The Patriots have played in three of the nine Super Bowls contested here in the Crescent City, including the two most recent, a trend that will end Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. That has not been an easy thing for owner Robert Kraft to swallow.

Neither has the fact it's been eight years since his team last hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, leaving it 3-3 in Super Bowls during his ownership and 3-4 in his lifetime. For someone as competitive and driven to win as Kraft, defeat is not acceptable.

But fortunately for his team and its fans, neither is panic.

Earlier this month, the Chicago Bears fired head coach Lovie Smith when he went 10-6 and missed the playoffs because of an erroneous call by a scab official. He was only two years from having led the Bears to the NFC Championship Game, which they lost to eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay. It was the second time he'd taken the Bears to the conference championship game in nine seasons, having won it in 2006 to reach Super Bowl XLI.

As the firing of Smith showed, patience is not always a virtue in the NFL. But while Kraft cannot assure anyone what his team will do next season, he can assure them of one thing:

"We're not going to lose our mind, I promise you that," he told the Herald yesterday in an exclusive interview at the Windsor Court Hotel.

"We don't like losing. We're going to do all we can to keep putting ourselves in the best position to win, but we always look long term."

In other words, passion for winning will not lead to reflexive reaction or panic thinking.