American football: Super Bowl date for Patriots and Packers

For four years the New England Patriots have performed in a way so at odds with the instincts of their head coach that at times he has seemed in need of psychiatric help. For their most important game of the period, however, at least half the side remembered his roots, and played like a Bill Parcells team.

Before arriving in Massachusetts, Parcells had won two Super Bowls with a New York Giants outfit that relied on a brilliantly intimidating defense, could run the ball well, and appeared willing to pass only when all else had failed. Yet Parcells' first action in charge of his new side was to use the top pick of the draft to acquire Drew Bledsoe, the quarterback billed as the new Dan Marino. There followed a fascinating period during which probably the most traditional coach in the league presided over its most hi-tech offense and made do with a defense that was never remotely considered among the league's best.

Small wonder that when the equally lopsided Jacksonville Jaguars arrived for Sunday's AFC Championship game the general expectation was for a high- scoring bonanza. Instead Bledsoe's unit was rendered virtually powerless, but the Patriots won 20-6 thanks to a superhuman effort from their defenders.

The Patriots now meet the Green Bay Packers in this season's Super Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, on Sunday week. The Pack were much more rounded as they dispensed with the Carolina Panthers in Arctic conditions in the NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field, and have already been installed as heavy favourites. The Pats' only chance would appear to lie with the wiles of Parcells, who would become the first coach to win the Super Bowl with different sides if he did pull off an upset.

Midway through the second quarter of the game at Foxboro the stadium lights went out, which seemed appropriate on a day that New England's attack completely lost its spark. Despite scoring early, it stuttered from the start, got worse, and was only rescued by the Pats' excellent special teams (coached by Parcells himself) and resolute defense, which enabled them to go in at half-time with a 13-3 lead.

In the third quarter Mark Brunell, the Jags quarterback, added to his growing reputation as the most dangerous young play-caller in the league, but a series of impressive drives only resulted in the lead being cut to 13-6. Then with just under four minutes left, and the Jags seemingly poised to score the tying touchdown, Brunell's pass was intercepted by Willie Clay in the end zone. Two further turnovers allowed the Patriots to win by the deceptively comfortable score of 20-6, which was almost as unfair as the fact that Brunell's one bad play proved crucial, rather than Bledsoe's generally dismal display.

Green Bay's Brett Favre was also at fault as the Pack began hesitantly in temperatures that, with the wind chill, went as low as -27C. Favre was intercepted deep in his own half, and then dropped the ball while scrambling, the Panthers capitalising on both to score 10 points.

But in between Favre had thrown a perfect 29-yard scoring pass to Dorsey Levens, and as the game progressed so it was the quarterback's virtues that prevailed and, with Levens contributing 205 yards, the Pack ran out 30-13 winners. It was the sweetest of triumphs for the fanatical fans of the NFL's smallest but oldest franchise, one that returns it to the Super Bowl for the first time since a certain Vince Lombardi was in charge, but nobody in Wisconsin was happier than Favre himself. "This is what we play our whole lives for," he said.

Bobby Ross, the head coach of San Diego until his resignation a fortnight ago, has taken charge of Detroit after agreeing a five-year, pounds 4.7m deal.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence