On The Scene Sports
The Old vs The New
By Andrew Rosario
Atlanta, Ga.- What a difference 17 years make. The 2002 Super Bowl, played in New Orleans, featured the high flying St. Louis Rams against the neophyte New England Patriots. The Rams boasted “The Greatest Show on Turf” with a high powered offense led by QB Kurt Warner who got the starting job by default. The Patriots were guided by little known Michigan QB Tom Brady as then starter Drew Bledsoe lost his spot due to an injury late in the season. The backdrop of the game came on the heels of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 as the game was delayed 1 week as no games were played the Sunday after the attacks.
No one gave New England much of a chance against a Rams team whose offense resembled a video game. Yet, when it was over, a new dynasty was created. Much to the chagrin of all football fans outside of the New England/Boston area.
So after two riveting championship games, where both outcomes will be remembered by shoddy officiating, it prompted Falcons owner Arthur Blank to chime in saying “the league takes these kinds of situations very seriously,” when asked if instant replay will include challenge flags on pass interference plays. “It is the backbone of what we do.”
Little consolation to the fans of New Orleans and Kansas City who will watch the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams take the field at Mercedes Benz Stadium Sunday, home of his Falcons. The same Atlanta team that has not recovered from their monumental collapse at the hands of Brady and Co. two years ago. The Patriots are looking to avenge last year’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and are making an unprecedented 9th Super Bowl appearance under head coach Bill Belichick who has known only 1 QB (Brady) to take the organization to the promised land. They have played a NFL record 11 times in the most watched sporting event in North America.
The Rams however are guided by the youngest head coach and third youngest QB to ever get to the last game of the year. Sean McVay turned a ripe 33 years old while Jared Goff is 24. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger at 23 years old is the youngest QB to win the Lombardi trophy when they beat Seattle in 2005. Miami’s Dan Marino (eight months younger than Big Ben) is the youngest to start a Super Bowl game when they lost to the San Fransisco 49ers in 1985. New England is on the opposite end of the age spectrum as Belichick is 66 and Brady is 41.
Monday night both teams convened at the Mercedes Benz Stadium for the annual media day circus previously held on Tuesday afternoon as the NFL powers that be thought it be a good idea to air the event during prime time for both ESPN and the NFL network. Despite the more than 2,000 media members, the New York Beacon was able to get off questions
to McVay, Goff and defensive tackle Aaron Donald whom many consider to be the best defensive player of the year.
NYB: Sean, how do you gage your players to make sure that they are not to high or to low going into the game?
SV: I think what you really try to do is you try to be consistent with the way that you approach it. Our players have a nice confidence and swagger about themselves. We talk about it all the time. That confidence is earned. It is earned through the way that we prepare, the way we plan, the way we practice. So that it can lead to a good performance. We feel like that confidence will lead in a big game to play with a quieted mind. If you can go into that game with the confidence that’s when we fell our players will be at their best.
Goff was short and succinct when asked what he thought was the key for them offensively in order for them to come away with the victory.
NYB: Jared, if there is one thing to avoid going into the game on Sunday in order for you to come away with the win, what would that be?
Goff: Take care of the ball. No turnovers. You gotta take care of the ball and keep it out of their hands.
One of the biggest tests the Rams defense will be up against is getting to Tom Brady. What he lacks in mobility, he makes up by getting the ball out of his hands quickly. Something Donald is well aware of.
NYB: How difficult is it to defend an offense, especially a guy like Brady who gets rid of the ball as quickly as he does?
Donald: They got a good running game and Tom Brady do what he do. We gotta do our job.
NYB: Edelman’s been one of their big weapons. How do you slow him down?
Donald: We got some good DB’s (defensive backs).
The more than 10k in attendance roared when asked how many were there to root for the Patriots. They erupted again when the players were introduced. Belichick, Brady, Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski’s podium was justifiably flooded. Belichick trademark brief reply was in full effect.
NYB: When you hear that Tom Brady wants to play until he’s 45, what is your reaction?
Belichick: Tom works hard and trains hard. He probably will.
NYB: You think he can be effective?
Belichick: We’ll see. He’ll work hard at it.
In the overtime game against the Chiefs, Brady completed 3 passes of 10 yards to keep the drive going leading to the winning touchdown. Two passes went to Edelman.
NYB: Talk about the chemistry between you and Tom and how long did it take to develop:
Edelman: I think chemistry is continually trying to develop. It evolves and it happens through repitition and going out and practicing with the team. Your continually trying to earn each other’s trust that way.
Tight end Rob Gronksowski enjoys life off the field as much as he does on the field. He showed that when he went shark diving in the off season. It would be no surprise if Sunday is his last game. Win or lose.
NYB: At this point in your career, how much more gratifying is it to get to where you are right now?
Gronkowski: You know, when I started, i never thought i would be where i am now. I appreciate every moment of it. I just learned from veteran players throughout the years at how to make it. How to keep on going. How to stay in shape, how to keep the body going. Just kind of keep the grind going. It’s just special to be here again.
NYB: Are you going to go shark diving again?
Gronkowski: I enjoyed that. It was really cool.
As expected the closest the NY Beacon got to Brady was close enough to get a picture. Comedian/actor JB Smooth asked more questions than the accredited media. Just what the NFL network and ESPN was looking for.
So it will come down to the veteran head coach/QB combination against a youthful head coach and QB who both would probably be carded if they went to purchase alcohol. Betting against the Patriots is never wise. In this case however, the New York Beacon sees the Rams coming out on top 35-31.
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