BOSTON — The New England Patriots are going to the Super Bowl. In an uncharacteristic game with mistakes on offense and pivotal plays on defense, the Pats beat the Baltimore Ravens, 23-20. They will face the New York Giants in the Big Game.
Kelleher’s Bar in Roslindale is the sort of old school place that’s not too loud and never too crowded. And everyone was relaxed when the Pats had the football up 13-10 at the beginning of the second half.
“I’m not worried,” said Joe Catalfamo as he sipped a Budweiser, wearing a grey Reebok hoodie that made him look like Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
But Catalfamo sure didn’t sound like the cautious coach.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve got it in the bag, but we’re gonna win the game,” Catalfamo said.
But this playoff game didn’t follow the script. Starting quarterback Tom Brady did not march down the field in the final minute to put the Patriots ahead. Brady threw two interceptions, the second giving Baltimore’s quarterback the chance to do what Brady is known for And Joe Flacco almost did: Throwing would have been a winning touchdown pass with 22 seconds left, but a Pats cornerback knocked it from the receiver’s hands at the last moment: incomplete.
So the Ravens trotted out their trusty field goal kicker to send the game to overtime. Here’s the call on CBS:
Thirty-two yards to tie it. And look out, look out! It’s no good! No good!
A strip and a shank. New England escaped with the win.
Forget Brady and his record-scoring tight end Rob Gronkowski. This game’s heroes are from the much-maligned defense: big defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, and that cornerback with his last-second game-saving stripped ball.
Pats fan Chuck Langley had hardly heard of the kid.
“That was Moore!” Langley said.
“First name?” I asked him.
“I don’t know his name,” he replied, laughing.
For the record, it’s Sterling Moore, an undrafted rookie that the Pats actually cut last month before bringing back onto the roster.
“Well, you know, it was a nail-biter. I think we were on the lucky side — take it! You know?” Langley said.
That was the feeling on the field afterward, where coach Belichick gave credit to his players for fighting out a tough, tight game.
“Today wasn’t always perfect. But they fought to the final gun and we came out on top,” he said.
Now the Patriots have the chance to come out on top of everybody, by winning the Super Bowl. Yes, they’ve been there four times in the past 10 years. But it has to be unreal for Patriots owner Robert Kraft. While his leadership helped bring the league and players to a contract earlier this year to avoid a lost season, he lost his wife Myra to cancer. The team dedicated its season in her memory. Kraft told fans they’re part of the family.
“Thank you for the support you’ve given us. This is an emotional year,” he said.
Adding to the emotion: the chance to avenge the Super Bowl four years ago. That’s when the then-undefeated Patriots lost to the Giants. Well, they won their conference championship Sunday night in overtime. It’s Pats-Giants again in the Super Bowl.