Super Bowl XLVIII: Three Patriots-related story lines to keep tabs on Sunday
The Patriots haven’t played in 10 days and won’t play another meaningful game again for 214 days at the very earliest. This does not mean that Patriots fans should be allowed to tune out American football for the next seven-plus months, though. In fact, this Sunday’s little matchup between the Broncos and Seahawks (6:30 p.m., FOX) will offer up plenty of Pats related story lines.
A look at what to keep tabs on if you’re a Patriots backer:
The Manning-Brady thing
Tom Brady’s “legacy” took a small hit in the AFC Championship game as he had a relatively average performance, throwing for 277 yards on 24-of-38 passing with a 93.9 passer rating. He is now 2-2 against Peyton Manning in the playoffs.
But those who back Brady in the “greatest of this era” argument can save some face if Manning comes up short this Sunday. With a loss in New Jersey, Manning would be 1-2 in the Super Bowl (Brady is 3-2). Number 18 also really needs to have a strong individual performance this Sunday if he wants his name to be tossed around the barroom with names like Montana and Elway in any G.O.A.T. argument. Manning has yet to have played well in the “Big Game” as he has an average Super Bowl passer rating of 85.1 and has as many touchdowns thrown as interceptions (two each).
The Welker choke
At Tuesday night’s Celtics-Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, Wes Welker was shown sitting in the stands on the JumboTron. An animated fan sitting behind Welker was making “choke” and “drop” gestures behind the Broncos receiver’s back but they were visible for all in the arena to see. It’s clear that Welker has gained a reputation for coming up small in the big moment, lowlighted by his “drop” in the closing moments of Super Bowl XLVI against the Giants and his slip-up against the Ravens in the AFC title game last year on a key third down. Patriots fans who hold resentment – and of course – Bill Belichick, wouldn’t mind seeing Welker’s trend continue on Sunday.
A redemption Carroll
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll coached the Patriots for three years (1997-99), but it’s almost as though those days have been erased, Men in Black–style, from the minds of New England fans and the NFL archives. Patriots fans got over the Carroll-era quickly. Those three Super Bowl titles in four years helped move matters along.
Still, Carroll’s Patriots lost one more game per year in each of his three seasons in Foxboro and New England might be the only place in America where he is regarded as a hokey, below-average coach. If Carroll wins a Super Bowl title Sunday, it’s entirely possible that Patriots fans will begin to look back on those late 1990s teams in a much different light and begin to see Carroll as one of the best defensive minds in the league today like the rest of the country.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS