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SUPER BOWL NOTES

Patriots Have Rams' Respect

January 29, 2002

NEW ORLEANS — St. Louis Ram safety Kim Herring doesn't have a problem with New England making the Super Bowl. It's just that he, like much of the TV audience, squirmed in his seat over the controversial call in the Patriot-Oakland Raider game.

In that snowy showdown, an apparent fumble by Tom Brady was--after a review of the replay--ruled an incomplete pass. That allowed the Patriots to maintain possession, kick the tying field goal, and eventually win in overtime.

"I'm not saying anything about that," Herring said with a smile.

"Controversy reigned through that whole area. Naw, I'm not going to say too much about that--but it was a fumble."

Like Herring, teammate Tyoka Jackson was watching from the warmth of his own living room. But he felt the Raiders' pain.

"I would have felt sick if I was them. Sick," Jackson said. "It's one of those things. Usually a football game doesn't come down to one play. You can point to five, six, seven things. But that was a heartbreaker for Oakland. But New England still had to make plays to win the game.

"No one is going to say that [the Patriots] don't deserve to be in the Super Bowl, believe me. At least no one on this team."

*

Just as they did last time they made the Super Bowl, the Patriots overcame an 0-2 start. That, linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, should give every team hope.

"Every team going into training camp, every fan in the NFL cheering on their team going into training camp, the way the NFL is now, you can realistically say, 'We've got a shot to go all the way,'" he said. "Us being 5-11 last year, the Giants and the Ravens not even making the playoffs the year before, and they're the two representatives in [last year's] Super Bowl....

"When we started 0-2, of course there was a little bit of doubt. But we had started 0-2 before and reached this point, so there was hope in our locker room."

*

Patriot assistant coaches spent Monday in Foxboro, Mass., working on the game plan and are not due to arrive in New Orleans until this afternoon.

Sam Farmer

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