Celtics

Who are the Pats? They're AFC Champs

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Who are the Pats? They're AFC Champs

What can you say about that game?

How do you take the emotions of those 60 minutes, or even just the last 1:44, and quantify how much it means to every one involved, how much it changes the past, potentially changes the future, and how close it all came to slipping away?

For the next few days, and for the better part of the next two weeks, that's what we'll do here at SRO. But for now, let's just keep it simple:

The Patriots are back in the Super Bowl.

I wasn't sure I'd ever see it again. I certainly didn't know when. But after a season full of ups, downs and inconsistent play, after so many injuries, an eight-game win streak, a (gasp) two-game losing streak and countless arguments centered around one frustrating question Who are these New England Patriots? we finally know the answer.

Who are these Patriots?

They're AFC Champions.

Theyre Wilfork holding down the trenches, doing things a man his size isn't supposed to do. They're Spikes and Mayo wreaking havoc in the middle, and Mark Anderson doing the same around the edge. They're Arrington and Moore holding on for dear life on the corners, with Chung and McCourty as the last line of defense. Theyre BenJarvus Green-Ellis running hard with his head down, regardless of whether his helmet's on top. Theyre Gronks strength and resilience. Hernandez's elusiveness. Welkers toughness. Theyre Brady. Theyre Belichick.

They're not 2001, 2003, 2004 or 2007.

They're 2011, now 2012. And they're heading back to the Super Bowl.

If you're a Pats fan, you know exactly what that means.

For the next two weeks, no matter where you live or what you do, your life's about to get better. For the next two weeks, work wont be as painful. Commutes wont feel as long. Theres always something to watch, always something to read. Depressed about the Celtics? Pissed off about the Sox? For the next two weeks, it's not so bad.

As of last night, we all picked up a holiday. But not just any holiday. The Super Bowl doesn't come with any family obligations, fancy dinners, expensive presents or ugly sweaters. It's a holiday where your only responsibility is to drink beer, eat delicious garbage and watch your favorite team play on the biggest stage in all of sports. Your friends don't make excuses of why they can't come out or have to go home early. When it comes to the Super Bowl there are no excuses. It's a celebration unlike anything in sports, and few other things in life.

There was a time when we may have taken it for granted. A stretch where this was the expectation, instead of the dream. But after four years, the dream is back, and we'll appreciate every second.

The Patriots are back in the Super Bowl.

One game stands between so many people, and so much history.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Agent says Gordon Hayward is unlikely to return this season

Agent says Gordon Hayward is unlikely to return this season

Hopes that the Celtics would have Gordon Hayward back in the lineup later this year were dashed last night by Hayward's agent, Mark Bartelstein.

Hayward underwent surgery Wednesday night for a fractured and dislocated left tibia, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens had said earlier in the day that Hayward's prognosis would be better known after doctors saw the extent of the damage. When the operation was over, Bartelstein told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski not to expect Hayward to play again this season.

But there is good news:

MORE:

“We’re expecting this to be a full recovery,” Stevens had said earlier. “No timeline on it, but a full recovery.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Kyrie Irving’s struggles, not having Gordon Hayward, and the Celtics losing for the 2nd time in as many nights.

6:31 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to discuss the message delivered by Hayward to the fans before the game, what was going on with Kyrie’s shot, and why they failed in stopping The Greek Freak.

10:33 - Albert Breer joins BST to preview the Falcons/Patriots Sunday night game and if Atlanta is in the middle of a Super Bowl hangover.

15:40 - In a new game called On The Clock, each person gets 40 seconds to rant on their selected subject including if Red Sox fans can root for the Yankees if the playoffs and how painful the Bruins season will be. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE