Archives for posts with tag: Bill Belichick

And there were two.

The Los Angeles Rams.

The New England Patriots.

The last two in the 2018 National Football League’s version of “Survivor.” While the other 30 teams are at home after having their torches put out, they are the last two standing. They’ve out-witted the other 30 teams, they’ve outlasted the other 30. Sunday will be a chance to see who can out-survive the other.

Both the Rams and Patriots started their seasons like everyone else, with OTAs, the draft, mini-camp, preseason and a 17-week schedule where they both played 16 games. At the end of the day in Atlanta, one team will be holding the Lombardi Trophy again, sort of like Raftiki holding baby Simba in “The Lion King.” The other team? They will be picked apart like a Thanksgiving Turkey, second-guessed by everyone that can draw a breath.

This Sunday is not just any Sunday. This is Super Bowl Sunday. This is the Sunday that some of these players have been dreaming about since they were kids, playing pretend football in the backyard and hoping that their time will come. Their time is here. It’s the final game on the 2018 NFL schedule and when the clock strikes :00, the confetti flies around and the on-field interviews are taking place, it will come to an end. No more regular season football until September 5th. The winner? They get to take home the Lombardi Trophy and each player will take home $118,000, which comes out to $29,500 a quarter and they get to pick last in the upcoming draft. As for the losing team? No trophy, they get to pick 31st and each player will get $59,000 (or $14,750 per quarter).

What else is at stake, you ask?

With a New England victory…
•The Patriots will have captured their sixth Super Bowl championship, tied with Pittsburgh (six) for most in NFL history.
•New England will have won its 37th postseason game, surpassing Pittsburgh (36) for the most all-time.
•Head coach Bill Belichick joins George Halas and Curly Lambeau as the only coaches ever to win six NFL championships.
•Quarterback Tom Brady has now won six Super Bowls, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Haley (five) for the most of any player. His Rams counterpart Jared Goff was 7 years old when Brady won his first Lombardi.

With a Los Angeles win…
•The Rams will celebrate the second Super Bowl victory in the history of their franchise (SB XXXIV) and their first in Los Angeles.
•At age 33, head coach Sean McVay becomes the youngest coach ever to win the Super Bowl. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin held the previous mark at age 36.
•Quarterback Jared Goff becomes the first quarterback selected number 1 overall to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory within his first three seasons.

Belichick and Brady will be making their ninth Super Bowl appearance together, the most NFL title games for any head coach and starting quarterback duo in league history. Belichick and Brady have won five Super Bowls together, the most by a head coach and starting quarterback combination.

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, who turns 33 years and 10 days old on Super Bowl Sunday, is the youngest head coach to lead his team to the Super Bowl. In each of the past two seasons under McVay, the Rams have ranked first or second in points per game. His counterpart on the other side of the field? Bill Belichick is 66 and turns 67 in April.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, is the first quarterback selected number 1 overall to reach the Super Bowl within his first three seasons. Four quarterbacks (Pro Football Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and John Elway, Drew Bledsoe and Eli Manning) each reached the Super Bowl in their fourth season.

Brady vs. Goff. Two QBs with a huge age difference led their teams to this point in time. Both clubs won their divisions, both were two seeds in their respective conferences and both won their last games on the road in overtime and both teams beat the top seeds. The bigger picture? Brady won his first Super Bowl the last time the two met in the post season. When Sunday’s game kicks off, Brady will be 42 years old, while Goff is 25 (Goff was seven years old when the Brady-Bilichick duo won their first Lombardi).

The Rams fought their way back against New Orleans in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome and came away with a 26-23 overtime win over Drew Brees and the Saints. Los Angeles trailed 13-10 at the half after the Saints rushed out to a 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter as the Saints used a pair of Wil Lutz field goals and a Brees TD pass to TE Garrett Griffin to open the scoring in the contest. Los Angeles shut out the Saints in the second quarter, thanks to a 6-yard TD run by Todd Gurley III and a Greg Zuerlein field goal to tally their first points of the game. New Orleans would push the lead back to 10 with 8:34 left in the third when backup QB Taysom Hill and Brees connected on a 2-yard toss before the Rams would even things up when TE Tyler Higbee and Goff connected with 3:06 left in the third and Zuerlin booted a 24-yard field goal with 5:03 left in the contest.

