The last play at Foxboro Stadium is forever enshrined in the collective memory of Patriots fans – the heavy snow, a clean snap, a steady hold and one of Adam Vinatieri's many game-winning field goals. The kick that sailed through the uprights catapulted the Patriots to a 16-13 overtime win against the Raiders, sending the team to the AFC Championship game and eventually its first Super Bowl win.
What was once Foxboro Stadium is now Patriot Place, and despite all of the changes in the nearly 15 years since that final game, the spot where the kick took place is still on display and full of memories for the former Patriots who were part of the play. Former Patriots long snapper Lonie Paxton and punter/holder Ken Walter revisited the spot of the final play at Foxboro Stadium, which has been marked in the new Olympia Sports. The two stopped by for the grand opening on Sept. 16.
Between racks of clothes stands a plaque and photo commemorating the moment where an underdog team pivoted towards greatness. The monument was brought to the store in partnership with The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon.
As they signed autographs, Lonie and Ken reminisced about the overtime win and the rest of that emotionally charged 2001 season.
"It's pretty surreal," Lonie said. "It brings back a lot of memories."
Up until the day of the game, it was not supposed to snow, they remembered. Yet in New England fashion, the snow fell and it fell hard.
"I'm used to the snow, but it was coming down in flakes that were bigger than I've ever seen," Ken said. "It took forever for them to hit the ground, and it was amazing going out there. It never stopped. It was just a winter wonderland."
Lonie and Ken both dug in to clear spots on the field for the final kick, and despite the weather and the team's hopes of furthering to the AFC Championship game hanging in the balance, Lonie said he viewed it as any other snap.
"Honestly, I really prided myself on not thinking about it because the more you think about a situation the more you might overthink what you're supposed to do. We did it so many times. It was just so repetitious for us," Lonie said. "To me, it was just eight yards. Ken just needed the ball, and Adam just needed the spot and he was going to make the kick. The pressure, I think, was more about the celebration after and meeting at the middle of the field and high fiving and hugging rather than the 'what ifs.' The 'what ifs' can eat at you."
While Lonie felt the pressure of the celebration more than the kick itself, he executed an iconic moment of joy and triumph after the game. As the snow kept coming down, Lonie ran to the end zone, fell to the ground and made a snow angel.
He would recreate this in confetti a couple of weeks later at Super Bowl XXXVI.
From the start, the 2001 season was different, both said. In August, Quarterback Coach Dick Rehbein passed away suddenly. The attacks on September 11 changed the country a month later, and Joe Andruzzi waited for word that his brothers in the New York Fire Department were alive. Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe went down in Week 2, and Tom Brady, then an untested rookie, had to step in.
"That year itself was such an anomaly," Lonie said.
"There was nothing smooth about it, but the only thing that was smooth was the will to win and a bunch of guys that people really didn't know," Ken said. "We were underdogs the entire way through, and Bill always told us in our team meetings that nobody believes except for the guys in the room and he'd have us look at each other. That meant a lot to all of us. We were a close knit group."
Though the team shocked the football world, the three Super Bowl victories and legacy of winning that followed was no surprise to Ken, but the first championship stands out.
"It's not surprising with Mr. [Robert] Kraft. I know that this was a big one for him too, that first Super Bowl win. So to have something like this [display] is very special to us, and I know as well to him, his family and the whole organization. There are the things that built this team, the foundation, because they win with whoever steps out on the field, and that's the thing that allowed us to succeed," Ken said. "We were a bunch of no names that did our jobs, and we were plugged into a system that we all bought into."
That laid the groundwork for seasons to come, and even though it has been 15 seasons, Lonie said it is still special to come back home.
"It's really cool that we can still be a part of the family," he said. "It's been so long, and you come back and feel at home … I'm very appreciative. When you're in the moment, it's hard to be appreciative, but when you're on the outside looking in, it's very appreciated."