Super Bowl distractions can always lead a team astray

The big show that is called “Opening Night” is done.

Now the rest of Super Bowl week can likely proceed with some normalcy.

The Patriots are going to need just that.

They’re going to need the approach they’ve taken in Super Bowls past, when it’s all hands on deck.

So far, so good. Drama free. Last year it was the question of whether Rob Gronkowski could go. Or if Malcolm Butler, who didn’t travel with the team, could shed whatever illness he had and be ready.

And we know how that turned out.

The Patriots have turned things around. The whatever it takes approach. There

s something in the air. You can feel it. We didn’t hold much water with the wins over the Bills and the Jets to finish the regular season, but all that momentum carried over into a thrashing of the Los Angeles Chargers.

In fact, in these eyes, the two best teams in the AFC going into the playoffs were the Chargers and then the Chiefs. Probably should have had that reversed.

This is a team that reminds you of the 2001 Patriots, not just because they’re playing the Rams, but because they also went 11-5, and did whatever it took to win. Or the team that knocked off Carolina two years later.

“I think everyone here is just committed to winning and really doing whatever it takes to win,” Brady said this past weekend, “whether that’s Mike Vrabel plahying tight end for us or defensive players lead-blocking on the goal line or Troy Brown or Julian playing DB at different times. Everyone just kind of does whatever it takes and that’s a great place to be.”

The one thing the Patriots always seem to be able to do is avoid the distractions of Super Bowl week.

“You’ve got to just stick to it,” Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said. “You’ve got to stay focused and you’ve just got to stick to the grind and keep on working.

Not easy.

“There’s so many distractions all over the place when you get down there,” Gronkowski said late last week. “There’s events left and right, every day, every night, morning to night.

“We’re down there for one reason and it’s to get the win. The only thing you remember from the trip is if you won or if you lost. You’ve just got to stay focused and put it all in so you can go out there and we can do what we’ve got to do.”

Gronkowski, of course, by himself can often be a walking distraction. But he can also be a very serious football player, and we are seeing that side of him.

“It’s not tough (to avoid distractions) at all if your mindset is to go out there and do the best you can possibly do when you step out on the field,” he said. “That’s just doing everything you’ve got to do throughout the whole week, just keeping it simple, not trying to look for other things todo not trying to look for distractions.

“If your mindset is right it’s just going to be another week just in a different city and you’ve got to keep preparing like that.”

Rest assured, that is what the Patriots are going to be doing, now that they’ve got Opening Night out of the way. Only a handful of players speak today at the team hotel, and the remaining everyone-must-attend media sessions Wednesday and Thursday are late in the afternoon after practice.

It’s Super Bowl Week, and the buzz can be deafening.Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,, or@Telegraph _TomK.