New Orleans was not going quietly and got the ball back with 5:03 left in regulation and started the drive they thought would give them the win and there was some controversy in that drive when Saints WR Michael Thomas and Rams CB Michael Roby-Coleman collided on a pass attempt that many Saints fans and players thought was pass interference but was not called and the pass was ruled incomplete, much to the anger of Saints fans and head coach Sean Payton. (Roby-Coleman was eventually fined by the league for the helmet to helmet hit). The Saints had to settle for a 31-yard field goal from Lutz with 1:41 left before the Rams stormed back with 15 seconds left in regulation to re-tie the contest and send the contest into the extra period after Brees knelt the ball down. New Orleans would win the toss in the overtime and got the ball first in the overtime and kept the ball for only four plays, getting as close as their own 36-yard line when Brees was picked off by S John Johnson II inside Saints territory. The Rams wasted very little time or distance, using a 5-play, 15-yard drive that took 2:12 for them to set up a 57-yard field goal try. After the Saints burned a timeout to ice the kicker, Zeurlein connected on that 57-yard try to send the Rams into the Super Bowl.

The Rams outrushed New Orleans 77-48 and Goff threw for 297 yards and a TD with an interception and a sack, while Rams WR Brandon Cooks burned his former team for 107 yards on seven catches. Brees threw for 249 yards with the two TD tosses, while being sacked twice and throwing the interception that ended New Orleans’ hopes of coming to Atlanta. Los Angeles went 6 of 16 on third down (they were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 32:36 (including the overtime), while the Saints went 6 for 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 30:41.

New England took a 14-0 lead with them to the intermission against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead in the AFC Championship game, only to see the Chiefs rally in the final 15 minutes of play and Brady and the Patriots would need overtime to take the 37-31 win on the road. Rookie RB Sony Michel and WR Phillip Dorsett would open the scoring for New England; Michel scoring on a 1-yard run early in the first quarter and Dorsett catching a 29-yard pass from Brady to take the 14-point lead at the break. Kansas City would respond in the third quarter as Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce connected on a 12-yard TD toss in the third to end New England’s bid for a shutout before Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski would push the lead back to 10 with a 47-yard field goal late in the quarter.

The Chiefs would then go to work in the final quarter of regulation, using a pair of Damien Williams TD runs to eventually take a 21-17 lead with 7:45 left in the contest. That lead would not last long as Michel scored on a 10-yard romp with 3:32 left. Kansas City then responded and took the lead back with 2:03 left when Williams scored from two yards out. The Chiefs’ lead did not last very long as New England’s Rex Burkhead gave his team a 31-28 lead back with 39 seconds left. Kansas City roared back again with 8 seconds left in regulation as Harrison Butker connected on a 39 yard field goal to tie things up at 31-31.

The Butker field goal would be the last time the Chiefs would see the ball as New England would win the coin toss in overtime and played ball control in the extra period, using a 13-play, 75-yard drive that used 4:52 of clock and sent Chiefs fans home in a less than good mood when Burkhead gave his team the win, scoring from two yards out to take the win. Michel rushed for 113 yards with the two TDs as the Patriots outrushed Kansas City 176-41. Brady threw for 348 yards with the TD toss and one interception (he was not sacked), while Mahomes threw for 295 yards with three TDs and four sacks but no interceptions. Kansas City, who saw their hopes dashed when DE Dee Ford lined up in the neutral zone, erasing a potential Brady interception in the final quarter, went 4 for 9 on third down and kept the ball for 20:53, while New England ruled the clock and kept the ball for 43:59 (including the 4:52 in overtime), while going 13 of 19 on third down, 1 for 2 on fourth down.

They met in Foxoboro in the 2016 season in week 13 and the Patriots were 26-10 winners at Gillette Stadium. New England scored their first 17 points of the contest uncontested before the Rams rallied in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring New England 10-9. The Rams were held to 36 rushing yards, while New England tallied 133, with LeGarrett Blount leading the way with 88 yards and a rushing TD, while Brady threw for 269 yards without a sack or interception (Goff threw for 161 yards with a pair of interceptions and four sacks; both Goff and Brady each had a TD pass). The Rams were a dismal 1 of 12 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and they would keep the ball for 22:03, while New England ruled the clock and kept the ball for 37:57, while going 4 of 16 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

In the week 13 contest in Foxboro, the Pats covered the 13 1/2-point spread, winning by 16 but both clubs missed the 44 1/2 over/under as they combined for 36 points.

