Illustration by Gus Morais • Special to the Star Tribune  View full image
Illustration by Gus Morais • Special to the Star Tribune
Super Bowl LII  special section

Bringing the fight to us

The eighth chapter of New England’s Super Bowl saga introduced whispers of internal strife as the five-time champions chased a sixth Lombardi Trophy. Now, as the Patriots try to win a title in Minneapolis, they’ll face a Philadelphia team that has traits that first New England champion showed 16 years ago. The Eagles will test 40-year-old Tom Brady with an aggressive pass rush, and they’ll employ a forward-thinking game plan with a young coach trying to win with a backup QB after his starter was lost to injury. Sound familiar? As the Patriots and Eagles face off, New England’s run, in some ways, has come full circle.

The Patriots’ improbable comeback last season edged the Falcons, but they will need to counter a strong Eagles pass rush (bottom) to win their sixth
Associated Press photos

Patriots have Super Bowl legacy of seizing the day; will Eagles' pressure turn the tables?

February 4, 2018

Sixteen years ago, as the St. Louis Rams strolled into the Louisiana Superdome favored by 14 points to win their second Super Bowl in three years because of a record-breaking offense and resourceful defense, Kurt Warner had a gnawing feeling the upstart opponent he had shredded in November had something different in store for him.

He just didn’t know what.  Read more

Though Patriots running back Dion Lewis wasn’t a huge factor in the AFC title game, he averaged 74.5 rushing yards and scored eight TDs in the final
David J. Phillip • Associated Press

Once-jettisoned Lewis is now a gem of a running back for Patriots

February 3, 2018

He arrived, as many future Patriots standouts do, with little fanfare, a transaction few probably cared about even in New England.

It was Dec. 31, 2014, when the Patriots signed Dion Lewis, some pint-size running back who had been drafted by the Eagles and hadn’t even played an NFL game in two-plus years.  Read more

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long reaches for San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2
Chris Szagola • Associated Press

Trading places: Eagles' Blount, Long bring Patriots intel to Philadelphia huddles

February 4, 2018

The Patriots have gained a reputation for ruthlessly acquiring information, whether it’s the infamous Spygate investigation into illegal filming of an opponent’s practices or this midseason’s signing of ex-Steelers linebacker James Harrison. That addition came while New England and Pittsburgh were headed toward the AFC’s No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the playoffs.

This time, the Eagles — the Patriots’ Super Bowl opponent on Sunday — have an inside edge thanks to two signings made last spring, well before either team anticipated this matchup. Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount and defensive end Chris Long were part of the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons a year ago.  Read more

Patriots coach Bill Belichick
Patrick Semansky, AP
Patriots coach Bill Belichick

Craig: Greatest pro football coach ever? Belichick part of great debate

February 4, 2018

David Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, assures us that metallurgists have assured him that an enshrinee’s bronze bust will last 40,000 years.

Some of us will have to take their word for it.  Read more

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) celebrates a touchdown with Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Aziz Shittu (61), during the NFC Champion
Carlos Gonzalez

Scoggins: Foles loses all comparisons to Brady, but has proven he can win

February 4, 2018

Tom Brady and Nick Foles sat side-by-side for an Opening Night interview to start Super Bowl week. In terms of experience and playoff pedigree, that was like pitting me against Ryan Gosling in a best-looking contest.  Read more

Malcolm Butler’s goal line interception in Super Bowl XLIX meant instant fame for the Patriots cornerback. It also revealed something about his coac
Kathy Willens • Associated Press

Souhan: Butler exemplifies Belichick's knack for using right player, right time

February 4, 2018

Malcolm Butler had just won a Super Bowl and revived a sleeping dynasty. His interception on the goal line had given the New England Patriots another title and prevented the Seattle Seahawks from winning a second straight.  Read more

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, hugs coach Bill Belichick after the AFC championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Foxbor
David J. Phillip, Associated Press
FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots quarter...

