The Washington Times-Herald

January 29, 2012

Patriots arrive in Indianapolis

By George Bremer
CNHI News Service

INDIANAPOLIS — 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

local fans.

"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

Reggie Wayne.

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.

A New England victory also would give Belichick four championships, tying

him with one his idols -- Pittsburgh's Chuck Noll -- for the most ever by

a head coach.

Both men, however, moved quickly to dispel talk of personal records.

"We'll try to make sure we focus on what we're really here for, and that's

our performance on Sunday night and our preparation for that performance,"

Belichick said. "We talked about that. This team has been great all year

in terms of their focus and preparation. We've been in big games, none as

big as this one, but plenty of big games during the course of the year. So

hopefully that will serve us well in our preparation this week."

It's been four years since the Patriots last appeared in the NFL's title

game -- a relative eternity in the Brady-Belichick era. And New England

last won the Super Bowl seven years ago in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Patriots' most recent appearance ended with a loss against the New

York Giants in Glendale, Ariz., in 2008.

The Giants again will be the opponent next week, but Belichick said too

many faces have changed on both sides for this game to hold any element of


"I've been asked about that game for several days now," Belichick said,

"but really all the games in the past don't really mean too much at this


The Patriots will train at the Colts' practice facility on West 56th

Street. The two proud franchises once comprised the best rivalry in the NFL.

But Indianapolis is coming off a 2-14 season and starting over with a new

general manager, a new head coach and, perhaps, a new quarterback.

New England's players are well aware many Colts fans would like nothing

better than to see the Patriots fall short on football's grandest stage again.

But Brady said nothing is going to keep him from enjoying this week.

"It's great to be here," he said. "Regardless of where you play, the Super

Bowl is a great experience for all of us. I've been very fortunate in my

career. It'll be my fifth time. You try to communicate to the younger

players how special it is to be here because you really do never know when

you're going to come back again."