New England Patriots defeat Oakland Raiders, 30-20

The New England Patriots claim they are not out to make history, just first downs.

They maintain they focus more on getting their clutches on opposing quarterbacks than on another Lombardi Trophy.

They even say reaching a goal no other National Football League team has achieved -- a third consecutive Super Bowl championship -- is secondary to reaching the goal line.

Whether they admit it or not, the lofty, albeit unspoken, aspirations are going to make the first d...

The stadium darkened and the spotlights were placed squarely on Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who stood tall in a blue suit, with a microphone in hand for the much-awaited unveiling of the team's third championship banner. The crowd was ready.

''It is now with great pride," said Kraft, ''that I present the third Super Bowl championship banner."

Insert noise, lots of noise, here. The stadium went crazy, clapping, cheering, screaming.

The 2004 Patriots championship b...

They remind you of Bill Murray in ''Groundhog Day." Last night, the Patriots unveiled yet another championship banner, owner Robert Kraft congratulated the fans decked out in yet another one of his trademark two-tone shirts, and his football team went out and won yet another game in its stadium.

You've seen it all before, but you don't mind. It has become our favorite bedtime story, how Kraft transformed the Patsies, the unofficial league doormat, to the PATRIOTS!, the ...

Brand new season, same old story.

For much of last evening, the Oakland Raiders played the two-time defending Super Bowl champions to nearly a standstill, emphasis on the word nearly. For a long while, well into the third quarter, in fact, they thought they were in the game. A lot of their predecessors have made the same mistake.

The Raiders were matching the Patriots hit for hit and yard for yard. They trailed by a field goal for quite some time, but every time they...