INDIANAPOLIS -- The first surprise of Super Bowl week came early Sunday
Bill Belichick smiled.
Not only that, the famously gruff New England Patriots head coach laughed
and joked with the assembled media about the reaction he expects from
"I've never had too much hospitality here until I went for it on
fourth-and-2," Belichick said to a roomful of laughter. "That created a
lot more friendly environment."
Belichick was referencing his 2009 regular season decision not to punt
from deep in his own territory while protecting a small late
fourth-quarter lead against the Indianapolis Colts.
The short pass play the Patriots called failed to gain two yards, and
Peyton Manning quickly answered with a game-winning touchdown pass to
That comeback victory was part of a 14-0 start for Indianapolis that
helped propel the Colts to the AFC championship and a spot in Super Bowl XLIV.
Two years later, Tom Brady and his New England teammates arrived back in
Indianapolis with an AFC crown of their own.
Brady said it actually feels good to be in this city and not be preparing
to play against the Colts.
"We drove by Lucas Oil Stadium on the way in, and you see (defensive end)
Dwight Freeney's picture up there," he said. "To come to Indy and not play
him is definitely a relief. He's terrorized me for a long time, and I'll
be terrorized by some other players in some other uniforms this week."
Clearly, this is a relaxed New England team.
And why not? Next Sunday's Super Bowl will be the fifth for Brady and
Belichick as a quarterback-coaching tandem.
A Patriots win would give Brady four NFL titles, tying him with childhood
idol Joe Montana of San Francisco and Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw for the
most ever by a quarterback.