Smiles, on further review
FOXBOROUGH -- Tomorrow night's game against the Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., will bring back plenty of memories for Patriots fans. After all, many of them have popped in the tape of the Patriots' 32-29 Super Bowl victory from last February, sat back, and enjoyed one of New England's landmark sports moments. Turns out, Bill Belichick has, too.
Four or five times since the Patriots captured their second Super Bowl in three years, Belichick has watched the tape not for preparation or game planning but for sheer enjoyment, a departure from the all-business, everything-must-have-a-purpose perception of the coach.
"I definitely enjoyed it," Belichick said, a rare smile on his face. "It has a happy ending.
"But, it has been a while. It really has. It has been a while, and when I see it now, I don't see it that same way. I see it from more of an evaluation and technical standpoint as I watch it this week. But, back in March and February, sure [I watched it for fun]."
He didn't get the chance to do that as much with the Patriots' first Super Bowl win, against the Rams. And after he won a Super Bowl with the Giants as defensive coordinator in 1990, he didn't get a chance to view the tape because, a week later, the Browns hired him as their coach.
So he savors this game a little more. His usual viewing, he said, came when he would enter his living room and find his children watching the game. How does he spend the time in front of the tube?
"Just kind of hoping that the end turns out well," Belichick joked. "You know, that Adam [Vinatieri] is going to make the kick."
Not all the Patriots have watched the game for fun. Guard Joe Andruzzi, for one, said the first time he had seen the tape was earlier this week, when the Patriots watched the film to scout the Panthers.
But Belichick, surprisingly, has value for the tape other than gaining a competitive edge.
"I like it a lot, yeah," he said. "I've watched it maybe four or five times. I haven't counted them, but it hasn't been 100. But it has been more than one."
No matter what he does on the field, one thing won't change for Rohan Davey.
"The confidence in how I play my game," Davey said, "never goes anywhere."
That might have been a challenge after his first two exhibition games auditioning for the backup quarterback job. After saving a dismal performance against Philadelphia with two late touchdown passes, he played even worse against the Bengals. Davey completed 10 of 24 passes for 86 yards with one interception. He was sacked twice and compiled a 34.4 quarterback rating.
"Every time you go out there, you want to play your best," Davey said. "Some circumstances might arise that may diminish your performance or whatever. You go out, you put in the work, you put in the time, do all the things that prepare you for performing on Sunday. Sometimes, the outcome is not what you want."
Davey's struggles were somewhat overlooked after the game because, well, everyone in blue and silver struggled. But the outing was troubling, given the Patriots' need to find a capable backup for Tom Brady.
Despite his poor showings, Davey believes he has proven he should be the backup. He might be right, thanks to his season in NFL Europe and his mostly solid play in training camp. Now, it has to carry over to the games.
"I think my progress, and the way everything is going on the reps and getting an opportunity to play and get out there, it's been good," Davey said. "It's not frustrating. You have good games and you have bad games. You just try to have more good ones than bad ones. As far as taking it from the practice field to the game, there's definitely a few situations in the game you'd like to have back. But I think I've had steady progress."
Want to know how highly Belichick thinks of the Patriots' performance last Saturday against the Bengals? After fielding a question about the 31-3 loss, the coach asked, "Do you want to list the highlights from last week?" Then, he paused briefly. "OK, well, that didn't take long." . . . Veteran receiver J.J. Stokes, who appeared in two games for the Patriots last season, was released . . . Ah, the esoteric ways of offensive linemen. To get a rise out of teammates, Andruzzi, Matt Light, and Dan Koppen placed a toy alarm -- which Andruzzi called a "BS meter" -- next to players giving interviews in the locker room before practice yesterday. Each time it loudly went off, the trio laughed hysterically. "It never gets old," Andruzzi said. Most other Patriots seemed confused or uninterested.
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