FOXBORO -- The situation looked bleak. The Pats had just lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers to fall to 9-5. Their offense had struggled in the game and only scored 10 points. Then the news dropped that Josh Gordon had been suspended for the rest of the season. Many thought the receiver core was too thin to make a Super Bowl run. The receivers, however, did not agree.
"I don't know who was saying that, but we believed in ourselves and the receiving core that we have," WR Chris Hogan said. "We don't really listen to any of that outside stuff. We know we have guys in the locker room that have been playing a long time. The great thing about this locker room is we know when to put in the work and when to have a good time. We are all enjoying working this week because only two teams get to work."
Hogan, who made a big one-handed catch in the AFC Championship Game, said the conditioning has allowed the Pats to play their best in the biggest games.
"It starts in April,' Hogan said. "All that conditioning is so you can compete in the fourth quarter . Coach Belichick really prepares us for these type of situations."
Hogan said the receivers have developed a strong bond.
"It's been awesome. We work really hard throughout the week. We enjoy playing with each other."
When Gordon was on the Patriots, Phillip Dorsett received few snaps. Gordon took his place in the lineup. Dorsett stayed patient and has played well in the playoffs including a touchdown catch at the end of the first half against Kansas City.
"He's a playmaker," Hogan said. "When we need to make big plays, Phillip is there to make them."
Of the receivers on the roster, only Julian Edelman is under contract for 2019. Hogan will be playing in his third Super Bowl. It is unlikely that this receiving core will be together again next year.
"Playing in the Super Bowl - a lot of players don't get a chance to do it," Hogan said. "You never know when you are going back so you have to enjoy it."