One More Step

February 1, 2008

The New England Patriots have dominated headlines throughout the entire NFL season, for both good and bad reasons. But through everything, they have managed to reach the Super Bowl to face the New York Giants at the University at Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and there are a number of reasons they should come away with their fourth Super Bowl in seven years, primarily, their outstanding focus. has the Patriots as 12-point favorites in this massive annual clash between the AFC and NFC champions.

Early in the season, the Patriots had to deal with “Spygate”, when they were caught stealing signals during their Week 1 38-14 rout of the New York Jets. The Patriots were deemed “cheaters”, and coach Bill Belichick was heavily fined. However, that only seemed to spur the Patriots, as they proceeded to beat their first nine opponents by at least 17 points in each game, including a 52-7 slaughter of the Washington Redskins. In the second half of the season, teams started to adjust to the Patriots’ high-powered offense, but New England still showed the poise to take close games, winning three games by three points or less. When the smoke cleared, the Patriots concluded their regular-season campaign with a 38-35 come-from-behind victory over the Giants in New York to become the first team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to finish with a perfect record. Quarterback Tom Brady was named the league’s MVP by throwing for a NFL-record 50 touchdowns, just one of many records that were broken by the Patriots in this historic season. Belichick also earned the NFL’s Coach of the Year award, as he managed to keep the Patriots on task and never let the shadow of their unbeaten season stand in the way of their common goal, which was to reach the Super Bowl. This is a trend that has continued throughout the postseason.

So, what are the keys for the Patriots when they take to the field in Arizona? First and foremost, the health of Brady is a major issue. It has been reported he is hurting after he was pictured with a cast on his foot following the AFC championship game against San Diego. Brady says he will be ready to go for the big game, while the rest of the Patriots have remained tight-lipped about the situation. Rest assured, Brady will play in this game, and he should receive ample protection from his offensive line, which is one of the best in the league. Another major factor will be the play of receiver Randy Moss, who broke San Francisco legend Jerry Rice’s touchdown-reception mark with 23. Moss has been quiet in this postseason, and matters were not helped when he had a restraining order placed on him by a woman in Florida. But Belichick is a master game-planner, and he is the best coach in the NFL at keeping his team focused in the face of numerous distractions. This should be the edge that will put the finishing touches on New England’s glorious season.

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