The New England Patriots shocked the Saint Louis Rams, 20-17, to win a thrilling Super Bowl XXXVI (36) in New Orleans. The Patriots' defense proved to be more than a match for the high-powered Rams offense.
The Rams looked like anything but "the greatest show on turf" (St. Louis' nickname) Sunday night. The Patriots "bend-but-don't-break defense" allowed Rams quarterback Kurt Warner to complete eight of 11 first quarter passes, but held Saint Louis to a 50-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Patriot linebacker Brian Cox said the Patriots managed to control Rams star running back Marshall Faulk. "We wanted to go out and hit Marshall early," he said. "We wanted to hit him every play and after we accomplished that, we just tried to be physical with them."
New England's defense turned on the pressure in the second quarter. The crowd of almost 73,000 people erupted as Ty Law gave New England the 7-3 lead, intercepting a Warner pass and returning it 47 yards for a touchdown.
The Patriots then capitalized on a Ricky Proehl fumble. Quarterback Tom Brady hit David Patten for a touchdown and a 14-3 advantage. Another Warner interception led to a 37 yard Adam Vinatieri field goal and a 17-3 Pats lead.
But the Rams fought back in the fourth quarter. A two-yard touchdown scamper by Warner made it 17-10, and a touchdown catch by Ricky Proehl with a minute and a half left tied the game at 17. Super Bowl XXXVI Most Valuable Player Tom Brady shared the advice Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave him as he went out to try to lead New England to a last-minute victory. "He just said, 'Go win the game...just drop back and sling (throw) it!'"
Brady drove New England to the Saint Louis 31 yard line and, with time running out, Belichick called for a field goal. "This is what every player and every coach works a lifetime for, and it was a tremendous thrill," he said. "When Adam hit it, it was so true, there was never really a doubt about it."
Vinatieri's 48-yard field goal, as time expired gave New England the 20-17 win.