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Belichick defends Seymour from dirty play complaint

Patriots coach Bill Belichick rebuffed claims that defensive lineman Richard Seymour played dirty in the AFC championship victory over San Diego.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick rebuffed claims that defensive lineman Richard Seymour played dirty in the AFC championship victory over San Diego.

New England beat the Chargers 21-12 on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl, and after the game San Diego center Nick Hardwick called Seymour "a dirty, cheap, little pompous (expletive)."

"I'm surprised," Belichick said Monday. "That's the last thing I would say about Richard."

Seymour was called for running into the kicker when the Chargers punted on their first possession -- a clear penalty, but hardly a violent one. He also gave San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers an elbow to the back that sent Rivers into an exaggerated flop.

Hardwick also accused Seymour of stomping on feet, slapping heads and punching people in the back.

"He's cheap and dirty, and the head man just let him get away with it the whole time," Hardwick said.

It's the second straight year that the Patriots have eliminated the Chargers from the playoffs, and the second straight year the Chargers have complained about New England's sportsmanship. Last year, running back LaDainian Tomlinson said the Patriots had "no class" for celebrating on the Chargers midfield logo.

Seymour was unavailable for comment because Belichick gave his team three days off to rest and make plans for the trip to Glendale, Ariz., for the Feb. 3 Super Bowl. That's their chance to arrange for family travel, pack their things and handle ticket requests from friends and relatives.

"I'm sure everybody got a lot of calls last night," Belichick said. "We all did."

On Thursday, they'll start planning for the game. The team leaves on Sunday.

The Patriots beat the Giants 38-35 on Dec. 30 to complete a perfect regular season. Since then, the Giants have won three playoff games on the road -- in Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay - as they improved to 10-1 on the road this season.

"We had a great game with them last month. Looks like they've done nothing but get better," Belichick said. "Unfortunately, it counts for a road game for them, 'cause we're the home team."

Having played recently, both coaching staffs have the benefit of having their game tapes organized already.

"It makes it go a lot faster. If it had been Green Bay, we would have spent a lot of time getting the material ready," Belichick said. "It's not an advantage. Both teams will be working with the same information."

One thing that might help the Patriots is their experience in the Super Bowl. New England has won three NFL titles since the 2001 season.

"Our organization's been in this game before," Belichick said. "So we have a little bit of history on what worked well, and other things we don't want to do."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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