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.

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

New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis (33) spins away from Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith (50) during the first half of the AFC c
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 10 regular-season games.

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
Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long reaches for San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola) ORG XMIT: OTKCS253

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
Randy Johnson — 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
Tom Wallace
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) celebrates a touchdown with Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Aziz Shittu (61), during the NFC Championship Game.

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.

Brady has started 36 career postseason games. Foles has made 42 starts total, regular season and postseason combined.  Read more

New England Patriots strong safety Malcolm Butler (21) intercepts a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette (83) during the
Malcolm Butler’s goal line interception in Super Bowl XLIX meant instant fame for the Patriots cornerback. It also revealed something about his coach, as will his likely release in free agency.

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.

Butler had effectively rewritten football history. Now, in a locker room inside University of Phoenix Stadium, Butler was learning the price of instant fame.  Read more

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, hugs coach Bill Belichick after last year's AFC championship game against the Jaguars.
Associated Press
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, hugs coach Bill Belichick after the AFC championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Foxborough

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.

Galynn Johnson was a cheerleader for Roger's football games and the homecoming queen in 1961. She was among the graduates in 1962, became a flight attendant, moved to California, and met and married insurance salesman Tom Brady.  Read more

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

Matt Patricia
Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia turned his defense around after a terrible first five weeks.

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 sports broadcasting team, from left, Mark Lazarus, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya, Al Michaels, and Drew Esocoff, met with a room filled wi
The NBC broadcasting team in town, which includes, from left, Chairman Mark Lazarus, broadcasters Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya and Al Michaels and director Drew Esocoff, lingered Tuesday at Mall of America. Part of their job on Sunday is to tell the story of the NFL to fans who haven’t followed it since the last Super Bowl.

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

Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall at his home Tuesday January 9, 2018 in St. Louis Park, MN. ] JERRY HOLT ï jerry.holt@startrib
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 our best in the Super Bowl.’’

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.

As you might either have witnessed or heard mentioned by your Minnesota ancestors, the outcomes were not favorable to Bud Grant's Purple warriors:  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
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 Bowl IV. Stram has been with Kansas City since the league started in 1960. (AP Photo) ORG XMIT: NUX31

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

Keep an even closer eye on the red zone than normal. The Patriots were 29th in yards allowed per game (366.0) this season but fifth in points allowed (18.5). That's because coordinator Matt Patricia's side of the ball also was fourth in red-zone defense, allowing TDs only 43.8 percent of the time. The Patriots also were second in points allowed per red-zone trip (3.94). But the Pats' postseason opponents have scored four touchdowns in four tries. Next up: Philly's strong line, big backs and an offense that ranked first in red-zone touchdown percentage (65.5).

It is all about the kickers, stupid

Fair or not, Tom Brady's Super Bowl legacy would look a lot different without kickers Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski. Vinatieri was 3-0 with winning field goals of 48 and 41 yards. The latter came after he missed his first two attempts in the Super Bowl XXXVIII victory over Carolina. Gostkowski is 2-2 with his only miss being a PAT last year against the Falcons. Eagles rookie Jake Elliott has kicked in two playoff games, 22 fewer than Gostkowski, who has missed only three of 35 field goal attempts in the postseason.  Read more

Gameday guide: All about Super Bowl LII

February 3, 2018
ALL ABOUT SUNDAY'S GAME

Super Bowl LII: New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles.

At stake: NFL championship for the Vince Lombardi Trophy  Read more

Super Bowl trivia

February 3, 2018
What's the point?

The Dolphins kicked a field goal in the second quarter — and that was it. They lost 24-3 to the Cowboys in Super Bowl VI, the fewest points scored by a team in the Super Bowl. Holding steady in second place? That would be the Vikings, who recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for their only score in a 16-6 loss to the Steelers and their Steel Curtain defense in Super Bowl IX.

Biggest blowout

For all the hype, Super Bowls can occasionally turn into blowouts, like Super Bowl XXIV when the 49ers stomped the Broncos by 45, 55-10.  Read more

The call: Key story lines, matchups for the Eagles

February 3, 2018

Two big story lines

Eagles are a machine on third down  Read more

The call: Key story lines, matchups for the Patriots

February 3, 2018

Two big story lines

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady chase history  Read more

Philadelphia Eagles’ Jay Ajayi (36) during an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) ORG XMIT: MIN1801181834590078

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.

QuarterbacksTom Brady vs. Nick Foles

There's simply no contest at quarterback between perhaps the greatest of all time in Tom Brady, a five-time Super Bowl champion, and Nick Foles, who started the year as Carson Wentz's backup. The Eagles quarterback is coming off his best start in place of Wentz, who was having an MVP-caliber season until he injured his left knee Dec. 10. Foles completed 26 of 33 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns while destroying a vaunted Vikings defense in the NFC title game. Most important for Philadelphia: Foles did not turn the ball over in two playoff wins. But against Brady? There is no question who gets the edge. Edge: Patriots  Read more

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 1974, file photo, Miami Dolphins' Larry Csonka drives between Minnesota Vikings' Jeff Siemon (50) and Paul Krause for one of h
Larry Csonka was a one-man wrecking crew, rushing for 145 yards and two scores in Miami’s 24-7 victory.

Revisting the Vikings' four Super Bowl losses

February 3, 2018
Super Bowl IV

Kansas City 23, Vikings 7

Jan. 11, 1970 • New Orleans  Read more