You start enjoying [playing] more because you’re still able to compete at a high level, make an impact and play the game you love for a little bit longer, Dempsey said during Thursday afternoon’s pre-MLS Cup final press conference. So, yeah, in that aspect, you do appreciate it a little bit more. But I’ve kind of been someone who’s always never really taken much for granted. I’ve always been racing against time, feeling like I kind of started a little bit later than some of my peers. But I’ve been happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish, and there’s more work to be done.

Wow, that was a heck of a game, wasn’t it? And the good guys won, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. Honestly, I don’t know what to say. It as an unbelievable game.

David Steele: Odd stat quirk for this game: The host Rams are 4-4 in their building. The losses are to Washington in Week 2, to Seattle in Week 5, a showdown with the Eagles in Week 14 when Nick Foles had to finish the game, and last week’s finale against the 49ers, when LA rested several starters. Discount most or all of them for these purposes, considering the circumstances? It’s unlikely there will be a problem of a home-field disadvantage with a large and rabid crowd expected.

More conventional stats pit the Rams with the highest-scoring offense in the NFL, against a Falcons defense that has carried them down the stretch as Ryan and the offense has been hit-and-miss. Over the last six weeks the Falcons have given up 23 points or fewer in each game; that included two games against the Saints and single ones against the Vikings and Panthers, all potent offenses.

Pink’s national anthem will be the first time the artist has been on the Super Bowl stage, but she has enjoyed an illustrious career as a singer, songwriter, and actress leading up to this point.

Saban likes to say, “You can either suffer the pain of discipline or the pain of disappointment,” and Fitzpatrick parrots the phrase even off the field. When the Tide won that championship game his freshman year, he called Hansen to apologize for his poor performance. He once looked so distraught on the sideline that Harris asked him what was wrong. “I missed an assignment,” he said. “Dude,” Harris said, “We’re up by 40.”patriots_038_c4275d49b20e8e2c-180x180