EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 19, 2014

'Amazing' season

Local Pats fans marvel at how team overcame adversities


Year is already a success

Like each of the local Pats’ fans interviewed last week, Fitzpatrick marvels over how a season filled with great adversity turned into a remarkable playoff run that could end with New England playing for another NFL title in two weeks.

“From my point of view, the year has already been a success. It’s going to be a close game. If the game were here, I’d be more confident. I really have my doubts as to whether they can beat Denver. They’re playing with house money and Denver has been expected to win since last year. But, you can’t bet against these kids because they keep coming back. They never quit,” he said.

After being down 24-0 to Denver back in November, Brady led the Pats to their greatest comeback in team history, winning 34-31 in overtime.

But going up against Manning — the prolific passer who had the greatest year any quarterback ever had — and the highest scoring team in NFL history in their home stadium will be the ultimate challenge for the Patriots.

“This AFC Championship game makes me afraid,” said Patty Cresta, 50, of Salem, N.H., who touts herself as “a crazed Pats fan” after more than two decades of following the team.

“But I’m going to watch this game knowing we’re going to the Super Bowl. I know we can do it because of the mental toughness of this team. From the beginning of this season, we’ve had some trials and tribulations. We had a lot of injuries and it wasn’t looking good. We’ve lost some key veteran players who were key to us and getting to the playoffs,” said Cresta, assistant branch manager at Bank of New England in downtown Haverhill.

“When those veterans went out on injury, I kept my faith in the team. The young players stepped up and were amazing. I feel these young rookies are hungry, rambunctious and they got the eye of tiger. I feel like they have the heart that we’ve been missing for a few years,” she said.

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