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Driving rain a rallying call for Patriots fans - The Sun Chronicle : Patriots

Driving rain a rallying call for Patriots fans

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Posted: Sunday, December 29, 2013 11:45 pm

FOXBORO - The Red Sox may have "Sweet Caroline" for a theme song, but on Sunday evening, the New England Patriots adopted Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" as its sing-along crowd pleaser.

As the 1971 hit song blasted from the loudspeakers at Gillette Stadium, it was accompanied by a steady downpour that drenched poncho-adorned football fans who sang along enthusiastically during the team's game against the Buffalo Bills.

"Singin' in the Rain," played later in the game, was also well-received by the crowd - a crowd that thinned out considerably in the fourth quarter when the Patriots were up by 10 points in the team's last regular-season game.

The final score was 34-20, which secured a first-round bye for the Patriots in the AFC playoffs.

That, according to Patriots' fans and players, is huge.

"They'll have one extra week to not only watch and study film, but to rest up, too," said former Foxboro resident Brendan Greeley, 25, who lives in South Boston and works as an information technology and finance consultant.

"Even though the Patriots were in the playoffs regardless if they won or lost, a win was incredibly important," said Joe Sbrizza, 22, a machine operator from Rochester, N.H. "Now [Coach Bill] Belichick will have time to get his guys prepared and give some of the players a chance to come back from injuries."

Julie Donahue, 45, a jet engine company consultant from Glastonbury, Conn., agreed with Sbrizza, saying that "injuries have been a big problem for the Patriots this year" and more time to heal could only help.

"Having that extra time is crucial," said Patriots' cornerback Kyle Arrington after the game. "It will give us time to get revitalized for the playoffs."

"Yeah, I mean, there are no games bigger than the ones we have coming up, so this is really a week to get a jump on it and prepare for it," said quarterback Tom Brady. "It's good to advance to the second round of playoffs. Who knows who we're going to play, but we're going to have to play good and that's the important thing."

Like many other Patriots' fans, Greeley did not let the steady downpour put a damper on his pre-game festivities, which included tailgating with friends under a pop-up tent in a nearby parking lot, or the game itself.

"When you go to a Patriots' game, you embrace the entire tailgating and game experience regardless of the weather," he said. "It could be a lot worse out than this."

Donahue took refuge under a covered section of the concourse during halftime.

"It hasn't stopped raining. Not once," she said. "We're still having fun though!"

Donahue's goddaughter, Samantha Mohn, 17, who lives in Fort Worth, Texas, traveled to New England to watch her first live NFL game.

"I think it's cool that my first football game was this one," she said. "It could have been a lot worse. It wasn't that cold or anything."

Patriots' punter Ryan Allen agreed. "It could have been colder and it could have been windier," he said.

"It doesn't get much tougher than that as far as rain goes," said kicker Stephen Gostkowski. "I don't think I've ever been a part of something that sloppy."

He said that making adjustments based on the weather is par for the course.

"You go from practicing in 20-degree weather to playing in Miami," he said, adding that in weather conditions like Sunday, "I just have to shorten my steps up and slow down a little bit to make sure I don't over kick."

Gostkoswki's special teams teammate Danny Aiken, a long snapper, said he doesn't remember ever playing in a game where it rained so hard the entire time.

"You don't see it too often when the artificial field puddles up," Aiken said.

"Yeah, I haven't played in one like this," Brady said. "The water on the field at the end ... it was just puddles. I've never seen that on our field before."

When asked how much the weather conditions dictated going to the running game, Belichick said it was "tough out there."

"It was tough to throw the ball, tough to catch it. We saw a bunch of balls on the ground - more so than usual," he said. "That was definitely a factor (and) it got worse as the game went along."

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