By Adam H. Beasley
Pro Football Writers of America
TEMPE, Ariz.— Upstairs at the New England Patriots’ Chandler, Ariz., team hotel, the lobby was buzzing with fans, friends and family. After two weeks of anticipation, kickoff was finally just a day away.
Down a flight of stairs, meanwhile, the organization quietly went about final preparations for its seventh Super Bowl since 1996. Instead of a walkthrough, the team held its normal Saturday meetings before posing for the team photo at lunch.
Bill Belichick’s message to his team in the final hours before Sunday’s game?
“Same thing that we talked about all week,” Belichick said. “I don’t think there’s anything that’s happened the last day or two days that will change what we normally do, fundamentally. Just kind of reinforcing some of the key points that we talked about all week.”
The Patriots will have their final meetings Saturday night to go over “a few last-minute reminders,” Belichick said, and then turn in for what they hope is a good night’s sleep.
The Patriots chose not to hold a final walkthrough — “we usually don’t practice on Saturday,” Belichick said — and the first chance their players will have to test out the field at University of Phoenix Stadium will be pregame Sunday.