The countdown to kickoff is on. In a event that is reminiscent of Lawyer Milloy’s press conference prior to the AFC Championship game in Pittsburgh two years, Michael Felger reports on a session that Rodney Harrison had with the Indy press that had a bit of an edge to it. Jeff Jacobs also looks at Harrison’s comments. Mike Reiss tells us that the 40 seconds between the end of one play and the next snap is where this game is going to be won or lost. Alan Greenberg looks at a Patriots club made up as a team and not individual stars. Joe McDonald says this will be a poker match for the ages. Eric McHugh says the Patriots have used their entire roster to get this far. Ian M. Clark says the Patriots defense sneaks up on it’s foes. Most of today’s articles focus on one player. So if you’re the casual fan who hasn’t paid a whole lot of attention to the team and has just come on board here recently, these articles might be good for you. For the hardcore fans, they might be a bit of a disappointment, as you might be thirsting for more indepth analysis of the matchups. But here goes with the player articles. John Powers has an article on Richard Seymour, who is one of the prime stoppers in the NFL. Tom Curran has a piece on rookie safety Eugene Wilson, who isn’t going to be intimidated playing in his first AFC Title game. He’s put the first game with the Colts out of his mind. Michael Smith has an article on rookie receiver/kick returner Bethel Johnson, who was dynamic in the first meeting between the teams. It was a little amusing to read Smith describing Johnson as baby-faced (which he is.) Smith and Johnson are the same age. Glen Farley also has a look at Johnson. Rich Thompson chats with Dedric Ward about this team’s unselfish nature. Dan Shaughnessy looks at Tom Brady, and compares his matchup with Peyton Manning as a Russell/Chamberlain type duel. Michael O’Connor looks at tight end Christian Fauria, who is hoping to just stay as even as possible through the playoffs. Frank Dell’Apa has a piece on Matt Light, who will have his hands full, and likely get some help in protecting Tom Brady’s backside on Sunday. Karen Guregian looks at clutch kicker Adam Vinatieri. Thompson also has a piece on rookie center Dan Koppen. O’Connor also has a bit on Joe Andruzzi, who has been the mainstay on the offensive line. Bob Fedas reviews the Patriots history in AFC Title games. Lenny Megliola looks at a 41 year old Patriots fan battling Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Felger’s notebook says the Pats are keeping their defensive game plan under tight wraps this week. Smith’s notebook says this is the most comprehensive test the Patriots have faced this year. McDonald’s notebook has Bill Belichick keeping his team level. Reiss’ notebook says that Ken Walter likes the cold.
The Globe staffers make their picks. They all pick the Patriots, with the exception of Ron Borges who predicts a 24-20 Colts victory. Yet in his matchups, he gives the overall edge to the Patriots “by a ring finger”. Speaking of Borges, the flap that came about last weekend with the eery similarity between a section of his Sunday article and one written by Len Pasquarelli on Friday has been investigated by the Globe, and they are certain that Borges did his own work there. In an email sent to many readers who had written in on the incident, Sports Editor Don Skwar said that
"Although there were only two sentences that were similar, we nonetheless, because of the similarity of the anecdote, checked into it. Ron said he didn't get the language from Mr. Pasquarelli. We can't speak for Mr. Pasquarelli, but we contacted the source of the anecdote, and he affirmed that Ron did his own reporting. Ron wrote the item based on the information he received from that source."
So there it is. They checked it out, and he came out clean.
A great article is in The Atlantic, and it focuses on Eagles center Hank Fraley, but the Patriots figure large in the story as well.
That’s all I have time for right at the moment.