MIAMI — What is a Patriot game unless one of them goes up to an opponent after play is dead and introduces himself?
A week ago, Mr. Pat Sullivan, general manager, met Mr. Howie Long, Raider lineman, with celebrated consequences.
Sunday, during the Pats' 31-14 victory over the Dolphins, Mr. Don Blackmon, New England linebacker, introduced himself to Mr. Fuad Reveiz, Miami placekicker.
The Pats were leading 17-7 in the first half and Reveiz had just missed a 31-yard field goal. As he was walking away, Blackmon ran up to him and said something. Reveiz, a 5-11, 222-pounder, then slapped Blackmon, 6-3, 235, on the facemask.
Blackmon seemed to be weighing counter-attack possibilities, but settled for jumping up and down and pointing the offense out to any passing official. No flag was thrown.
Blackmon: "I told Fuad 'Good kick, way to go.' I didn't mean anything by it. I was just enthusiastic. Coach (Ray) Berry told me I shouldn't have done it.
"Was I shocked when he slapped me? Real shocked."
Reveiz was told of Blackmon's locker-room remark.
"I did what I did because he questioned my mother's profession," said the 22-year-old rookie. "If he told you that he told me I had made a good kick then the vocabulary he uses to express a good kick is much different than mine. I never heard of anyone putting a reference to your mother in describing a good kick.
"What happened was that I lowered myself to his level. I hit him in his face mask. If he had swung back, I would've gone for his neck. I just got pretty uptight and I shouldn't have.
"Right now, I feel like crawling under the tarpaulin and staying there. It's the first time I ever swung at anyone in all the time I've ever played football, either in college or up here with the pros.
"I've been taunted before. Never like this, though. I'm not going to just stand there and take it if someone says a thing like that about my mother. He's talking about my family now and I don't think that has any place in a football game. I don't care how big he is. I don't care if he's seven feet tall."
The Patriots will become the third wild-card team to play in the Super Bowl. The only one to win was the '80 Raiders.
The other was the '75 Cowboys, who lost to the Steelers.
Also, the '69 Kansas City Chiefs, a second-place finisher in the AFC West, beat the Vikings in the Super Bowl. That was before the term wild-card was used.
The Patriots, however, are the first wild-card team that ever won all three games on the road to get to the Super Bowl.
Better Late Than Never Dept.: Lamar Hunt, presenting the AFC Championship Game trophy to Patriots owner Bill Sullivan, said: "It was 26 years ago when we offered Billy the opportunity to become the eighth and last team in the American Football League. Now you are the last of the original eight to win a chamionship. Our congratulations to you and Raymond Berry on a wonderful victory."
Bill Sullivan also harked back to the beginning.
"I remember well when Lamar, 27 years old, said if I could come up with a check for $25,000 by Tuesday, I could have the eighth AFL franchise. I had $8,300 in the bank and I borrowed the rest. And here we are, finally."
In the crowded Patriot locker room, Berry found and hugged his wife Sally, saying: "Do you believe this?"
Was Berry surprised to be on his way to the Super Bowl?
"Surprised is a very tame word," he said. "I don't know enough good English to describe how I feel."
Quarterback Steve Grogan, eased out of the Patriots' starting lineup due to an injury six games ago, said: "I told Tony Eason one thing after the game: 'Thank you.' Then I got tears in my eyes for about the fifth time."
Eason on Dan Marino: "He had a great year and he is a great quarterback. We spoke after the game and he congratulated me. We know each other pretty well and I think we are happy to see each other do well."
Let the Hype Begin Dept.: Patriot offensive tackle Brian Holloway, on his team's next opponent: "With the Bears we know we're facing maybe the greatest team that's ever been on the field at one time."