The road to Super Bowl XXXVIII is nearing as the
The New England Patriots veteran squad are gunning for a second Super Bowl triumph in three seasons when they take on the Carolina Panthers in
Houston.It should prove to be a great match-up as Carolina Panthers not only embrace their role as underdogs, they think it could give them an edge in
the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.
Coach Bill Belichick, who established a reputation as one of the top defensive minds in the game under Bill Parcells at the New York Giants, can equal
his former mentor in NFL titles if his side can prevail.He has yet to lose a play-off game since taking over the Pats in 2000.But just take a look at
the Carolina Panthers, who won just once two years ago now they have made it to this season's Super Bowl in Houston where they will face the New
England Patriots.In his second year, coach John Fox has created a no-frills, hard-hitting team who twice beat the defending champions Tampa Bay and
also swept past Dallas, St Louis and Philadelphia to reach the big game.The Panthers may have the same name as the club that finished 1-15 two years
ago, but they're a different bunch.
While Carolina has won six straight, including three in the playoffs,the last two on the road against NFC favorites St. Louis and Philadelphia,there
is no debate the Patriots should be favored. They have won 14 in a row, only the second time in NFL history a team has done that.The Patriots are more
experienced in these surroundings, of course. And their resilience, work ethic and brilliant game plans have created a sort of inevitability about the
Patriots’ results since September, when they last were beaten.
Players to watch out for in the Superbowl Final.
Until this season, Delhomme was only a household
name in his own household, but the former New Orleans back-up has been doing his best to change that.His contribution tends to be overlooked amid the
plaudits for his team's defence, especially as their ground-based attack means Delhomme doesn't look downfield too often.
Confirmation that Davis will be fit to play in
the Super Bowl after an injury scare is good news indeed for the Panthers.The Carolina offence revolves around the man who has rushed for a
career-best 1,444 yards this season.Despite being slowed by a torn left quadriceps, the 29-year-old has managed 266 yards and a touchdown in three
Ricky Manning Jr
Manning stole the show in Carolina's shock 14-3
win over Philadelphia in the NFC Championship game in more ways than one. He helped the Panthers seal their surprise Super Bowl berth by intercepting
Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb three times in 10 minutes.
Harrison has played a major part in executing
coach Bill Belichick's renowned defensive strategies this season.The 31-year-old has made 125 tackles,including 94 solo efforts,nailing three sacks,
two forced fumbles and three interceptions.His attempts to halt the progress of Stephen Davis are expected to be one of the highlights of Sunday's big
Brown has had just 40 receptions this season,
his lowest total since becoming a starter for the New England in 2000.But if quarterback Tom Brady manages to unlock Carolina's tough defence on
Sunday,it could well be Brown who turns the key.
[Edited on 27/1/04 by TRD]