FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — It may have been his last game in New England, and Matt Patricia wasn’t ready for it to end.
The Patriots defensive coordinator went back onto the field long after the AFC championship was over and the team had advanced to the Super Bowl for the sixth time in his tenure.
There, he tossed around a football with his son before flopping onto his back on the confetti that had fallen during the team’s celebration.
“(It was) just fun to have him out there running around and just seeing the excitement that he had to be out on the field,” Patricia said this week as he tried to maintain his focus on the Super Bowl and not his expected next step: as head coach of the Detroit Lions. “That’s always just kind of a special little moment for myself and him and my wife.”
Most identifiable by his bushy beard, backward-facing ball cap and cargo shorts or cutoff sweatpants no matter what the weather, Patricia will be on the Patriots sideline on Feb. 4, when they face the Philadelphia Eagles in an attempt to win their sixth NFL championship.
Then he will reportedly be hired as the Lions head coach.
Patricia has declined to comment on the Detroit job other than to confirm that he “went through the process that the NFL allows us to go through during the bye week.”
The Lions confirmed that they interviewed Patricia and reportedly informed the unsuccessful candidates, but they cannot make it official until after the Patriots are done playing.
“We’re just trying to get the win,” defensive lineman Trey Flowers said on Friday. “That’s all it’s about here.”
But for Patricia, that’s not all it’s about.
Players say he takes a special interest in them, talking to them not just as players but also asking about their families.
“It’s not just to coach you up,” linebacker Elandon Roberts said. “That’s a must for him. That shows what kind of man he is outside of the building. He takes pride in us as players, but he also takes pride in us as people.”
Taking a rarely followed path to the NFL, Patricia graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with four varsity letters and an Aeronautical Engineering degree.
He bounced around a few colleges in the Northeast before landing on Bill Belichick’s staff with the then-defending Super Bowl champions.
Moving up through the team’s coaching ranks, he became the Patriots defensive coordinator in 2012.
Before most every game, Patricia walks up to every player on the sideline and shakes his hand.
“It just lets us know he has our back,” safety Duron Harmon said. “He has our back; we’ve got his back. It’s nothing more than just a relationship that he’s built with everybody throughout the defense.
“And when you’ve got that from your coach, knowing that he’s going to go down for you and you’re going to go down for him, it makes you want to go out there and lay it down for him.”
Brady returns to full practice, Gronkowski not ready yet
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady returned to full practice nine days before the Super Bowl, but tight end Rob Gronkowski is still recovering from a concussion.
In the injury report issued on Friday, the team said neither Gronkowski nor defensive lineman Deatrich Wise would play if the game were this Sunday. With the extra week off before the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles, however, there is still time.
Brady required stitches in his right hand and thumb after an injury in practice last week. After missing parts of practice leading up to the AFC championship, he started in the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and led New England to a 24-20 victory.
Defensive lineman Malcom Brown (foot) also missed practice on Friday for the second straight day. Offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle and running back Mike Gillislee missed part of practice for the third day in a row.
Museum changes name of Patriots Gallery to Eagles Gallery
A Philadelphia museum dedicated to America’s revolutionary patriots is temporarily renaming its biggest gallery in honor of the city’s Super Bowl-bound football team.
The Museum of the American Revolution on Thursday rechristened its Patriots Gallery as the Eagles Gallery. The new name will stay through Super Bowl Sunday when the Eagles face the New England Patriots.
Museum President Michael Quinn says the Super Bowl is a fitting analogy for Philadelphia because the city was the birthplace of the revolt that pitted underdog colonists against the vaunted British army in the American Revolution.
Now, 242 years later, Quinn says, “Philadelphia is again the underdog.”
The Super Bowl is Feb. 4.