Things Heating Up In Motown

Eric McHugh takes a look at the Patriots secondary, an area which the team will surely be focusing on during this offseason. McHugh also notes that the Patriots’ ranking in pass defense this season would not have placed them in good stead for the Super Bowl, had they made it that far. John Molori’s Media Blitz has a look at a few of the national stories surrounding the Super Bowl. One of the topics is the idea that the Patriots are done as a contender. Molori dismisses this notion. Yesterday on ESPN radio Nick Cafardo was strongly asserting that the Patriots “little” dynasty is over, that they’re done winning championships and that the league has caught up with them. He also complained about the Patriots “lying” about injuries. Mike Felger tells us briefly that things have not thawed between Bill Belichick and Tom Jackson, though the latter insists there is no ill will on his part.

John Tomase examines Massachusetts native Lofa Tatupu and his improbable journey to where he is today. Nick Cafardo has a look at league MVP Shaun Alexander, who is ready for a couple of big payoffs…the Super Bowl and free agency. Dan Shaughnessy has a piece on Seahawks linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski, who is a product of Harvard. Tomase has more on Kacyvenski, who had to overcome a tough childhood to achieve what he has in life. Jeff Jacobs has more on Kacyvenski and also Niko Koutouvides, who both have New England ties. John Altavilla looks at the Seahawks, who know this could be their one and only shot at a Super Bowl title. Cafardo’s notebook has Lofa Tatupu enjoying his first Super Bowl media day. Tomase’s notebook has Seattle’s Grant Wistrom looking back at the worst day of his life…the night the Patriots upset his Rams in the Super Bowl.

Jerome Solomon has Joey Porter not giving the media anything inflammatory to run with during yesterday’s media session. Michael Felger has more on Porter, whose behavior yesterday was quite out of the ordinary for him. John Altavilla looks at Ben Roethlisberger, who could pass Terry Bradshaw in the hearts of Steelers fans with the way his career has started. Solomon’s notebook reports on Jerome Bettis being given a key to the city of Detroit, an honor he shares with Saddam Hussein. Seriously. Felger’s notebook has Sean Morey talking about his love-hate relationship with the Patriots, his hometown team.

There’s plenty more Super Bowl coverage in the New York Sports Pages and Bay Area Sports Pages.

Tony Massarotti says that despite all the insanity of this offseason, the Red Sox team that has been assembled for 2006 could be one of the more balanced and versatile editions of the hometown nine. Gordon Edes looks at Alex Gonzalez, who will take a physical this morning, and should all go well, he will represent the final piece of the infield puzzle for the Red Sox this season. Sean McAdam reports that Gonzalez took his physical yesterday, but has a few remaining tests to take this morning before the deal becomes official. Michael Silverman also says the physical will be today, and notes that this deal carries very little risk for the Red Sox. Paul Doyle also reports on Gonzalez.

Edes has a nice piece this morning on Tommy Harper, who has been through a lot of ups and downs with the Red Sox, but thanks to John Henry and company, he finally feels at home and part of the family with the team. Dom Amore has Johnny Damon saying that the Red Sox pursuit and acquisition of Coco Crisp has made it easier for him to move on from the team. Silverman’s notebook reports that Gabe Kapler will be invited to spring training.

Shira Springer looks at Doc Rivers and the Celtics still trying to piece things together and figure out how to best use Wally Szczerbiak and Paul Pierce together. Steve Bulpett talks to Kevin McHale, who thinks that both his club and the Celtics came out of last week’s deal as winners. Bulpett’s notebook has Paul Pierce giving his thoughts on the deal.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell looks at the roll that the Bruins find themselves on, quite a turnaround consider how the club has looked for most of the season. Steve Conroy lists out five reasons for the Bruins remarkable transformation. Conroy also looks at Josh Langfeld, who was picked up from the Sharks off of waivers by the Bruins yesterday.

Amalie Benjamin has a look at Duke’s J.J. Redick, who along with the rest of the ranked second in the nation Blue Devils, will invade Conte Forum tonight to take on the 15th ranked Boston College Eagles. Rich Thompson and Michael Vega each note that junior guard Sean Marshall will be handed the assignment of trying to guard Redick. Lenny Megliola has a look at Joe Pagliuca, a junior guard for Duke, who is the son of Steve Pagliuca, one of the Celtics majority owners.

FSN has Celtics/Suns at 7:30. (HD) ESPN has Notre Dame/West Virginia at 7:00 (HD) and BC/Duke at 9:00. (HD) NESN has Virginia/NC State at 7:00. ESPN2 has Iowa/Purdue at 7:00 and Texas/Missouri at 9:00.

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