Matthew Slater gets some big game advice from dad
|01.21.12 at 1:45 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jackie Slater played in exactly one Super Bowl.
His son is one game away from his first.
“I got almost an email every day from him this week, just telling me to really not take this opportunity for granted,” Slater said. “He played 20 years and he only played in one Super Bowl. You realize that this is why we all play the game. Everybody has been brought here for games like this, to win games like this. He just keeps telling me, ‘You can’t let anything come between you and what you have to do on the field on Sunday. You have to be extremely focused.’ Obviously that message has been echoed around here all week. He knows what’s at stake, I know what’s at stake, we all do.”
That one Super Bowl for the elder Slater was Super Bowl XIV in Pasadena, when Jackie’s Rams lost to the Steelers.
Before last Saturday night, the younger Slater had played in two playoff games, losing both. Both like the team, Slater feels like a weight has been lifted.
Adding to the confident feeling is the chemistry in the locker room, which Slater said came from overcoming midseason adversity. That’s when the Patriots were 5-3 and had a porous secondary, contributing to the worst defense in terms of yards allowed, in the NFL.
“I think during the middle of the season we really went through some adversity,” Slater said. “Adversity can do one of two things ‘ it can either tear a team apart or really bring a team together. I think looking back on it now and when we lost those two games back-to-back and everyone was counting us out, we really rallied together and showed some resiliency. I think in hindsight that might have been a good thing for our team. It’s never a good thing to lose football games, but we really responded and we really showed some mental toughness down the stretch being able to string together wins.
“You don’t find that often, that takes something special and this team has it. We realized that as we went along in the season that you know, we have something here, we think we have a chance to do something special. The guys on this team really get along so well. We all just have that same singular focus and we all just want to win. Any of us are willing to do what it takes for the man next to us so we can go out there and achieve our ultimate goal.”
What was the biggest thing that had to change?
“I think our mindset definitely,” Slater said. “We had to start believing that this team is a good football team, meaning us, and we can do something here, we have something here but we had to believe it. Physically everybody has talented players, but I think it’s the chemistry and the mindset that puts you over the top. Once you started believing and buying in and kind of ignoring what was going on outside our team and just focusing on the guys in that locker room and the coaches, then I think we started to see things turn around and it’s brought us all the way to this point.”