Pats dip into past to fire up crowd

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Remember the story of how Bill Belichick had the walls painted at Gillette Stadium prior to the 2010 season, with all the old pictures taken down?

Part of it was that the walls truly needed to be painted. And there was also the part in which Belichick wanted players to stop looking to the past and forge their own identity.

That still holds true today, although it was notable from here that the past was re-introduced Saturday night.

As part of the "game presentation" at Gillette Stadium, highlights of past Patriots greats such as Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Ty Law and Willie McGinest were shown on the videoboard during breaks in the action. Each time, the crowd of 68,756 roared, the images sparking memories of some of the franchise's greatest moments.

Saturday night was easily the best home crowd of the season and the energy could be felt as early as two hours before kickoff. Players fed off the atmosphere.

"Any time the crowd is into it like that, hopefully we give them reasons to cheer and I thought we did that," quarterback Tom Brady said. "They were in it the whole game, all the way up until the fourth quarter and they stayed. It's a Saturday night so probably most people were out anyway. It's great to have that crowd behind you."