- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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In a piece now posted on ESPNBoston.com, Patriots owner Robert Kraft comments on the high bar that has been raised in New England, where the Patriots are competing in their seventh AFC Championship Game in 12 seasons.
"I think about what our fan base has come to expect, and it is very high. We're going to do our best to keep sustaining it, and I think we have a system in place where we can do pretty well," Kraft said.
"Having a unique combination of [Bill] Belichick and [Tom] Brady is pretty special. I think both of them are the best at what they do in their positions. And doing this in the age of the salary cap, our organization tries to run the economic part of our business with the same kind of special skills that our folks bring to playing and coaching."
Here are a few extra sound bites from Kraft:
On the AFC Championship Game at home: "If you’re privileged to win, you want to be with your hometown fans. I hope that being home gives us an edge. We’re very excited about it. Last week we were all Ravens fans for three hours when they were playing Denver. We were never happier. But our allegiances switch very quickly. ... It was probably a 70-80 percent chance before the games that we were going to Denver if we won. Thank goodness for what happened up in Denver. I think it’s great for our community, it’s great for our fans, it’s great for our team, and hopefully we can execute the way we all want and win this game at home."
On the Patriots' recent history versus the Ravens: "It seems like every year we play Baltimore, at least the last time, think of the championship game last year when Sterling Moore knocked the ball out of [Lee Evans’ hands] in the end zone. We would have lost the game and then [Billy] Cundiff missed the field goal. In Baltimore we played them and it came right down to the last play. So I really do believe the two best teams in the [conference] are playing and it’s going to be a hard-fought game, and please God, the Patriots come out on top."
On how much fans will play a factor on Sunday: "Big time. I’ll tell you, I noticed, it started happening in December and last weekend, our fans have really become a true weapon. Sometimes, I think part of it is they expected us to do things. Now I think they truly understand the role they play. We haven’t had to coax them. I listen to visiting teams when they leave here what an impact our fanbase has had on them. … I want to thank all of our fans, who have been unbelievable with the support. I get to speak to a lot of people throughout the country and they see the weather that we have up here, and probably except for Green Bay, I don’t think there is another team in a cold-weather climate that has the kind of fan support. We had the lowest number of no-shows last weekend at our game. We hope we beat that record this year."