St. Augustine, Fla.-- The Blitz is on the road to the Super Bowl, coming to you from the team hotel in St. Augustine, Florida, the sight of last evening's swanked-up welcome party for Patriots employees.
The big story around here is the inspiring courage being exhibited by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. On Wednesday, Brady lost his 94-year-old grandmother, with whom he was very close. Though Brady has carried on with his duties in inspiring fashion, there is no question he will take the field Sunday with a heavy heart. Nick Cafardoof The Boston Globe, Michael Felger and Karen Guregianof The Boston Herald, and Michael Parenteof The Woonsocket Call discuss Brady's difficult week.
Tom Curran of The Providence Journal lauds Brady's toughness and heart, two qualities that teammates say make him the respected leader of the team.
Curran collaborates with Shalize Manza Young to examine Brady's contract status, a topic discussed by team owner Robert Kraft yesterday on Fox25 Boston.
Curran also looks at the relationship between Brady and his center, Dan Koppen. As Curran reports, the two have grown close off the field, while going 33-3 on the field as a starting pair.
Brady is not the only high-profile quarterback who will take part in Sunday's tilt. Eagles quarterback, Donovan F. McNabb, put the Philly offense on his back in the playoffs after a staggeringly good regular season in which he became the first QB ever to throw more than 30 touchdowns with less than ten interceptions in a season. In the Journal, Stephen Krasner highlights McNabb's confidence heading into his first Super Bowl, while Bill Reynolds looks back at McNabb's Syracuse days.
Also on the McNabb beat, Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com muses how Donovan's career will be viewed should he take down the favored Patriots this weekend.
While McNabb excelled in his absence during the first two playoff games, a large part of McNabb's stellar season can be attributed to the incredible play of charismatic wideout Terrell Owens. Kevin Paul Dupont of the Globe reviews Owens' seeming need for the spotlight.
The spotlight certainly has been on the flamboyant T.O during the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Owens has been practicing, and looked awfully good during some televised footage of cutting drills. Stephen Harrisof the Herald reports the receiver is confident his badly damaged leg will hold up against hits from the Pats secondary, while John Altavillaof The Hartford Courant tries to guess how much, or how little, of an impact the injured Owens will be able to make.
On SportsIllustrated.com, often-emulated writer Peter King contends T.O will be contained, regardless of his health. King spoke with former Patriot Bryan Cox, who believes d-backs coach Eric Mangini will have a strategy in place to neutralize Owens, who can be frighteningly effective when healthy.
As heralded an offseason acquisition as Owens going to Philly represented, the Patriots made an equally big splash by landing embattled running back Corey Dillon. Dillon came to the Patriots with a reputation of being a malcontent, and many thought he would not fit in well with the Patriots team-first mentality. All Dillon did this season was keep his mouth shut and run, run, run. Dillon set a career high in carries, yards, and touchdowns, en route to setting a new Patriots franchise rushing record. John Powersof the Globe, Steve Conroyof the Herald, and John Donovanof SI.com chronicle the class with which Dillon has conducted himself since arriving in New England.
It has also just been announced that Dillon will go to Hawaii next week to take place in the Pro Bowl. Dillon will replace Edgerrin James, who will stay home with a back injury.
Dan Shaughnessey of the Globe highlights strong similarities between the Eagles fans, and fans of the hometown Boston Red Sox. As Shaughnessey points out, the Eagles have long-suffered a solid team that has never quite been able to win a title.
Michael Felger of the Herald features Patriots quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels. McDaniels has flown up the Patriots coaching ladder, and has spent this season working closely with Brady who, at 27, is but one year his junior.
Larry Weisman of USA Today spotlights the dueling owners, Robert Kraft and Jeffrey Lurie, who Weisman asserts are among the finest in sports. Both have done in recent years what many believed to be impossible in this age of free-agent football: turn their teams into perennial winners with staying power.
Also in USA Today, Jarrett Bell looks at the tactical showdown looming between two of the league's best coached, Bill Belichick and Andy Reid.
Ventura also zooms in on Dorsey Levens and Kevin Faulk, backup runners for the Eagles and Pats respectively. Star performances in Super Bowls can come from unexpected places, and both Levens and Faulk have shown their merit in the past.
Cafardo has a feature on the linebacking corps, a versatile and productive group that serves as the backbone for the Patriots inspired defense.
Ron Borges of the Globe believes Sunday's showdown will be decided by turnovers and defense. Borges breaks down each unit of the two teams, identifying where the game-breaking plays may come from.
Ty Law was spotted a media row in Jacksonville yesterday, tooling around on a protective scooter. Michael Felger reports Law told anyone who would listen that he would like to finish his career a Patriot.
In The Hartford Courant, Alan Greenberg dissects the way Bill Belichick has revamped the Patriots since his arrival as head coach. Belichick's success has come by erasing the team's bevy of overpaid individuals, and rewriting the roster with a deep and cost-efficient group of players.
Greenberg also reports on the announcement Pro-Bowl defensive lineman Richard Seymour will play in Sunday's game.
Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News provides a glimpse into a day's work for Christian Fauria and David Patten during their pre-game week in Jacksonville.
Jim Fennel of The Union Leader highlights the impressive task of Charlie Weis, acting, for three more days, as both the Patriots offensive coordinator and head coach of Notre Dame.
On ESPN.com, Pasquarelli compares versatile defensive stars Willie McGinest of the Patriots and Jevon Kearse of the Eagles.
With Bridget out of the way, ESPN.com presents Dhani Jones' Diary, a forum for the dapper Philly linebacker to share his Super Bowl experience with fans.
Finally, The Blitz would like to direct you to DaveDudek.com, where Patriots.com webmaster Dave Dudek presents the Super Bowl experience from his behind-the-scenes view. Be sure to cruise the site for further insight to his bizarre daily life and pursuit of all things free.
Stay tuned to The Blitz as we soak up the Florida sun and experience all that goes along with a first trip to the Super Bowl.