Patriots notebook: Players finally talking about 16-0
All games are not created equal. That goes against the Patriots' official mantra, but with 15 wins in the bank and history at hand, it's apparently time to come clean.
Asked if he expected the blood to be pumping a little harder before kickoff on Saturday night when the Patriots visit the New York Giants, linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, yes, it would be.
The Pats never would have admitted that about the Week 6 trip to Dallas, even though it was billed as a potential Super Bowl preview. They never would have admitted that about the Week 9 tilt in Indy, even though it was hyped as the "Game of the Century."
But with a first-round playoff bye on the horizon and the rest of the schedule a fill-in-the-blank, it's been OK this week - finally - to talk about the 16-0 elephant in the room.
"As focused as we've been (on the next game) in terms of answering all these (perfect-season) questions in here (the locker room), it is in the back of our minds what we can achieve," Bruschi said. "To be undefeated in (a 16-game) regular season is something that has never been done before.
"When you're faced with that, it's a challenge and you want to face that challenge and achieve it. I think that will all be in the back of our minds, (especially) with all the attention around this game, being on three different networks."
The Patriots' quest for perfection took a unique turn Wednesday night as the NFL announced it would allow the Pats-Giants game to be simulcast nationally on both CBS and NBC, along with the NFL Network. With Channel 5 already showing the game - the station owns local simulcast rights when the Pats are on cable - that means the Patriots will be on three of the four major networks Saturday night.
"It will be like the State of the Union address - you can flip to every channel and see it," coach Bill Belichick quipped during his opening remarks at yesterday's news conference. Asked what that meant to him, Belichick deadpanned, "I'm not planning on watching it."
"I don't really think much of it, to be honest with you," agreed safety Rodney Harrison. "We've been on nationally televised games for a while now. It's really no big deal for us in this locker room. It's just something for the media to talk about. We're focused on what we have to do and how well we go out there and play, not about all the TV and everything that's going on behind that."
"When the ball is snapped and we're playing out there, everything else just kind of disappears," left tackle Matt Light said. "... I don't think how many people are watching will have much of an effect on that."
Linebacker Larry Izzo is one of nine finalists in the NFL's "Super Ad: Who Wants it More?" contest. The competition features NFL players pitching a story about their NFL journey as a possible Super Bowl commercial. Izzo's story recounts the day during training camp of his rookie year when Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson informed him that he was the second player to make the team after Dan Marino.
Izzo's pitch is representing the AFC East in the finals of the competition.
The pitches are posted on www.nfl.com/superad and fans can vote for their favorite until Jan. 6. The winning pitch will be determined by fan vote and a panel of judges consisting of marketing, advertising and media professionals. It will inspire an NFL commercial that will run during Super Bowl XLII on Sunday, Feb. 3. The player who submits the winning pitch will be featured in the spot.
Fans who vote may also enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz.
Belichick took this week's Sports Illustrated "Perfect Season's Greetings" cover - a shot of him digitally altered into a Santa suit - in stride.
"Well, you know, being associated with Santa Claus - there's a lot worse associations to have," he said, joking. "I'll take it. When you're a kid, sometimes you dream about being on the cover of 'Sports Illustrated.' That's not actually the one I pictured, but it's pretty funny. Whatever sells."
Belichick on Browns
In a mild surprise, Belichick, a student of NFL history, said he was not familiar with the 1948 Cleveland Browns, who also authored a perfect (15-0) season - in the All-America Football Conference.
The Browns won the crown all four years the AAFC existed (1946-49), then moved over to the NFL and played in six straight NFL championship games (1950-55), winning three of them. Those '48 Browns were coached by Paul Brown, one of Belichick's coaching heroes, and featured such legendary players as QB Otto Graham, FB Marion Motley and LT/K Lou Groza.
Veteran linebacker Chad Brown is out of work again. The Patriots cut him again, for the third time this season.
Brown was waived on Sept. 1, re-signed Sept. 12, waived again Oct. 10 and brought back Nov. 27. He only appeared in two games.
With the Giants' fearsome pass rush (a league-high 52 sacks) on deck, the Patriots practiced yesterday without RT Nick Kaczur, who sat out with a foot injury. Kaczur has started every game since Week 9 of last year – 27 straight games, including playoffs. If he's not able to go Saturday, the Patriots likely would turn to either Ryan O'Callaghan or Wesley Britt ... TE Kyle Brady (foot) and FB Kyle Eckel (stomach) also missed practice, while six other players saw limited action - DB Willie Andrews (elbow), QB Tom Brady (right shoulder), Harrison (thigh), RG Stephen Neal (shoulder), TE Benjamin Watson (ankle) and G Billy Yates (foot) ... Three Giants missed practice - RB Ahmad Bradshaw (calf), CB Kevin Dockery (hip flexor) and WR Sinorice Moss (back). WR Plaxico Burress (ankle) practiced for a second straight day, although he was limited.
The Patriot Ledger