FOXBOROUGH — Less than 24 hours after the Patriots had clinched their third straight Super Bowl berth, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon said he already had moved on from the highs of the thrilling overtime win in the AFC Championship Sunday.
“I’m done with that,’’ Cannon told reporters at Gillette Stadium Monday afternoon. “AFC Championship’s cool, but there are other cool things out there.’’
Cannon and the Patriots wasted no time following their 37-31 victory at Arrowhead Stadium, returning to Foxborough for meetings Monday. With two weeks until Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, Cannon said there’s plenty of time to prepare for the Los Angeles Rams.
The offensive line didn’t watch any film Monday, but Cannon expects to dive into the tape soon. A trio of formidable linemen —
Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Dante Fowler Jr. — anchors the Rams’ defensive front seven. Donald, who inked a $135 million contract extension this summer, recorded a league-high 20½ sacks this season.
“They’re the best defense right now,’’ Cannon said.
If Sunday’s game was any indication, however, the Patriots’ O-line will put up quite a fight. Kansas City’s defense registered just one hit on quarterback Tom Brady and was held without a sack. Although Cannon and center David Andrews acknowledged that the crowd noise affected their communication, the group was not flagged for any false starts or other penalties at the line of scrimmage.
“That’s just a testament to the work that was put in all week,’’ Andrews said. “It was frustrating in practice at times with the music and all that stuff going on, but it was a realistic feel for what it was like. It was hard to communicate, but guys were locked in and disciplined all day.’’
“It wasn’t easy,’’ added Cannon, who attributed the line’s success to the chemistry among him, Andrews, Brady, and guard Shaq Mason. “It was loud.’’
Andrews also gave a shout-out to positional coach Dante Scarnecchia. After joining the Patriots staff in 1982, Scarnecchia has been leading the offensive line since 1999.
“Scar’s been awesome,’’ Andrews said. “He’s been a tough coach to play for at times, but you know there’s benefits to the way he’s coaching. The way he harps on us is to get our best. He knows what our best is, and we still haven’t reached that. We’ll go back to work this week.’’
Special teams captain Matthew Slater owes his father a big thank you.
To start the overtime period Sunday, Slater called heads, as he always does, on the coin toss. Sure enough, the Patriots won the toss and elected to receive — reminiscent of the Super Bowl LI win two years ago.
So, why does Slater never call tails?
“Well, I remember as a child watching my father play in LA and him going out and doing the coin toss for the Rams,’’ Slater said. “He always called heads, so I asked him one time, ‘Hey, why do you do that? What’s the story behind that?’
“I think anyone who knows my family knows faith is important to us, and for him, he was always like, ‘You know, God’s the head of my life, so I call heads.’ That was something he came up with and I’ve kind of just embraced it.’’
Though Slater doesn’t know his official coin toss record, he’s just thankful the “two biggest ones’’ he was involved in
worked in the Patriots’ favor. In the three postseason overtime games Brady has played in, New England’s opponents have never touched the ball.
“I’m glad it’s worked out for us here the last couple times when we needed it,’’ Slater said.
As for Slater’s father, Jackie Slater, who spent his entire 20-year career as an offensive tackle with the Rams organization, will he have any struggles with his allegiances in the Super Bowl?
“We had a good conversation,’’ Slater said. “He’s going to support his son, so we cleared the air on that last night and we’re all squared away.’’
Love is all around
Coach Bill Belichick still has no interest in addressing reports of tension within the Patriots.
Asked about the “issues’’ between himself and Brady during his weekly WEEI appearance Monday, Belichick interrupted the question.
“I am not going to get into a bunch of gossip,’’ he said.
After Rex Burkhead’s game-winning touchdown Sunday, cameras captured Belichick and Brady’s embrace on the field, in which the pair said to each other, “I love you.’’
“I said that to a lot of guys last night,’’ Belichick said on WEEI. “I love this team. I love our players. I love the way they played. I loved the way they played and competed last night. It wasn’t perfect, but they gave everything they had, and that is all you can ask for as a coach.’’
TV ratings were huge
The Patriots’ victory was a thriller of a football game, with the huge television ratings to match.
The telecast earned a 31.2 rating and a 48 share nationally, making it the most-watched television program (not just sporting event) since the Patriots’ loss to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII in February.
In the Boston market, the game earned a massive 58.5 rating and 76 share. It is the second-highest-rated game in franchise history in the local market, trailing only the Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seahawks (61.0 rating).
Overall, it was the highest-rated late-window conference championship game nationally since the Giants-49ers matchup on Fox on Jan. 22, 2012. (33.4/48).
The Boston market was actually the second-highest nationally. The broadcast drew a 60.1/83 in Kansas City.