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Patriots.com News Blitz - 02/07/06

Michael Ventre of MSNBC.com writes that next year the Patriots will win the Super Bowl because they will be hungry and vengeful. They will want to atone for a bizarre season that included one of their top linebackers suffering a stroke and then returning to play, and their star quarterback playing the second half of the season with a hernia. Quite frankly, much of the Patriots' undoing this year had little to do with specific areas of weakness, like the surprise retirement of linebacker Ted Johnson right before the season, or the knee injury that caused Richard Seymour to miss four games, or the season-ending injuries to Rodney Harrison and Tyrone Poole, or the suddenly aged wheels of Corey Dillon. Rather, it was about a collective mentality. The Patriots tried to will themselves to the title because they're used to doing just that. This time they didn't have enough will to go along with a shortage of healthy bodies.

Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger writes that with their win in Super Bowl XL, the Steelers now can reach back to last season's AFC championship game and put their own spin on it. No longer will that 41-27 Patriots victory be viewed only as a great New England sports moment. Now it becomes an oddly treasured Pittsburgh sports moment, too - Chapter 1 in every account of the Steelers' bounce-back run to Super Bowl XL.

Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger writes that forward-thinking NFL fans are already looking ahead to Super Bowl XLI in Miami. After all, it's practically right around the corner - Feb. 4, 2007. Since Super Bowls are as much about the pregame story lines as they are about the game itself, McHugh offers 10 potential matchups (excluding Pittsburgh and Seattle) that could entice us at this time next year. A Super Bowl matchup between New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys was at the top of McHugh's list.

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes. Reiss also offers his latest mailbag where he answers your questions.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.

Congratulations to the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers

Here's what the local press is writing about the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL:

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that the Steelers played the best when it counted the most, and their route to the title — road victories against the AFC's first, second and third seeds, then a Super Bowl win against the NFC's top seed — was the most challenging in NFL history. Before Sunday night's game, it was hard to respect Pittsburgh. Now, the Steelers are champions, and most every negative thing you felt about them has been rendered moot.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward put up the type of gutsy effort that's made more than one local football fan opine that he'd fit in well with the Patriots, Ward caught five passes for 123 yards and the clinching touchdown to take MVP honors after Pittsburgh's 21-10 victory. Before jetting home, he conducted his final press conference of the season, chose a black Cadillac Escalade as his prize for winning the MVP and marveled at finally forming a link to the team's glorified past.

Ron Borges of the Boston Globe writes that for all his struggles throwing the ball, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did what quarterbacks with Super Bowl rings do. He made significant plays when his team needed them most, one with his arm, two with his legs, and one with a rolling block on Seattle safety Michael Boulware that gave Antwaan Randle El enough room to do what Roethlisberger is handsomely paid to do -- launch a touchdown pass to Hines Ward that broke the Seahawks' backs.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that back-to-back appearances in the Super Bowl are comparatively rare, which makes what the Cowboys, Broncos, and Patriots have done in winning back-to-back remarkable -- not to mention the Buffalo Bills getting to four consecutive Super Bowls, though losing each time. But the Steelers, who have one of the best teams of the past 15 years in the area of retooling, are in good shape.

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