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Super Bowl referees: John Parry heads veteran crew

01.24.12 at 10:20 am ET
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Remember “fourth-and-2,” the infamous play that essentially cost the Patriots a game against the Colts in 2009?

If there’s a similar situation in the Super Bowl at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, the Patriots might want to think twice. Not only is the game being played in the same city, the official who ruled that Kevin Faulk did not gain possession of the ball past the first-down marker — a ruling questioned by Bill Belichick but one that appeared to be correct — is working the Super Bowl.

Tom Stabile, in his 17th season making calls in the NFL, is part of the crew that will be headed by 12th-year official John Parry. Stabile was the head linesman on Nov. 15, 2009, and he ruled that Faulk did not demonstrate control until after he was pushed behind the first-down marker. The Colts took possession at the New England 29 with just over two minutes left and scored the game-winning touchdown three plays later for a 35-34 victory.

Parry, who by day works as a financial adviser in his home state of Ohio, was named crew chief after leading the group that oversaw the Saints-49ers NFC divisional playoff game, a classic that ended with both teams scoring in the final two minutes.

Along with Stabile, who will server as the head linesman, Parry’s assistants include umpire Carl Paganelli (13 years of experience),  line judge Gary Arthur (15 years), field judge Gary Cavaletto (9), side judge Laird Hayes (17) and back judge Tony Steratore (12).

Read More: John Parry, Tom Stabile,

NBC’s ‘Sunday Night Football’ crew offers thoughts on Super Bowl XLVI matchup

01.24.12 at 1:04 am ET
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NBC’€™s ‘€œSunday Night Football‘€ crew has weighed in with some thoughts on Super Bowl XLVI.

Bob Costas on Giants-Patriots: ‘€œNo matter how they got there, this would be a bold-faced matchup: Patriots-Giants, a rematch of one of the most memorable Super Bowls ever with the key principals still in place ‘€“ the coaches and the quarterbacks. When you think of how they got here and how good the games were today with the Patriots almost going to overtime and the Giants in fact going to overtime.

‘€œThe Giants trip to the Super Bowl closely mirrors what happened last time. The Patriots are not the juggernaut they were then, but the Giants had to go on the road and beat the Packers and beat San Francisco. It certainly feels like what happened four years ago. And there’€™s an irony that I am sure will be repeated a thousand times between now and two weeks from now that Brady meets Manning in Indianapolis, but its Eli, not Peyton.’€

Al Michaels on the Giants: ‘€œMuch as it was the case four years ago, the Giants were almost given up for dead in early December, and stayed alive with a tremendous comeback on that Sunday night in Dallas, which set them up for this post-season run.’€

Michaels on the quarterbacks and coaches: ‘€œDespite that fact that Tom Brady was very critical of himself after today’€™s game, he is one of the greatest of all time, obviously. And Eli is an elite quarterback as well, there’€™s no doubt about that. So you have two great quarterbacks and two really outstanding coaches. Bill Belichick is clearly one of the best of all time and I think Tom Coughlin will finally get some of the respect that I felt he has deserved for a long, long time.’€

Michaels on the matchup: ‘€œAn extremely attractive matchup. The Patriots offense against the Giants defense that is playing a heck of a lot better than it was playing earlier in the season. The Patriots defense of late has played better, too. So it’€™s a great chess match with two elite quarterbacks and two teams with great traditions and great histories. It should be a terrific matchup.’€

Cris Collinsworth on the Giants’€™ season: ‘€œIt reminds me so much of what happed in 2007, the lowest of expectations going into the playoffs, and were they going to even make the playoffs. It’€™s really a credit to the resiliency of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. Somehow this team just finds a way in the most unlikely of circumstances to come together and to play great football. What Eli has done with his come-from-behind wins this year has been remarkable.’€

Collinsworth on the Patriots’€™ defense: ‘€œThe story for the Patriots, a defense that did not put up good statistics all season long, came together and played their best football in the playoffs. Based on Brady’€™s comments at the end of the game, he wasn’€™t too happy with his game and yet the defense was good enough, with a little help from a missed field goal at the end of the game, to carry them through.’€

Collinsworth on Tom Brady’€™s postgame comments:: ‘€œIt’€™s not often that Tom Brady needs help from anybody to make his way to the Super Bowl, but you know that he is going to be inspired in a way that he hasn’€™t been, maybe ever. Hearing his post-game self-critique, you know that he has a little chip on his shoulder going into the Super Bowl.’€

Collinsworth on the Super Bowl rematch: ‘€œThis is a rematch of a game that probably bothers the New England Patriots the most. They had the chance to stake their claim to be the greatest team of all time and the Giants beat them in major underdog fashion. The conditions are going to be perfect for both teams in this one, and I expect greatness from the game.’€

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Read More: Al Michaels, Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Rodney Harrison

Patriots plan a super treat for some super people in the community

01.23.12 at 9:20 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots have celebrated the efforts of community service workers and volunteers all season.

Now, they’re taking it to a whole new level.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Monday announced the opening of a ‘€œSuper Bowl for Super People’€ online sweepstakes to recognize outstanding individuals in the public service sector as an extension of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation’€™s season-long ‘€œCelebrate Volunteerism’€ campaign.

Ten winners will be randomly selected from a pool of police officers, firefighters, teachers, military personnel and nurses in New England who have been identified as ‘€œSuper People’€ by their superiors.

Two winners from each category will receive the ‘€œSuper Bowl for Super People’€ package, an all-expenses paid, one-day trip to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis for them and a guest, including game tickets, round-trip airfare, transportation to and from the game and tickets to the Patriots’€™ postgame party.

It’s appropriate that the team reached the ultimate game this season to reward the volunteers, since giving back to the community was the heart and soul of the lifetime of work of the late Myra Kraft.

‘€œThroughout a season dedicated to my sweetheart, we recognized outstanding individuals for their many contributions to our community through ‘€˜Celebrate Volunteerism,’€™’€ Kraft said of his late wife. ‘€œIn New England, we’€™re all part of the same community and part of the same family, and we all benefit from the dedication of hard-working public servants. We’€™re glad that through this sweepstakes we can reward those who have chosen a career in public service and through their commitment to giving back have earned the recognition of their superiors. We’€™re excited to have them in our day-of-game travel party as representatives of their professional communities.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Myra Kraft, New England Patriots, New York Giants, nfl

Robert Kraft: ‘I believe in this team, big time’

01.23.12 at 8:22 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Several times on Sunday evening – as he was handing the AFC championship trophy off to different players – Patriots owner Robert Kraft touched his fingers to the left side of his chest, then to his lips and then pointed to the sky.

These 2011 Patriots are the perfect embodiment of the spirit of Myra Kraft, and that is what touches Robert Kraft’s heart the most. He made that much very clear on Monday in giving thanks to his head coach Bill Belichick and the players who have made possible his sixth trip to the Super Bowl as team owner.

“I believe in this team, big time. We have a coach who has gone through the learning curve pretty well,” Kraft said Monday. “It’€™s funny, I was just chatting with Rodney Harrison who was here doing some work with NBC. I was telling him how I had the privilege of having Drew Bledsoe stay at my house the night before the game. He flew in and was one of the honorary captains and then I realized he never played with Drew Bledsoe; Rodney really came in afterwards.

“What that made me realize and I bring it to Coach Belichick and the system we have here that we hopefully have a system and discipline and the best coach in place that will keep people focused. Fortunately, we’€™ve had the experience of going to this game before. We have certain disciplines we follow and we’€™ll follow those now. We hope we have the privilege of bringing our fourth championship back to the New England community.”

Kraft has watched as Belichick turned his roster over nearly completely since their last trip four years ago against the Giants. There are just seven Patriots on the active roster that were on that team that lost in Glendale, AZ to the Giants. The seven are Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Kevin Faulk, Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Stephen Gostkowski and Vince Wilfork. Center Dan Koppen also played in the game but is on injured reserve. The Giants have 15 players remaining from Super Bowl XLII. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 playoffs, Eli Manning, John Mara, New England Patriots

Bill Belichick on The Big Show explains why he didn’t try to freeze Billy Cundiff

01.23.12 at 5:09 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick, in his weekly interview on The Big Show, suggested that he considered calling a timeout to freeze Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff but that he sensed that Baltimore was rushing its way into the kick. As such, he opted to allow Cundiff to kick under pressure rather than having time to set the play following a timeout.

The decision was validated when Cundiff hooked his 32-year field goal attempt wide left with seconds remaining, a miss that allowed the Patriots to seal a 23-20 victory in the AFC championship game that secured New England’s passage to the Super Bowl.

“We thought about [freezing Cundiff]. We talked about it. I thought they were a litte late making the substitution. I thought they sent it out a little bit late,” said Belichick. “It was fourth-and-2, something like that. I thought maybe they might have even lost track of the downs. It just seemed like it was a late substitution.

“It just seemed to me like they were rushing a little bit. I felt we were better off letting them go, letting them rush and handle it under pressure rather than give them a chance to settle down and get it all lined up properly. But we definitely thought about it.”

Still, Belichick had to wait to figure out that Cundiff’s kick had sailed wide.

“I really couldn’€™t tell whether the ball was good or not. Then I looked at the referee. He didn’€™t give any signal at all. He stood there for quite a while,” said Belichick. “Then I saw the fans cheering, and [someone] almost knocked me over. That’€™s when I realized the kick had missed. I was waiting on some kind of signal. ‘€¦ Seemed like it took a little while.”

To listen to the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page. Some highlights from the interview are transcribed below: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Big Show, Bill Belichick, Billy Cundiff

Giants-Patriots the anti-Rex Ryan Super Bowl

01.23.12 at 2:36 pm ET
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Coming into the 2011 NFL season, Jets coach Rex Ryan boldly and proudly predicted that his team was going to win the Super Bowl.

But with the matchup now set for the marquee game of the NFL season, it is much closer to a nightmare for Ryan than the dream season he envisioned, as two of his biggest rivals are facing off.

And at least as far as the Giants are concerned, they seem to be relishing in it.

Some teams are happy getting to Conference Championship games, but #ImReallyGoodAt winning them! 5-0 all time! #ALLIN, read a post from the Giants’ official Twitter page last night.

Even beyond the Giants’€™ apparent dig at the Jets, the game that awaits them is one that does not need much more hype, especially given what happened between them and the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants ended the Patriots’€™ chance at a perfect 19-0 season with a 17-14 win.

With the history that exists between these teams, for many with the Giants, the parallels between their previous Super Bowl matchup and upcoming one are profound.

‘€œIt is kind of eerie,’€ Giants defensive end Justin Tuck told the New York Daily News. ‘€œWe tried to downplay it all along, but I’€™d be lying to you if I said it didn’€™t feel like 2007.’€

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Read More: Eli Manning, Justin Tuck, Rex Ryan, Victor Cruz

Ravens’ Terrell Suggs: ‘A lot of confusion on that last play’

01.23.12 at 1:30 pm ET
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Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who had a protracted debate with ESPN’s Skip Bayless last week, again talked with the “First Take” personality Monday, following the Ravens’ 23-20 loss to the Patriots in the AFC championship game.

Suggs said there was some uncertainty on the Ravens’ sideline during the final possession, as the scoreboard indicated a different down than what the Ravens thought.

“There was just a lot of confusion on that last play,” Suggs said.

When asked if he was implying that the Patriots deceived the Ravens by putting the wrong down on the scoreboard, Suggs reprimanded Bayless.

“No, I’m not saying that. And Skip, stop that. I know what you’re doing,” Suggs said. “You know what I’m talking about with the confusion. When Anquan Boldin fumbled the ball out of bounds, we thought he fumbled it past the first-down marker, we thought we had a first down, which we didn’t. But we’re reading two different things.

“No, I’m not saying that. So, Skip, once again, stop it. Be an analyst. Don’t be a douchebag. You know what I mean.”

Although he had no tackles (or any other statistics), Suggs said he did his job — specifically making life difficult for tight end Rob Gronkowski — and that the Ravens defenders “stopped the people we needed to stop.”

Suggs did give some credit to the Patriots and said that despite holding Tom Brady to his lowest postseason passer rating, the Ravens didn’t get the best of him. “No, because he’s going to play another Super Bowl and we’re going home to play with our kids,” he said.

Read More: Skip Bayless, Terrell Suggs, Tom Brady,
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