GLENDALE, Ariz. — Coming to you live from Row 2 Seat 85 in the University of Phoenix Stadium, a few scattered thoughts while awaiting the justification of the hype …
I’m curious if your perspective has shifted over the last two weeks in terms of how this game might play out. Mine has, and the countdown to game time turns from hours to minutes, I think it is again.
After the Patriots dissected the not-ready-for-prime-time Colts, I was convinced they’d do the same to Seattle. All of the Deflategate baloney at the beginning of last week only enhanced the idea that the Patriots would unleash pure and utter vengeance on the Seahawks, punish them to the point that you wondered if the Seattle offensive line was made up of John Harbaugh, Jim Irsay, Roger Goodell, Chris Mortensen, and that weathervane-chasing scold, Peter King.
But as the week went on, and the reminders of Seattle’s talent and confidence were relentlessly evident, I remembered — like a reminder should have been necessary — that there really are two exceptional teams in this game, and unless something very unexpected changes its course, it’s most going to be a close one. I picked the Patriots to win by 3, and I’m sticking with it.
If you’re going to tell me that one team wins this game big, I’ll tell you that it will be a different team than the one that won big last year. The Seahawks are not blowing them out, but if circumstances align and those three big-time and beaten-up Seahawks defensive backs aren’t themselves, the Patriots could blow them out.
So then, an amendment: The Patriots are either winning by 3 … or 23. I still believe it’s the former. But I also believe that this team, this well-rounded, smart and deeply talented team, is capable of seizing the day in a way that leaves no doubt about who deserves to depart Arizona with the Lombardi Trophy
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My frame of reference is fairly small — this is the second Super Bowl I’ve covered, the first being in Indy three years ago. I’ve been to the Vancouver and London Olympics, and covered the Bruins and Red Sox in the postseason. But I have never seen more security in a condensed area in my life than there is at this stadium this afternoon. It’s both comforting and jarring to have to pass three layers of security — not including the computer-bag-sniffing dogs — just to get within a short walk of the stadium.
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The suspicion, based on his relatively engaging mood, is that Bill Belichick has figured out something about the Seahawks that he can exploit. My hunch: It’s Russell Wilson when he puts the ball in the air. Keep having this vision of Rob Ninkovich crashing into Wilson just as he lets go of a throw, with Darrelle Revis snagging the off-target throw and taking it down the left side for a touchdown. We’ve seen a similar scene before, have we not? Just with different actors.
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The driver of the media shuttle from Phoenix to Glendale was named James, but he prefers to be called Cookie. He’s 70 years old, knows Curtis Rowe and Sidney Wicks, and grew up with Rick Monday, the first player ever chosen the MLB amateur draft. Figured since I now know all of that, you should too.
And with that — before that, actually — we are officially out of things to say. So here’s to this, the sixth Super Bowl appearance of this extraordinary era. Here’s to no more petty scandals that are, at worst, about petty misdemeanors. Here’s to gameday, and a potential classic that awaits.
Here’s to confetti rain — and another Patriots reign.