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Dispatches from Indy: Fake controversy

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  January 30, 2012 11:17 AM

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Even by the usual standards of tabloid Super Bowl hype, which is to say that there are very few standards at all, this is absurd.

As I wrote last night, the New York tabloids are all over Tom Brady for daring to suggest that the Patriots just might win Super Bowl 46 and perhaps would be welcomed home warmly by their fans should they do so.

Actually, he wasn't even that bold. Here are his precise words from yesterday's pep rally at Gillette Stadium:

"We're going down there, and we're going down there for one reason. We're going to give it our best and hopefully we have a lot more people at our party next weekend."

If anything, it was a pretty uninspiring rallying cry from Brady. The one thing you're going down there for is . . . "to give it our best"? Whoa, now there's some bulletin board material right there.

So what do the New York tabs turn it into?

Oh, just this:

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And this:

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Talk about making something out of nothing -- actually, that should probably be the papers' slogan.

A half-dozen Giants will be available to the media later this afternoon. It will be interesting to see whether any are genuinely annoyed by Brady's milquetoast pep rally comments. Athletes do love milking those perceived slights as motivation, whether they're real, imagined, or quotes twisted and exaggerated beyond recognition on the back page.

* * *

greeensllisfinn.jpgPop quiz: Who is the Patriots all-time leading rusher in the postseason?

OK, so Corey Dillon, the workhorse on the stacked 2004 champs, might not be the most difficult answer to deduce. Dillon had 508 yards in eight postseason games during his three seasons in New England.

I'll only briefly mention my perpetual lament that Curtis Martin should be first on this list, and it's with a respectful smile that we acknowledge Kevin Faulk is third (425 yards in 19 games).

So who is second? Perhaps this will surprise you, and perhaps it won't should you occasionally reacquaint yourself with "Three Games to Glory,'' but the is two-time Super Bowl champion Antowain Smith, who ran for 456 yards in six career games.

I bring this up not only as a reminder that Smith was an essential if unspectacular contributor to the Patriots' first two champions, but because he set the blueprint a decade ago for an approach that may benefit the Patriots Sunday.

In Super Bowl XXXVI, Smith ran for 92 yards on 18 carries in the Patriots' 20-17 victory over the Rams. (That's one more carry and 16 more yards than the Rams' celebrated Marshall Faulk had in the game.) Two years later, he ran 26 times for 83 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, as the Patriots beat the Panthers, 32-29, in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Through two games this postseason, BenJarvus Green-Ellis has run for a total output similar to Smith's in that second Super Bowl -- 28 carries, 96 yards, and a score.

Sunday, however, it is not difficult to envision him having a game similar to Smith's first Super Bowl. With the Giants' ferocious front four frothing at the mouth to get a shot at Tom Brady, and with Rob Gronkowski likely to be something less than 100 percent, it makes sense that the Patriots would mix in the run a little more early in the game.

Green-Ellis ran as well as he has all season against the Ravens, he's healthy, he does not fumble . . . and he might just be the wild-card in the Patriots' plan of attack.

So what if he's not flashy. Emulating what Antowain Smith did seems a pretty effective way of becoming a champion.

* * *

Indianapolis is a nice city. Or should I say, the people are extraordinarily nice in that unassuming Midwestern way. Inevitably, the cheeriness makes you like the city even if the official color seems to be slate and the architecture is best described as practical.

That was supposed to be a compliment, even if it doesn't read that way upon further review.

There is one small part of Indianapolis that is sure to generate warm feelings among Boston sports fans. And no, it's not a mural of all of Peyton Manning's crushing losses to the Patriots through the years.

Driving into the city along West Drive, just before arriving at media headquarters at the J.W. Marriott hotel, there's a small brown street sign near a block of businesses, museums, and, of all things, the NCAA headquarters. On the sign it reads:

"Robert D. Orr Plaza."

Now, every New Englander of a certain generation knows Bobby Orr's middle name does not begin with a D -- he's the esteemed Robert Gordon Orr, the greatest hockey player ever to lace 'em up, and don't give me that Gretzky stuff.

But it's just close enough that it stands as a nice reminder of home, where the people aren't always so friendly until you earn it, the architecture is often timeless and spectacular, and there's no debate over the greatest quarterback of this generation, let alone the greatest hockey player of all time.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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