The Rams and Patriots met once in post-season play and that was in Super Bowl XXXVI, which New England won in the final seconds 20-17 in New Orleans, when the Rams were in St. Louis. That contest was the start of the Brady-Bill Belichick era as the Rams, who were in St. Louis, won the Lombardi Trophy the year before in Atlanta. New England erased a 3-0 first quarter deficit and took a 14-3 lead with them to the break in the Big Easy. The Pats then added an Adam Vinatieri field goal in the third quarter to lead by 14 before the Rams scored a pair of TDs in the fourth, one with Kurt Warner using his legs to score from two yards out, then Warner used his arm, connecting with WR Ricky Proehl with 90 seconds left in regulation. New England would use all of the 90 seconds that was left and made their way down the field, using a 9-play, 53-yard drive that ended with Vinatieri connecting on a 48-yard field goal as time expired. In picking up his first Super Bowl win, Brady threw for 145 yards and a TD with a sack but no interceptions, while Warner threw for 365 yards and the game-tying TD with three sacks and a pair of interceptions. New England outrushed the Rams 133-90 and went 2 for 11 on third down and kept the ball for 26:30 (including the final 90 seconds of the contest), while the Rams were 5 for 13 on third down and kept the ball for 33:30.

Yes, this is the last game of the year. When next Sunday rolls around, most of America will be forced to wait for baseball and watch golf, basketball or those gosh-awful Lifetime movies on Sunday. It’s also the last Sunday of “THE DRILL” until September. With that…. (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 58 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”)

New England, according to the boys and girls in Vegas, are favored by 2 1/2 with a 56 1/2 over/under. Both numbers make a lot of sense. For the winners, they get to go to Disney World and the Lombardi Trophy. As for the loser? Let’s just say that sports talk shows will be second-guessing them over and over and over until the draft. For the championship week, we went 1-1 and for the season, we are now 150-112. The end is nigh for the 2018 season. No more NFL until pre-season. It’s time to pick a winner, Jimmy, to paraphrase Robert Redford from “The Natural.” Jimmy’s from LA and he’s going with the Rams. We are too. Rams win and cover the 2 1/2.

Broadcast Information – 6:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely, Gene Steratore; WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Mike Holmgren, Tony Boselli, Ed Werder; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 82 (New England), 83 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 226 (New England), 225 (Los Angeles Rams)

Referee: John Parry

Injury Report

New England – New England reports no injuries

Los Angeles Rams – Los Angeles Rams report no injuries

Weather: Game indoors; if roof is open, partly cloudy and 55 degrees.

Broadcast Information and Injury Report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel. (Note: Weather information is based on kickoff local time)

The last game of the 2014 National Football League season and it couldn’t be bigger.

Super Bowl XLIX.

For all the marbles.

A pair of top seeds in the NFL playoffs meet in Glendale in a “winner-take-all” situation. For the 49th time, someone will go home with a lot of hardware (the Lombardi Trophy), while the loser will go home empty handed.

The defending Super Bowl champs Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.

Two teams with four Super Bowls between them (New England – 3, Seattle – 1).

Salmon and Starbucks vs. lobster and Dunkin Donuts.

Pete Carroll vs. Bill Belichick. Two coaches with a lot in common. They have four Super Bowls between them (Belichick with 3, Carroll with 1) and they both have coached the Patriots. Carroll’s tenure in Foxboro ran from 1997-99, where he was 28-23 before moving to Southern California and Belichick took over. Carroll then went to the Trojans in 2001 and remained in Los Angeles until 2009, when he made the move up I-5 to the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks.

For the second consecutive season, the game will feature the No. 1 seed in each conference.

“There are 32 teams that started and now there are two remaining,” New England quarterback Tom Brady told the Boston Globe. “We’re trying to be the one that finishes off the season the way you want to, the way we wanted to from the start of the year.”

With the two championship games and the Pro Bowl, we were 2-1, which is not a bad thing. For the year, 162-93.

Super Bowl XLIX will pit the NFL’s top two teams in point differential during the regular season – New England (+155) and Seattle (+140).

CLOSE GAMES: The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers 28-22 in overtime in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

It marked the eighth consecutive NFC Championship Game to be decided by seven points or fewer, extending the longest streak in conference championship game history.

The past eight NFC Championship Games:

SEASON – FINAL SCORE
2007 – New York Giants 23, Green Bay 20*
2008 – Arizona 32, Philadelphia 25
2009 – New Orleans 31, Minnesota 28*
2010 – Green Bay 21, Chicago 14
2011 – New York Giants 20, San Francisco 17*
2012 – San Francisco 28, Atlanta 24
2013 – Seattle 23, San Francisco 17
2014 – Seattle 28, Green Bay 22*
*Overtime

SUPER FOLLOW-UPS: The defending Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks defeated Green Bay 28-22 in overtime on Sunday and became the 12th team in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl after winning it the previous season.

Eight Super Bowl winners won the title game the next year and three lost it.

The teams to reach the Super Bowl after winning it the previous season:

SEASON – SUPER BOWL/WINNER, NEXT SEASON
1966 – I/Green Bay, Won Super Bowl
1972 – VII/Miami, Won Super Bowl
1974 – IX/Pittsburgh, Won Super Bowl
1977 – XII/Dallas, Lost Super Bowl
1978 – XIII/Pittsburgh, Won Super Bowl
1982 – XVII/Washington, Lost Super Bowl
1988 – XXIII/San Francisco, Won Super Bowl
1992 – XXVII/Dallas, Won Super Bowl
1996 – XXXI/Green Bay, Lost Super Bowl
1997 – XXXII/Denver, Won Super Bowl
2003 – XXXVIII/New England, Won Super Bowl
2013 – XLVIII/Seattle, ???

SUPER CHAMPIONSHIP: New England
defeated Indianapolis 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl XLIX. This is the Patriots eighth Super Bowl appearance, tying Dallas and Pittsburgh for the most in NFL history.

The teams with the most Super Bowl appearances:

TEAM – SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES
New England – 8
Dallas – 8
Pittsburgh – 8
Denver – 7
San Francisco – 6

SUPER COMBINATION: New England head coach Bill Belichickand quarterback Tom Brady defeated Indianapolis 45-7 in the AFC Championship in Foxboro to advance to Super Bowl XLIX. Belichick and Brady extended their NFL record to six for the most Super Bowl appearances by any head coach-quarterback combination in NFL history.

The head coach-quarterback combinations with the most Super Bowl appearances in NFL history:

QUARTERBACK and HEAD COACH, TEAM – SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, New England – 6*
Roger Staubach and Tom Landry, Dallas – 4
Jim Kelly and Marv Levy, Buffalo – 4
Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh – 4
*Active

Belichick (six) joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Shula (six) as the only head coaches to lead their team(s) to six Super Bowls.

The head coaches to reach the most Super Bowls:
HEAD COACH – SUPER BOWL BERTHS
Bill Belichick – 6
Don Shula – 6
Tom Landry – 5
Five tied with 4

Brady (six) also surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway (five) for the most conference championship wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Brady will play in his sixth Super Bowl, the most ever by a starting quarterback.

The starting quarterbacks with the most Super Bowl appearances all-time:

PLAYER – SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES, SUPER BOWL RECORD
Tom Brady – 6, 3-2*
John Elway – 5, 2-3^
Terry Bradshaw – 4, 4-0^
Joe Montana – 4, 4-0^
Roger Staubach – 4, 2-2^
Jim Kelly – 4, 0-4^
*Will play in Super Bowl XLIX
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

AMAZING ADAM: Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri played his 30th career postseason game in his 19-year career on Sunday against New England. Vinatieri (30) surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (29) for the most postseason games played in NFL history.

New England quarterback Tom Brady (28) surpassed D.D. Lewis (27) for the third-most postseason games played all-time.

The players with the most postseason games played in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (POSTSEASON GAMES PLAYED)
Adam Vinatieri – Indianapolis and New England (30)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle (29)
Tom Brady – New England (28)
D.D. Lewis – Dallas (27)

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play a great team in the Patriots with a great coach and a great quarterback,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson told the Seattle Post Intelligencer and KING-TV. “We have a lot of respect for them and what they do. We’re just grateful to have the opportunity.”