Reusse: Everything, and nothing, has changed in the past 17 seasons in New England

February 3, 2018

Roger Jeziorski and Marlene Krist were members of Browerville High School’s Class of 1962. They were married and the Jeziorskis raised their family on a farm in nearby Cushing Township.  Read more

US Bank Stadium, the site of Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4

Hartman: Without U.S. Bank Stadium, we'd have no Vikings or Super Bowl

February 4, 2018

A lot of people put their political careers on the line when they voted to finance U.S. Bank Stadium in 2012, none more so than Gov. Mark Dayton, who was at the forefront of the battle to get that legislation passed.

The governor, 71, won re-election in 2014 and has said recently that he plans to serve out his term until 2019, when he will end his long career in public office.  Read more

Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia turned his defense around after a terrible first five weeks.
Winslow Townson • Associated Press

Patriots' defense is the best at 'bend but don't break'

February 3, 2018

Cornerback Eric Rowe said you can see the change in the Patriots defense when it is in the red zone.

“Everyone tightens up. Everyone is alert,” Rowe said. “Awareness is heightened. … When we’re getting down there, you can tell in our body language that we need to tighten up now.”  Read more

The NBC broadcasting team in town, which includes, from left, Chairman Mark Lazarus, broadcasters Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya and Al Michaels an
ELIZABETH FLORES • liz.flores@startribune.com

NBC's 'Sunday Night Football crew has covered Super Bowls before, but none like this

February 3, 2018

At its heart, Sunday’s telecast of Super Bowl LII will look a lot like NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” The network will use the same announcers, the same producer and director, the same crew and many of the same camera angles.

But the Super Bowl is not an ordinary game, and NBC’s broadcast will mirror the grandiosity that surrounds the most watched TV event of the year. Like everything else associated with the game at U.S. Bank Stadium, the show required years of planning, a spare-no-expense vision and a crew of hundreds to carry it out. With more than 100 million people expected to tune in, their mission is to create a dazzling show, while keeping their focus squarely on the game itself.  Read more

Four Super Bowls and four losses led former Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall to this conclusion: “We were a great team that never managed to play

Even now, the regrets remain for Vikings ironman Jim Marshall

February 4, 2018

The Twin Cities newspapers were not quite as insane in their coverage of dramatic Vikings games in the 1970s as is the case four decades later. Still, there were ample numbers of articles in the Minneapolis Tribune and the afternoon Star when the Purple advanced to four Super Bowls in the eight Januaries from 1970 to ’77.  Read more

Kansas City Chiefs Coach Hank Stram is carried from the field, Jan. 11, 1970, in New Orleans, after his team defeated the Minnesota Vikings in Super B

How 'another game' became the Super Bowl of today

February 3, 2018

Bobby Bell vividly remembers standing on the Los Angeles Coliseum field that day in 1967, looking up and seeing all those empty seats, and asking himself, “Who in the hell is going to pay $12 for a ticket?”

Bell, the former Gophers great, is a Pro Football Hall of Famer. He is one of the best to ever play in the NFL. But, as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, who lost to the Green Bay Packers in the first Super Bowl, he did not appreciate the history of what he saw that day: the beginning, the very first steps, of a cultural phenomenon.  Read more

Mark Craig's five keys to the Super Bowl

February 3, 2018

Classic red-zone battle on tap for game

Super Bowl trivia

February 3, 2018

What’s the point?

The call: Key story lines, matchups for the Eagles

February 3, 2018

Two big story lines

The call: Key story lines, matchups for the Patriots

February 3, 2018

Two big story lines

Patriots vs. Eagles, Super Bowl LII: Who has edge at every position?

February 3, 2018

How close do we expect this second Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl to be? Try a 5-4 edge to the Eagles in the nine position matchup breakdowns below. However, the most important one — quarterback — is lopsided toward Tom Brady and the 4 ½-point favorite Patriots. On paper, Sunday’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium should be strength against strength as the New England offense and Philadelphia defense put forth the best talent on their respective sides of the football.  Read more