Part of what has fueled the Patriots in their postseason run to Super Bowl LIII is their perception of a lack of respect from those outside the organization.
“I know everyone thinks we suck, and you know, can’t win any games,’’ Brady said after the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Chargers in the divisional round.
That sentiment was ratcheted up for the AFC Championship, where the Patriots were three-point underdogs heading to Kansas City.
As they prepare for the Super Bowl though, the Patriots may have a tough time playing the disrespect card. The Rams were initially listed as a one-point favorite, but after money started coming in on New England, the line moved to the Patriots as 1.5 point favorites.
In his news conference on Monday, Rams coach Sean McVay certainly was not going to provide bulletin board material when asked about facing the Patriots.
“A lot of respect for them. They’ve been doing it as consistently as any organization in the history of this league,’’ said McVay. “Gotten a chance to get to know coach [Bill] Belichick a little bit. Had a relationship with Josh McDaniels. Really, we practiced against those guys when I was in Washington early on and kind of kept in contact with them.
“They’re a team that you’re always watching the way they do things and you just have so much respect for the way that they’ve operated over the last handful of years. So, it’s going to be a great challenge — something that we’ll get started on as soon as we end up here.’’
When asked about what it will be like to face Brady, McVay compared it to what the team prepared for in the NFC Championship when they went up against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
“You’re talking about guys that have been doing it as consistent as anybody,’’ said McVay. “You just look at the amount of Super Bowl appearances that he’s had, just the way that he competes, the way that he plays the quarterback position the right way.
“When you’re teaching that position or coaching that position, whether it’s Drew or Tom, these are guys that they look — this is what it’s supposed to look like when you’re playing that position at a high level, with the decision making, the timing, the rhythm, the accuracy, the ownership of what they’re trying to get done. I have so much respect for him and he’s an elite competitor that, it’s going to be a great challenge, just like Drew Brees was for us last week.’’
McVay was asked about the officials’ decision in the NFC Championship to not to call a penalty on Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman for his early and high hit on Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis while Drew Brees’s third-down pass was still in the air.
“All we can do is control what we can control, and in a lot of instances those things are out of our control,’’ said McVay. “One of the things that I’ve loved about our team is whether we feel like a call works in our favor or against it, they just keep competing, eyes up, next play mindset and mentality.
“I’m not going to shy away from the fact that I did think it was a bang-bang play after the game. But when you slow it down, I’m not going to sit here and say there clearly wasn’t a little bit of contact before that ball actually arrived. But whether he catches it or not, there’s a lot of things that go into that. That one did work in our favor, but there were a couple instances where it didn’t, and we can’t control those things.’’
At 32, McVay will be the youngest head coach to lead his team in the Super Bowl, breaking Mike Tomlin’s record, who was 36 when the Pittsburgh Steelers reached Super Bowl XLIII. McVay’s youth showed when he talked about the last time the Rams won a Super Bowl, which was when the St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans, 23-16, in Super Bowl XXXIV on Jan. 30, 2000.
“I was so young at the time, but I remember it was a great game,’’ said McVay, who went on to talk about some of the players from both teams that played in the game, before concluding with, “My grandpa got us tickets and that was a good birthday present for me.’’