FOXBORO -- Brian Waters played football in the AFC West for 11 years. You've got to assume he has some hatred banked for the Broncos, right?
"Not as much as I used to," Waters said Wednesday. "Being where I was before, that just kind of came along with the job. You kind of got accustomed to the fact that there were going to be certain rivalry weeks that things were going to be more emphasized."
Though the rivalry aspect is lacking in New England, Waters is expecting a dogfight Saturday night. He refused to be surprised at Denver's regular season highs and recent Wild Card win over Pittsburgh. And all the pooh-poohing about the Broncos running a college-style option offense? Waters isn't listening. From what this Patriots O-lineman can see, Denver is getting by on something more tangible than Divine Intervention.
"If you watch them and really play close attention to them, they play the type of football that has always been very productive in the NFL," Waters said. "They run the ball well, they move the ball in the run game, they get after the quarterback and they also stop the run. Theyre a very fast defense. They have some really good specialists, with a kicker who is able to kick the ball far and make lots of long field goals. They have a really good returner back there in Eddie Royal. They play the football game the way a lot of teams have played historically that have been productive."
New home team, same old mission of beating the Broncos.
But there's one, big thing about this Denver matchup that escaped him in Kansas City: the chance at a conference championship. Waters has been to the Divisional playoffs before (the Chiefs lost to Indianapolis in 2003) and wants to step forward. He's excited, he's ready.
He hopes the rest of New England can feel it as the Broncos ride into town.
"I expect it to be electric. Its the playoffs. Its a great opportunity for everybody, whoever is touching that field from both sides. I think the energy will be high. I expect it to be as electric as its been. It was electric out there, so I expect it to be even better here."
BRIGHTON, Mass -- It hasn’t been an easy road for Bruins rookie goaltender Zane McIntyre since getting called back up by Boston a few weeks ago.
The 24-year-old netminder is trying to give the B’s top-level goaltending while earning the trust of the Bruins coaching staff, and adjusting to the sporadic playing time that goes along with playing understudy to a No. 1 netminder like Tuukka Rask. The three goals allowed in the third period of Sunday afternoon’s 5-1 loss to the Penguins didn’t look good on paper, but really there wasn’t much McIntyre could do with the defense totally breaking down in front of him during a 12-shot barrage in the final 20 minutes.
The 3.95 goals against average and .860 save percentage certainly look like a little frightening for the first-year goalie, but the truth is there’s going to be some bumps as he adjusts to life as a backup for the first time.
“[The adjustment] is mostly between the ears, to be honest,” said McIntyre. “I have confidence in my physical abilities and I know what I can do, and what makes my game successful. So right now it’s just building confidence every day in practice and staying persistent, staying with it. I know good things are going to happen when you surround yourself with good people, and the biggest thing is battling every day and making sure I’m contributing to the team.”
McIntyre will certainly have to be sharp if he’s put back in the crease on Tuesday night against the Red Wings after Rask exited from Sunday’s loss in the second period with symptoms of a migraine. The Bruins top goalie missed practice on Monday while getting himself checked out medically, and there’s a chance he could be out if the symptoms are in any way related to the Roman Josi shot he took off his neck last week.
“I’m just taking it day-by-day to be honest. That’s what I’ve always done in the past, and I’m just trying to build up confidence every day,” said McIntyre, who had been lights out in Providence prior to getting the call to Boston. “We’ll just see what happens and roll with it.”
That’s a challenge McIntyre will certainly be up for in a different way than Sunday’s mop-up duty, but it remains to be seen just how steady-footed the Bruins will be about their goalie situation if Rask is expected to miss any time this week.
Devin McCourty says that if the Patriot win the Super Bowl years from now people will remember the win, not the fact Roger Goodell did not attend AFC Championship.