The day the Patriots have hoped for since Halloween will come this Sunday. The defending Super Bowl Champions will have a shot at redemption against the Pittsburgh Steelers team that ended their 21-game winning streak on October 31st. In that game, the Corey Dillon-less Pats gained only five rushing yards on six carries, while the Steelers ran the ball at will. This time around, Dillon will be in the lineup, coming off a 144-yard playoff debut against Indianapolis. Looking ahead and providing a preview of the game are: Nick Cafardoof The Boston Globe, Michael Felgerof The Boston Herald, Jarret Bellof USA Today, Tom Curranof The Providence Journal, Alan Greenbergof The Hartford Courant, and Michael Parenteof The Woonsocket Call.
Bob Ryan of the Globe discusses Bill Belichick's approach to this weekend's game. Ryan asserts Belichick will be able to prepare for the game without the inherent emotion from the previous loss to Pittsburgh that most fans will be carrying.
The Globe runs an associated press article by Alan Robinson suggesting the Steelers are keeping quiet as they prepare for this weekend's championship game. It may be because they ran their mouths a bit before the last meeting, or because they saw the way New England gained motivatio from the Colts' "idiot kicker," but, so far, the Steelers are saying all the right things.
Cafardo points out this weekend's showing by the defense should assuage any fears potential employers may have had about head-coach-to-be Romeo Crennel.
Kevin Mannix of the Herald gives his weekly report card for the Patriots various units. High marks go to the linebackers, d-backs, running backs, and coaches. Mannix gives low marks to Tom Brady and the receivers, as the passing game was not much of a factor in the win.
In his notebook, Felger covers the Ty Law injury mini-controversy, the hope for Richard Seymour to return to the field this week, and some respect for Steelers rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger.
Ian O'Connor of USA Today has a feature on Belichick and his mentor, Bill Parcells. O'Connor discusses the interesting dynamic that has arisen with the appearance of Belichick having outdone Parcells' success.
In the Journal, Curran ranks the top fifteen games from this recent run of Patriots excellence.
Curran also reviews three plays he considers to be indicative of why the Patriots won as they did on Sunday.
Also in the Journal, Bill Reynolds looks back at Peyton Manning's playoff performance, suggesting the league's back-to-back MVP did not live up to the hype.
In his notebook, Parente covers Tedy Bruschi's almost indescribable knack for making the big play, as well as the team's ability to thrive playing basic, hard football.
On ESPN.com, John Clayton gives 5 things to watch in this Sunday's AFC Championship game.
If you enjoy News Blitz, you might want to check out www.bostonsportsmedia.com where Bruce Allen also offers links to what the media is saying about the Patriots as well as the other Boston sports teams. Allen also includes commentary on the media and does a good job holding everyone accountable.