Friday, October 31, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;38.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/nskc.png;2014-10-31 00:00:55
Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tom King: Road to Super Bowl XLVII begins at Gillette Stadium

Tom King

It starts on an otherwise blah but mild mid-January Sunday, this latest New England Patriots march to perhaps another Super Bowl appearance.

The Houston Texans will come to town with the hopes of avenging their Monday Night Massacre of a month ago. Lots of luck, Texans. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

It starts on an otherwise blah but mild mid-January Sunday, this latest New England Patriots march to perhaps another Super Bowl appearance.

The Houston Texans will come to town with the hopes of avenging their Monday Night Massacre of a month ago. Lots of luck, Texans.

The Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Patriots – the Jets shocker two years ago aside, along with a loss at Denver in 2006 – don’t usually lose in this Divisional Playoff Round, 6-2 overall. Last year, they blew out the Denver Broncos on a Saturday night. A game that was over in the first few minutes.

It was the same with their regular-season, 42-14 win over Houston. But, as everyone has heard all week to the point of annoyance, they ripped the Jets a month before being eliminated two years ago.

But this is the first step. It’s a long road from the first day of training camp at the end of July until now, and no one wants to take the next exit and call it a season. They want to keep driving.

They haven’t won a Super Bowl since they downed the Philadelphia Eagles in Jacksonville, Fla., in February of 2005.

That’s eight years ago. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

But they’ve always been in the mix. The lowlights being a Wild Card Round loss to the Ravens, the Jets loss, and two Super Bowl losses to the Giants in 2008 and of course, last year.

That makes for one hungry football team.

“I think the sole reason that you play this game is to be the best and you want to be the best team,” Patriots Pro Bowl special teams leader Matt Slater said. “This is the ultimate team sport. To be able to come as close as we did last year and have past failures in my previous seasons here, it just drives you and motivates you more. I think that we’re a team that’s very hungry. We don’t feel like we’ve accomplished anything, we don’t feel like we’ve arrived at all because it’s all for naught unless you do something in the postseason.

“We’re very driven, very motivated, very focused – myself personally and my teammates. We feel like we have a lot left to accomplish and hopefully we’re able to do that.”

Patriots defensive end/linebacker Rob Ninkovich played in his first Super Bowl last year and is itching to get back.

“I wasn’t here with (the Patriots) for all those Super Bowls,” Ninkovich said the other day. “I was blessed to be here last year, came up a little bit short and want to get back there.

“Everyone in the league is hungry for a Super Bowl. I want to get back there just like everybody else that’s in the playoffs. That’s the number one goal in your head coming into training camp, ‘Let’s get to the Super Bowl.’ So everybody’s hungry and you know, this is what we play the game for.”

Contrary to what many may think, there aren’t many Patriots who have tasted Super Bowl glory as a member of the New England roster. Three, to be exact: Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork and Deion Branch. It’s been a long time since they’ve enjoyed the fruits of winning that final game.

“Winning is hard,” said Wilfork, who was, believe it or not, a rookie when the Patriots last won a Super Bowl. “Winning one early in my career, you kind of get the sense that it happens like this all the time, but it doesn’t. It’s very, very hard to win at this level – at any level. We all play this game for one goal: to be champions, plain and simple. You can’t take a situation and overlook it. And the situation for us is the Houston Texans. We can’t overlook this team. We have to go in and play good football. If we play well, we’ll be OK; but if we don’t, we’ll be in trouble.”

What is going to be a key is that the few who have known Super Bowl success with the Patriots impart their wisdom on the younger players, or even the veterans who have not experienced playoff success. Remember, this is a different group, even different from a year ago.

“You have to understand what’s at stake,” Wilfork said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, for this team to understand where we’re at and what it’s going to take to win. That’s when you talk about how many times you’ve been in the postseason and stuff like that. … We have guys that have been here before and guys that haven’t been here before. So our job is to make these guys understand what it takes to win, especially in a situation like this.”

What does it take? Drive, talent, emotion and a little bit of luck. They call it The Road To The Super Bowl, and the Patriots say they’re ready to start their engines.

Tom King can be reached at 594-6468 or tking@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow King on Twitter (@Telegraph_TomK).