Bledsoe to the rescue as Brady goes down

PITTSBURGH (AP) Picking a starting quarterback is not supposed to be this hard.

Not when you”re headed to the Super Bowl, and especially not when your team is on the hook for $900,000 to one guy and $103 million to the other.

But after New England put the finishing touches on yesterday”s 24-17 upset of the Steelers, a full-blown quarterback controversy was staring Patriots coach Bill Belichick in the face for the second time this season, no less.

Former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady, the bargain-basement passer who stepped in when veteran Drew Bledsoe was injured after the second game of the regular season, gave way to Bledsoe after rolling his ankle just before halftime.

For the first time since a vicious hit by the Jets” Mo Lewis four months ago sheared a blood vessel in his chest, Bledsoe stepped onto a field with something on the line. To no one”s surprise, he was masterful.

“You don”t give a guy $100 million if you don”t think he can be a championship quarterback,” Pittsburgh safety Lee Flowers said. “Nobody on our sideline was celebrating when Brady went out.”

Brady was still waiting for his chance to wrap his hands around the AFC Championship trophy when someone asked him how the ankle felt.

Rams return to big show again

ST. LOUIS (AP) The St. Louis Rams can be held down for just so long before Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce take over.

When they did in the second half of the NFC championship game, the Rams earned their second trip to the Super Bowl in three years.

Their 29-24 victory yesterday over the Philadelphia Eagles sent the Rams to New Orleans to meet the surprising New England Patriots. Two years ago, St. Louis beat Tennessee for its first Super Bowl title.

The trip south didn”t look likely early in the game, as the Eagles” stingy defense kept the Rams off-balance. But in the second half, Warner, the league”s MVP Faulk, a three-time Offensive Player of the Year and Bruce, Warner”s favorite receiver, were too much.

Faulk set a career playoff high with 159 yards rushing his 84 at halftime was a personal mark and Bruce had eight receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Warner finished 22-of-33 passing for 212 yards and one touchdown.

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