New Orleans -- No more doubts. No disrespect. The New England Patriots are Champions of the World.
In one of the most exciting Super Bowl finishes ever, Adam Vinatieri booted home a 48-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to give his team of no-name warriors a 20-17 Super Bowl win, putting the final touches on the most amazing season in New England sports history.
The winning drive came as the seconds ticked off and no time outs left. It looked like all the momentum had shifted the Rams way when they came from 14 points behind and tied the game at 17 in the fourth quarter. But Tom Brady, that cool, collected quarterback who seems to have been born for this moment (he was named the game's MVP) made play after play until his team found themselves at the Ram 31 with :07 on the clock. Just as cooly, Vinatieri made history.
New England could have made things almost impossible for St. Louis if, in the fourth quarter Law could have managed to come up with an interception over his shoulder in the end zone on a pass intended for Isaac Bruce. When Warner fumbled on a fourth and goal scramble from the 3 and Tebucky Jones picked it up to go 97 yards for a touchdown, it looked like the Patriots had made it impossible for the Rams. But the play was called back due to a blatant Willie McGinest hold on Faulk.
With that second breath, Warner made the Patriots pay on a 1-yard run to pull his team within 7 at 17-10.
Although the Patriots managed to keep the Rams off the scoreboard on their next possession, they failed to even get a first down on their next two. Had they been able to, they might have won the game going away.
All Warner and the Rams needed was that opening and they took advantage.
Starting from their own 45, it took the Rams offense only three plays to get it in the end zone and tie the game, a 26-yard pass to Proehl who eluded Tebucky Jones on his way in.
Defense was on display in the first half as the Patriots, despite giving up chunks of yards, were trailing by a lone field goal when Ty Law stepped in front of a Warner pass. The Rams were operating from their own 39 on first down. Warner dropped back to pass with Mike Vrabel in pursuit. Warner got the pass off but only as Vrabel's arm came crashing down across his facemask. Luckily for the Patriots it went unnoticed by the refs. Equally unlucky for the Rams, Law played the ball perfectly and went down the left sideline untouched for 45 yards and the score. The Patriots led 7-3.
It only got better as the defense came through big at the end of the half. Warner had connected with Ricky Proehl for a 15-yard pick-up but as the speedy fourth receiver sped over the middle, Antwan Harris laid a knock on him jarring the ball loose. Terrell Buckley scooped it up and took it to the Rams 40 where the Patriots went on offense.
Brady went to work in his two-minute and hit paydirt. A 16-yard pass to Troy Brown was followed by an 8-yarder to Jermaine Wiggins. Kevin Faulk then ran for 8 yards. On first and goal from the 8, Charlie Weis went back to the Pittsburgh playbook and sent David Patten to the right corner of the end zone where Brady found him. Patten managed to stay inbounds with one foot and a hand and the Patriots had their biggest lead to that point in Super Bowl history, 14-3.
Three points were added on during the latter half of the third quarter. Otis Smith picked off Warner again just as it looked like Marshall Faulk was taking control of the game on the ground. The interception put New England on St. Louis' 33-yard line. Brown caught an 11-yard pass. Kevin Faulk was dropped for a 4-yard loss in a play that looked like an option pass. Then, Faulk's number was called again, this time for a direct snap run on third and 14. He gained 7 yards to set up Adam Vinatieri for a 37-yard field goal and a 17-3 lead.
The Rams struck first on a 48-yard drive that lasted 5:05 in the first quarter. The Rams started on their own 20 when the Patriots were forced to punt on their first possession. It was a Jeff Wilkins 50-yard field goal that made the score 3-0.
On the day Brady was 16 of 27 for 145 yards and a touchdown. Antowain Smith ran for 92 yards on 18 carries. Troy Brown had 6 catches for 89 yards.
For the Rams, Warner was 28 of 44 for 365 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.
Much more will be coming soon on Patriots.com so stay tuned.
We are the Champions of the World.
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