Boston Metro – Feb 1, 2008 – Christopher Price – For the 2007 Patriots, the final step on a long road comes Sunday evening in Glendale, Ariz.
New England enters the game 18-0 with a chance to make history. With a victory over the Giants, the Patriots would be the first team since the 1972 Dolphins to complete a perfect season with a Super Bowl. In addition, theyd become the first team in the 88-year history of the NFL to finish a season 19-0.
It’s a challenge that leaves quarterback Tom Brady in awe.
I think its the biggest game of all of our lives, Brady said yesterday. My life, the entire team, our coaches, were going to be remembering this game for as long as we live, win or lose.
Were going to have great memories of this experience, or were going to look at it truly as a missed opportunity.
Bradys characterization of Sunday’s game as an all-or-nothing proposal for the Patriots is dead on, according to sports performance psychologist Dr. John F. Murray.
“If the Patriots lose this game, on perhaps the biggest world stage ever, they will be crowned the greatest choke of all time, said Murray, whos studied New Englands run to perfection closely all season. On the other hand, if they win this game â€? especially if they win handily or with a clutch performance â€? they will indeed go down as the greatest-performing team in the history of the NFL and perhaps the greatest team ever.
But for many right now, the talk of becoming the greatest team ever can wait. Theres one more game to consider and plenty of things to worry about. On offense, dont expect the Patriots to feature many exotic looks.
Now that theyre out of the Foxborough cold, expect the Patriots to throw more than theyve done in their two previous postseason outings, especially if New York leaves Randy Moss alone in single coverage. On defense, New England will likely focus its energies on stopping the Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress combination (as well as running back Brandon Jacobs) thats carried the Giants to the Super Bowl.
Rodney Harrison says that if all that happens Sunday, there will be time to bask in their accomplishment. Until then, theres work to do.
Once were done with this game and we take care of business, then well have the rest of our lives to sit back and reflect on that and tell people how great we thought we were, Harrison said. Right now, thats not the time or place to think about it.
Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.