Rams always memorable opponent for Brady

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Rams always memorable opponent for Brady

LONDON - Every goose bump that February 3, 2002 raised on your arms, every hair that stood up on your neck, is still matched bump-for-bump, hair-for-hair by Tom Brady.

There is zero carryover between the 2012 Rams and the team the Patriots will play Sunday evening at Wembley. Even the Rams uniforms are different now.

But the specter of lining up across from the Rams once again prompted a question Friday morning about what Tom Brady remembered from Super Bowl XXXVI, the night when the Patriots dynasty was born.

"We played one of the best teams that Ive ever played against," Brady said of that Rams team, which won 14 regular-season games (including a 24-17 decision in Foxboro). "I think thats really where Patriots football and team football really kind of started for us in New England. It took a team effort to win that game."

The Patriots were generally regarded as the worst team in football after starting the season 0-2. But as the year wore on, the Patriots defense became a whole far greater than the sum of its parts. Meanwhile, Brady was emerging as a clutch, precise quarterback with command of his job.

What happened that night ushered in a period of excellence that the Patriots have continued. That game, and the two subsequent Super Bowl wins in 2003 and 2004, set a standard for Patriots football that has made it hard for people to keep from regarding any season that doesn't end with the Patriots hoisting a Lombardi Trophy as a failure. It was a blessing. It is sometimes a burden.

But it's one the team -- and Brady -- seem willing to carry.

"It doesnt seem like long ago, but at times it does seem like it was a long time ago," said Brady. "How do I feel about that experience? That was a long time ago, a lot of hits ago. You win a Super Bowl, it was my second year in the league, you never forget that. Its something embedded in your mind and heart for the rest of your life. There were so many great teammates that were a part of that, and guys that Im still friends with."

The Patriots were Cinderella then. Now, they are far closer to the 2001 Rams -- stocked with talent, trying to pull the right levers to find the right combinations to succeed.

"It was an exceptional team we faced," said Brady. "They had some Hall of Famers on that team, some guys that were playing at the height of their career, and we found a way to beat them. We lost to them earlier that season, so it was a very memorable night and certainly since then, its been more than I could ever ask for as a person and a player. Im sure a lot of my teammates feel the same way.

It was a seminal moment in New England sports history. Fans of a certain age and persuasion will always look at the Red Sox Impossible Dream season in 1967 as being the highlight of their lives as fans.

But for many others born long after that baseball season, the Impossible Team of 2001 is every bit as special.

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that. 

 

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Zdeno Chara said he is “feeling better” after going through a full practice with the Bruins, but the captain won’t be making the one game road trip to Buffalo for Saturday afternoon’s matinee game vs. the Sabres. 

Chara was going through line rushes and battle drills with the rest of his teammates while practicing for the second day in a row, but made it clear that his lower body injury hasn’t been cleared for game action yet. 

“It’s day-to-day. It feels better…yeah. But it’s still day-to-day,” said a rather laconic Chara when it came to questions about his injury. “It would feel much better [to play] than it feels [not playing].”

Claude Julien said his 39-year-old defenseman has moved into true “day-to-day” status as he nears a return after missing what will be his sixth game in a row on Saturday afternoon, but that he isn’t quite ready to go just yet.

“[Chara] and [Noel] Acciari won’t be on the trip,” said Julien. “I think [Chara] is getting pretty close. When you see him at practice things are going pretty well for him. I think that the term day-to-day is fitting for him right now. A lot of times when we say day-to-day we don’t know whether it’s going to be two days, three days or even a week. But in his case I would say that day-to-day is really day-to-day now with him.” 

One thing the Bruins can be heartened by is that they’ve managed to survive without Chara: the B’s have gone 2-2-1 and allowed just nine goals in the five games since their No. 1 defenseman went down. They have been able to continue collecting points in sometimes ugly, workmanlike fashion. 

That gives the Bruins the luxury of not rushing their D-man along before he’s ready and gives some of their other defensemen added confidence that they can effectively do the job with or without their 6-foot-9 stopper.