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Super Bowl: Carolina Hopes for First Franchise Win - 2004-01-30


The championship of professional American-style football, the Super Bowl, is set for Sunday in Houston, Texas. The match-up is between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers.

The New England Patriots are riding a 14-game winning streak and are the clear favorites in Super Bowl 38. They are led by star quarterback Tom Brady, who guided them to an upset win in the Super Bowl two years ago over the Saint Louis Rams.

Carolina's quarterback is Jake Delhomme, who was a career backup until he took over the Panthers' offense in the first game of this season. He's been good under pressure, helping his team to crucial victories in close games, including four of five decided in overtime.

Though Carolina is playing in its first Super Bowl in its nine-year franchise history, coach John Fox has confidence in his players.

"I've been impressed with the maturity of our team and the focus of our team all season. We're a young football team, yet we have a core group of veterans that I think have been on this stage before," he said. "Some have been more successful than others. But there have been good pipelines of information throughout the team to prepare them for this. So I've been impressed with our focus and our preparation for this game much like I have throughout the playoffs."

Even though his team is a seven-point or one touchdown favorite, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has respect for the Carolina Panthers.

"I think they're very well coached. They're sound. They have good schemes," said Bill Belichick. "They put a lot of pressure on you on offense, defense and on special teams (kick offs and kick returns; punting and punt returns). The Panthers make you work for everything. They give you a lot that challenges your team. They're physical. They're tough. They execute well. They give you a lot to worry about, but then they also do it well. And that's why they're here. They're a real good football team."

Including the playoffs, Carolina is 14-5, while New England is 16-2. But records will mean nothing when the two teams do battle here on Sunday to see which will be crowned champion of Super Bowl 38.