Both teams had their fans glued to the TV sets two weeks ago as the AFC and NFC Championship Games averaged 46.1 million viewers, topping the 45 million mark for the second consecutive year. The NFC Championship Game between Seattle and Green Bay averaged 49.8 million viewers – the most-watched program since Super Bowl XLVIII – and the AFC Championship Game between New England and Indianapolis averaged 42.1 million viewers.

“It’s the character of the men that we have on our football team,” says Wilson. “The relentless drive to be successful for each other and just be grateful for the opportunity that we have, the gratefulness that we have in our room and for each other is unbelievable. We really care about each other. We work for each other. We want to be the best for a reason.”

Seattle has won five consecutive playoff games and head coach Pete Carroll is 7-2 (.778) in the postseason with the Seahawks. Carroll, who guided the Patriots to two playoff berths (1997-98) in his three seasons in New England (1997-99), has led Seattle to the postseason in four of the past five years (2010, 2012-14).

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment for the club to be able to get a chance to go back to the Super Bowl,” Carroll told KIRO-TV. “It’s extraordinarily fun for us and I hope for everybody else, too. We’re going to do everything we can to go get it done.”

Wilson will be the youngest quarterback (26 years, 64 days) to start two Super Bowls and also the first QB to start two Super Bowls in his first three NFL seasons to begin a career. His 36 regular-season wins, six playoff victories and 42 overall wins are all the most by a starting quarterback in his first three NFL seasons to start a career.

“Russell and Tom Brady are both great winners,” says Carroll about the two starting quarterbacks in Super Bowl XLIX. “Tom has had a long time to prove that. Russell is at the early stages of proving that to the world. But he’s got a chance to be similar.”

Seattle struggled in the first half against Green Bay at Century Link Field, trailing 16-0 at half before outscoring the Packers in the second half and overtime 28-6 to win 28-22. The defending Super Bowl champions got as far as Green Bay’s 20 yard line before being stalled by a turnover toward the end of the first half stopped the drive. Seattle turned the ball over four times in the first half (three interceptions, two by rookie CB Clinton HaHa Dix) and had five defensive penalties. Marshawn Lynch ran for 157 of Seattle’s 194 with a TD in the contest, while the Packers ran for 135. Although Wilson did throw the four interceptions, he did manage to throw the winning pass to WR Jermaine Kearse with 11:41 left in the overtime. Green Bay trailed 22-19 in regulation after Lynch scored and Wilson and Luke Wilson connected on a two-point conversion and tied things up on a 48-yard field goal by Mason Crosby with 14 seconds left. Seattle’s first score of the contest came by way of trickery when rookie T Gary Gillam caught a pass from P Jon Ryan in the third quarter. Ryan became the first punter in NFL playoff history to throw a TD pass in a post-season contest. Despite Wilson’s struggles with turnovers, he did manage to outpass Aaron Rodgers 209-176 (Rodgers threw a pair of interceptions in the contest). Seattle on third and fourth down tries were 8-16 and 1-1 and held the ball for 31:04 (including the overtime), while the Packers did not have a fourth down try in the game, going 3-14 and kept the ball for 32:15.

New England proved to be a bit too much for Indianapolis at Foxboro two Sundays ago, as the Pats “deflated” the Colts 45-7. New England led 17-7 at half and then proceeded to outscore Indy and Andrew Luck 28-0 in the final 30 minutes of play. Pats RB LeGare Blount ran for 148 of his team’s 177 yards with three TDs, while his defense held the Colts to 83 yards and forced three turnovers in the rain and wind at Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady out-threw Luck 226-126 in passing yardage (Brady had three TD passes, including a connection with his favorite target, TE Rod Gronkowski) and New England never trailed in the contest. The Pats on third and fourth down tries were 12-18 and 2-2 and held the ball for 37:49, while the Colts kept it for 22:11 and went 3-11 on third down tries (Indy did not have a fourth down conversion).

That is tied with Dallas and Pittsburgh for the most Super Bowl appearances in NFL history. Seattle can be the 9th team to win consecutive Super Bowls & 1st since 2004 Patriots won SB XXXIX and the Seahawks were the number one seed for the second  consecutive season & 3rd time (2005, 2013) since current 12-team format started in 1990.

Last year, Carroll became the third oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl and can be oldest head coach in NFL history to win back-to-back Lombardis.

