Tuesday, January 15, 2008


What New England is saying about the Chargers!!

Why bother showing up?
Chargers no match for Super Bowl-bound Pats
By Gerry Callahan | Tuesday, January 15, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com | N.E. Patriots

The Patriots [team stats] were comfortably curled up on their couches Sunday night, halfway through "The Sarah Connor Chronicles," when the next victim on their hit list touched down in San Diego. An estimated 10,000 fans were waiting to greet the Chargers as they got off their buses, hobbled into the team complex and headed for the trainer's room.
Some fans had been waiting on lounge chairs in the parking lot for six hours. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chargers theme song played repeatedly over loud speakers. The charged-up San Diego fans would have been wearing championship T-shirts and hats except for one small problem:
They didn't win a championship. Not even a conference championship.
They won a second-round playoff game and earned the right to travel across three time zones to play the greatest team ever on a day that is expected to be colder than naked ice fishing. If this was a title fight, someone in the Chargers' corner would be screaming: "Stay down! Stay down!"
In breaking down the AFC Championship Game matchup, we would have to give the Chargers a decided edge at two spots - running back and tight end. Except we've got another minor problem: Their star running back and their stud tight end both are hurt and questionable for this Sunday. Nevermind.
On the Patriots' injury front, punter Chris Hanson is feeling a little stiff. He could use some work.
The Patriots opened as 15-point favorites against the Chargers, and that number could go higher as the San Diego injury situation unfolds. Tens of thousands of Patriots fans are scrambling this week to get to Glendale, Ariz., for the Super Bowl, and most of them will book nonrefundable flights. Why not? The players and coaches have to keep up the charade; the fans and media do not. This is such a lopsided matchup that Tom Brady [stats] is thinking of spending a couple of days in Mexico with Jessica Simpson, just to make it fair.
The Patriots will trounce a physically and emotionally spent San Diego team Sunday to go to 18-0. They will head to their fourth Super Bowl in seven years, where they will wrap up more debates than Brit Hume. Best coach. Best quarterback. Best offense. Best team ever. A true dynasty in an era that was designed to prevent dynasties. There goes your neighborhood, Mercury Morris.
The only thing that stood in the Pats' way was a dangerous Indianapolis team, and the spunky Chargers took care of that. We should know by now that the Patriots win even when they don't play. LT goes down. Philip Rivers goes down. The Colts and the Cowboys go home. There is the crazy, cruel, unpredictable NFL, and then there are the Patriots. You watch and you just know: Like Sarah Connor, they're not going to die at the end of the episode.
So let's break down this game. The Patriots are healthier, better rested and at home. The Patriots knocked the Chargers out of the playoffs in San Diego last January and blew them out in Foxboro in this regular season. They never have lost a playoff game at Gillette Stadium. Their quarterback is only playing better than any quarterback ever has played. They're suddenly running the ball.
This week, all the NFL analysts on all the networks will face the same challenge "Saturday Night Live" cast members faced each time they did a skit with Chris Farley: Can they make it through the segment without laughing?
Seriously, when we go through the position-by-position breakdown later this week, are we really going to include coaching? Sounds kind of cruel. Bill Belichick and the Patriots are 17-0. By coincidence, that happens to be the streak that Norval Eugene Turner needs just to get back to .500 for his coaching career. With three teams in 10 seasons, he is 70-87, including playoffs.
There is even plenty of bulletin-board material - and we know the Patriots never let that go to waste. It was only a year ago that Tomlinson said Belichick had no class, and Rivers called Ellis Hobbs [stats] one of the "sorriest corners in the league." Two of the Patriots' emotional leaders, Rodney Harrison [stats] and Junior Seau, are San Diego castoffs. And of course, the Chargers, like so many others, kicked the Patriots in the head when Camera-gate hit the fan.
This is the AFC Championship Game, and these are the Patriots. There is a better chance that we will see sunny and 65 on Sunday than an emotional letdown.
On its Web site yesterday, the Union-Tribune invited readers to rejoice in the great triumph against the Colts. Most of them were ready to sound the trumpets and lead the charge to New England. A guy named Lance Alworth wasn't so confident.
"As you all may know, I played on some great Charger teams of the past, and I have to say that this will go down as one of the most mentally tough, gutsy performances in Charger history," he wrote. "I would like to send my congratulations to the players and the fans and the front office. I would also like to say that this will most likely be the end of the line for this season.
"The 2007 Patriots, in my opinion, are the greatest football team in the history of the NFL. It was a great ride to get this far. Thanks for the memories."

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