FOXBORO (CBS) – The New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl, a feeling they are very familiar with.
“It is an unbelievable feeling. It’s hard to describe, but when you play this game this is what you play for,” said nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who in two weeks will be playing in his third Super Bowl. “Everybody starts at the bottom every year and to get to this moment right here and to win the AFC Championship and go through what we went through with Mrs. Kraft and Mr. Kraft and go through the injuries and everything just playing a big part of us getting here. It is just unbelievable. It’s great.”
The Patriots are heading to their fifth Super Bowl since 2001 thanks to a 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game.
“It’s incredible,” said quarterback Tom Brady. “You watch this game; I was a kid growing up, I was a 49er fan so I got to watch a lot of Super Bowls. You pinch yourself to get this opportunity. I’m privileged to be part of an incredible organization [and] to play with a great group of teammates. It’s really a privilege to play quarterback on this team.”
“I’ve had it before and this one is better,” guard Logan Mankins said of how it feels to be going to the Super Bowl for the second time in his career. “It is hard to explain, you’re just relieved and happy. I’m really happy we get to work again the next two weeks and that is the best part.”
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said tackle Matt Light. “We have had a heck of a season with everybody stepping up and I’m really proud of these young guys on this team. They took everything to heart and they battled through a lot of adversity. We won this one for a reason.”
But for veteran offensive lineman Brian Waters, in his first season with New England, this will be his first Super Bowl trip in 12 NFL seasons.
“I’m overjoyed. This is an unbelievable deal. This is probably the most excited I have been in a long time, since the birth of my children probably,” said Waters. “God knows this has been unbelievable and I have been truly blessed. I appreciate my teammates and these guys welcomed me here and just gave me an opportunity to do something special.”
This will also be the first Super Bowl trip for the younger players on the Patriots, including defensive captain Jerod Mayo, who was drafted in 2008 after the Patriots last trip to the title game.
“It is such a great feeling. We finally got something done and hopefully we get something done one more time,” he said after the game.
“It’s unbelievable, really,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski. “My second year in the league, playing with a great team, you got to enjoy the moment right now. It’s crazy. It doesn’t even feel right. It’s just wild.”
“Playing with the veterans here – watching them growing up and watching them going to the Super Bowl. Now to be part of it, it’s an unreal moment,” added Gronkowski. “You can’t take it for granted, you got to go in and work hard now. But it’s just wild.”
“We’re hungry and very passionate about what we do and we get it,” said Wilfork. “That is the good thing about this team. This team never gives up. I don’t care what the score may look, this team never gives up and that is a championship team.”
As for who they play, the winner of the Giants-49ers NFC Championship, it doesn’t really matter to the Patriots.
“I don’t care who we play, I really don’t,” said Brady.