MINNEAPOLIS -- This may be old hat for a handful of Patriots.
Guys like Tom Brady (eight Super Bowl appearances), Stephen Gostkowski (five), Devin McCourty (four), Nate Solder (four) and Rob Gronkowski (four) have been through the hoopla of playing for a championship before.
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And while those players have said they aren't taking this experience for granted, Bill Belichick acknowledged that the team gets a shot of energy from the players on the roster who are new to the whole thing.
Belichick told Patriots.com that Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore, two of the most important players in New England's AFC title game victory over the Jaguars, are providing that shot for the Patriots this year.
"It's great to see players like that come onto the team, embrace the team, come from one system to a new team and try to acclimate themselves to what we're doing," said Belichick. "To see them have the success, the results from that, it kind of gives your team an energy that you don't really anticipate.
"You think a lot of times the leadership is coming from the McCourtys and the Solders and the Bradys and those kind of guys. But a lot of times that energy comes from Cooks, Gilmore, or going back to '04 Corey Dillon or '07 Randy Moss -- guys coming from other teams that now have a chance to go to the Super Bowl, or went to the Super Bowl. And that energy level and enthusiasm that they brought made a lot of other guys, who saw the careers those players had like Corey and Randy, how excited they were because it was a chance to play for a championship. It's interesting how that works, it really is."
Belichick will be the first to admit that the Patriots need to do more than simply get excited for Super Bowl 52 to have a shot to beat the Eagles. But if they play the way they did in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game, that wouldn't be a bad place to start.
"We really didn't play the game we wanted to play it through the majority of the game, but our fourth quarter was probably our best quarter of football of the year," Belichick said. "Coaching staff made some great adjustments, our players made some great plays, and we finished the game in a strong fashion."