“It’s awesome and an unbelievable feeling to be going back to the Super Bowl,” says Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. “I know this team has worked hard all year and we’ve stuck together as a team.”

Belichick and Brady will make their sixth Super Bowl appearance, the most by any head coach-quarterback tandem in NFL history. Belichick and Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Shula (six) are the only head coaches in NFL history to lead their teams to six Super Bowls. Brady will start his sixth Super Bowl, the most ever by a quarterback, passing Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway (five).

Belichick’s 21 postseason victories are the most by a head coach in NFL history. Brady has won 20 career playoff games, the most ever by a starting quarterback.

“You have to have a good team,” says Belichick. “There are all the components of it. One guy can’t win in this league. All one guy can do is do his job. Tom does his job as well as anybody. I’m so thankful that he’s our quarterback. There’s nobody I would rather have. He does everything well. And with a lot of other people doing their jobs, well, then you have a good team.”

New England averaged 29.3 points per game in the regular season, the fourth-best mark in the NFL. The Patriots will face a Seattle defense that led the league in points allowed (15.9 per game), total defense (267.1 yards per game) and pass defense (185.6 yards per game). The Seahawks have led the NFL in points allowed in each of the past three regular seasons.

“It’s a great challenge,” says Brady about facing the Seahawks. “We’re going to play a great team. That’s why they’re in this game too.”

“To go back to my rookie season, that seems like forever ago,” recalls Wilson. “But back in my rookie season, playing against the Patriots, I truly think that was one of the biggest games for me personally, especially being able to come back against a great team. That was a huge comeback for us. I think that was kind of a momentum starter for us for the past three years. The Patriots are always on, they’re always ready to go, so we’re going to have to play our best football, that’s for sure.”

The Patriots had seven players selected to the Pro Bowl: quarterback Brady (10th), wide receiver Julian Edleman (first), kicker Stephen Gstkowski (third), tight end Gronkowski (third), safety McCourty (second), cornerback Revis (sixth) and special teamer Matthew Slater (fourth).

The defending Super Bowl champs had seven players selected to the Pro Bowl: safety Chancellor (third), running back Lynch (fifth), tackle Russell Okung (second), cornerback Sherman (second), safety Earl Thomas (fourth), linebacker Bobby Wagner (first) and quarterback Wilson (third).

The series is even at 8-8 and the Patriots have outscored Seattle 321-295. Seattle’s last win in the series came in 2012 in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks when they beat the Pats 24-23 back when their home field was known as Qwest Field before the name change. New England’s last win was in 2008, also in the Pacific Northwest, by a final of 24-21.  The Pats are favored by 1 with a 47 1/2 over/under. Since this is the LAST game of the 2014 season, this is the last time that we can tell you about “The Drill” until the 2015 season gets underway in September, so with that… (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?)

After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute pre-K teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 56 and dates a 40-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

It’s the final act of the 2014 NFL season and the curtain will fall when things are over and done with in Glendale. 32 teams started a journey that saw them sweat through mini-camps, then pre-season camps, where they fought heat, bugs, injuries and at times each other. They played a 16-game schedule and no one went undefeated, much to the joy of the 1974 Miami Dolphins. When that 16-game schedule came to an end, there were 20 teams that made it to the post-season party. It’s all down to two teams. Two of the best meet in the desert and when the dust finally settles, one team will be holding the Lombardi, while the other will wonder what happened. This one’s going to be really close and could be the very first Super Bowl to go to overtime. New England makes it close but Seattle gets some more hardware and comes away with another Lombardi, covering the 7.

Broadcast Information
Seattle vs. New England, 6:30 p.m. on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, James Lofton, Mark Malone (Field reporters).

Injury Report

New England
QUESTIONABLE: C Bryan Stork (knee)
PROBABLE: LB Akeem Ayers (knee), QB Tom Brady (ankle), LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), DT Chris Jones (elbow), CB Darrelle Revis (not injury related), DT Sealver Siliga (foot)

Seattle
PROBABLE: T Justin Britt (knee), S Kam Chancellor (knee), RB Marshawn Lynch (back), CB Richard Sherman (elbow), G J.R. Sweezy (ankle), S Earl Thomas (shoulder)

Weather: Game indoors; if roof is open, sunny and 67 degrees.

Broadcast information and injury report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best and USA Today, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel.