New England Patriots fans are hoping Super Bowl XLVI is a day of revenge and reward.
Four years after a championship loss against the New York Giants, thousands of Patriots supporters swarmed Gillette Stadium to see the team off to Indianapolis, seething for redemption.
“I hope they shut down [Giants quarterback Eli] Manning and put some points on the board early on,” said Brian Welter of Walpole.
Welter, decked out in Patriots apparel, said he was confident New England would beat New York next weekend.
Superfan Chris Tavico, of Malden, called the Patriots’ potential Super Bowl win a “fourth-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and said he wouldn’t have missed Sunday’s send-off for anything in the world.
“[The Super Bowl] will be a tight game, but I have faith that the Patriots will come out on top,” said Tavico. “We are a city of champions and you can’t take that away from us.”
Revelers were impressed with the massive turnout as fans furiously funneled into Foxboro to secure seats in the stands.
Quarterback Tom Brady and several other players spoke briefly to the swelling crowd, mostly thanking them for their support, before filing onto a bus to head to the airport.
“We have the greatest fans in America,” Brady said, drawing a roar of applause from the crowd.
“We’re going down there for one reason. We’re going to give it our best, and hopefully we have a lot more people at our party next weekend.”
Matt Connery of Mansfield couldn’t believe how many fans were on scene yesterday to wish their team well.
“It’s just a great show of support,” said Connery. “It’s going to be a great game.”
Dinner with No. 85
The night before the Patriots left for Indianapolis to prepare for the big game, wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was hungry for some local grub.
No. 85 tweeted, looking for a free ride to dinner in the Foxborough area.
Brett Wood of Norwood answered the tweet in time and scooped up Ochocinco to grab a meal.
Wood said his dinner conversation with Ochocinco consisted of “video games, my amazing wife, and Crocs.”
Fans parked their cars on overpasses all along Interstate 93, leading to Logan Airport, holding signs so that the Patriots’ players would see them as they passed by.
One sign, written in large, black lettering, read, “Bring it home!”
Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear