Brady likes makeup of this Patriots' team
The Patriots advanced to Super Bowl XLVI, the
team's fifth Super Bowl trip under Bill Belichick since 2001, with a
game that many didn't think the team could play. The 23-20 win pushed
the AFC's No. 1 seed to a matchup with the New York Giants at Lucas Oil
Stadium in Indianapolis.
While New England certainly needed some good
fortune to advance - Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field
goal with 11 seconds to play that would have sent the game into
overtime, that play a snap after Joe Flacco appeared to hit Lee Evans
for a touchdown that was knocked away at the last second - the team
also put forth another in a line of resilient efforts this season.
On paper the Patriots look like an offense first,
finesse football team that's had to outscore each opponent on the way
to the Super Bowl thanks to a defense that ranked 31st in the NFL
during the regular season.
But Sunday's AFC title win in Foxborough showed a
Patriots team that played a tough, physical-style game that in many
ways was played on the Ravens terms, yet New England came away with the
The Patriots defense has taken its lumps over the
course of the year, but it's confidence is at a high point heading into
the biggest game of the year.
"We all know the saying, 'Defense wins
championships.' And our guys came out and played 60 minutes and look at
the outcome," linebacker Brandon Spikes barked after beating the Ravens
and silencing some critics. "What can you say? Talk is cheap."
LB Spikes holds his interception of Joe
Flacco vs Ravens 1/22/12 (Elsa/Getty Images)
Quarterback Tom Brady, owner of three Super Bowl
rings, knows a little something about championship caliber teams and
he's feeling pretty good about the makeup the Patriots have shown on
the road to the biggest game on the sporting landscape.
"We won 10 straight games and they haven't all
been pretty," Brady said. "We've started slow, we've started fast. The
offense has played really well at times; the defense has played really
well at times. It's a pretty mentally tough team. There's really some
resiliency, we've shown that all season. Even in the games we've lost,
the three games we lost, we fought until the end.
"We're always going to fight to the end. It's
great to be a part of a team like this. It's tough to get here, man.
It's hard to win these games. It's hard to win games in the NFL because
every team is very talented. We did enough here the last 10 weeks to win
these games. I'm sure this next game is going to come down to the end
and hopefully we have enough plays."
LINEUP WATCH: It's hard to say that wide receiver
Julian Edelman playing slot corner is an experiment considering it's
been going on for nearly two months. Edelman saw significant reps at
the spot lined up opposite Anquan Boldin in the AFC title game. While
Boldin led the Ravens with six catches for 101 yards, New England's
patchwork secondary did enough to come away victorious. And the college
quarterback-turned NFL wide receiver-turned defensive back Edelman was
a part of the collective effort.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 - The number of Super Bowls Tom
Brady has led the Patriots to in his 12-year career, joining John Elway
as the only other quarterback in NFL history to lead a team to five
ever called the deep pass in the end zone in double coverage, that
resulted in a int, please dont call any plays in the super
"Sterling Moore just saved the game. Amazing back-to-back plays."
--WR Chad Ochocinco was a healthy scratchg for the
AFC title game against the Ravens. Ochocinco reportedly returned to the
Patriots on Sunday after flying to Florida to attend the funeral of his
father earlier in the week.
--RB Stevan Ridley was a healthy scratch against
Baltimore, the first time the rookie was inactive in 2011. The
third-round pick lost a fumble to the Broncos in the divisional round
after also fumbling in the regular-season finale.
--OT Sebastian Vollmer was inactive for the
seventh straight game with back and foot injuries. Vollmer was inactive
for 10 of the 16 regular-season games and both playoff contests.
--CB Kyle Arrington left the first half of
Sunday's game against the Ravens with an eye injury, but returned in
the second half.
--TE Rob Gronkowski limped off with an ankle
injury against the Ravens, but returned later in the game to help New
England to victory. The All Pro did leave Gillette Stadium in a walking
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