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Patriots Considered Underdogs in NFL Championship Game - 2002-02-02

The St. Louis Rams are two touchdown favorites to beat the New England Patriots Sunday in the National Football League's Championship Game, Super Bowl 36. As VOA's Steve Schy reports from New Orleans Louisiana, the Patriots don't mind being underdogs.

If the New England Patriots get a feeling of dejŕ vu as they prepare to play Super Bowl 36 in New Orleans, it is because they have been here before. Twice before. The Chicago Bears crushed them 46-10 in 1986, and they lost 35-21 to the Green Bay Packers in 1998.

The 2002 Patriots bring a tough defense with the reputation of bending but not breaking. But they will certainly be stretched hard by a high-powered Saint Louis offense that led the league by gaining more than 418 yards per game and scoring 503 points this season. The Rams offense is called "the Greatest Show on Turf" and is keyed by Quarterback Kurt Warner and running back Marshall Faulk.

The Patriots offense will be led by second-year quarterback Tom Brady, who was knocked out of New England's AFC title game with an ankle injury. But former starter Drew Bledsoe came off the bench to lead New England to victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was a win that shocked the experts, but linebacker Bryan Cox says the Patriots don't worry about who is favored to win.

"You can't allow people to tell you what you are. We were not supposed to be here anyway," he says. "According to people we were supposed to be 3-13. We were the underdogs last week. We are underdogs this week. I mean, that does not matter. The bottom line is, whoever plays best on Sunday evening will be Super Bowl champs. And I'll take that opportunity any day of the week because I got a 50-50 [percent] chance."

New England fans believe the Patriots are the team of destiny this year. Sunday, we'll find out if they are right.