NFL quarterbacks have to be mobile and this is something Bledsoe simply does not bring to the table. Just look at the scramble Brady made in the snow to score a touchdown against the Raiders. Bledsoe would not have been able to make that play; it probably would have been another stalled red-zone attempt that I’d gotten used to seeing before Brady took over.

So if the game isn’t decided before halftime, then look out for the Patriots. No one thought they would beat the Raiders, and no one gave them a chance against the Steelers, so why not the Rams? The people of New England have been waiting for a long time for this and we may very well have to wait a lot longer. But you can bet the collective breath of New England will be held until the game is decided on Sunday.

Oh, yeah – the Yankees suck, too.

Jason is a junior journalism major. Email him your Super Bowl predictions at graziadei44@hotmail.com

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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