Super Bowl XXXVI was one of the most exciting Super Bowls of all time and also had one of the greatest endings. It had one of the biggest upsets of all time as the New England Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams even though they were 14-point underdogs.
While winning the Super Bowl meant a lot to the Patriots, their players, and their fans it meant even more to a country who was looking for some glimmer of hope.
Just five months before the game was played, terrorists hijacked four airplanes and crashed two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, completely destroying them and killing just under 3,000 people.
All of a sudden Americans felt vulnerable and were always worried when the next attack might happen. All sports were suspended for more than a week as people waited to hear the news of just what happened.
When football finally resumed the Patriots played their first game in New York against the Jets. Offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi came out of the tunnel carrying two American flags for his two brothers who were both part of the New York Fire Department. Everywhere across the country at every game a moment of silence was held to recognize all those who had lost their lives.
Fast forward to February 3, 2002. The Rams and the Patriots are preparing to play one another for the right to be called World Champions.
The Rams were "the greatest show on turf" led by QB Kurt Warner and wide receivers Torry Holt and Issac Bruce. Meanwhile the Patriots were led by a sixth-round draft pick who was only playing because Drew Bledsoe was injured in the second game of the year. The Patriots weren't given a chance by pretty much anybody as they were just 5-11 they year before and the Rams had won the Super Bowl just two years ago.
American spirit was alive all around the Louisiana Superdome as there was red, white, and blue everywhere. Before the game, the logo for the Super Bowl was changed from what was originally supposed to represent the culture of New Orleans to the U.S. states with an American flag as the background.
As the pregame introductions were being done the Rams came out like every other team had in previous years by having their offense introduced individually. Then the Patriots prepared to come out, and instead of coming out individually, they came out as a team changing the way every Super Bowl after that would be done. You just knew we were gonna see something special after this.
The first quarter was a relatively normal quarter as the Rams were the only team to put up any points as they hit a field goal to make it 3-0.
Then in the second quarter the first big play happened as Ty Law picked of Kurt Warner and returned it 47 yards to give the Patriots a 7-3 lead. The Rams would get the ball back and again turned it over as Ricky Proehl fumbled at the Patriots 40 which was recovered by Terrell Buckley. Brady would lead the Patriots down the field and hit David Patten for an eight-yard touchdown pass with just 31 seconds left giving the Patriots a 14-3 halftime lead.
The halftime show was hosted by U2 and one of the best in Super Bowl history. They played a couple songs and then came played "Where the Streets Have No Name." During the playing of this song two backdrops were revealed to have the names of all those who passed away on September 11. Then toward the end of the song lead singer Bono opened his jacked to reveal an American flag stitched on the inside.
The second half began and the third quarter was much like the first quarter as the only scoring came of an Adam Vinatieri field goal. The end of the third quarter saw the Rams drive down to the Patriots two-yard line just as the quarter ended. T
he first play in the fourth quarter was a QB sneak by Warner who fumbled and Tebucky Jones ran it all the way back but the play was called back because of defensive holding by Willie McGinest. Two plays later Warner ran it in to the cut the Patriots lead in half at 17-10.
The Rams forced the Patriots to back to back three and outs and then took the ball down the field and scored a touchdown after Kurt Warner hit Ricky Proehl for an 18-yard touchdown tieing the game at 17.
Most people figured the Patriots would kneel the ball and take the game into overtime since the Patriots had no timeouts left but Bill Belichick decided to go for it. With 1:30 to go Tom Brady led the Patriots down the field hitting J.R. Redmond three times to get the ball to the 41. He then hit Troy Brown for another 23 yards and finished it off with six yard strike to Jermaine Wiggins getting the Patriots the Rams 30. Brady spiked the ball with seven seconds left and out came Adam Vinatieri. Vinatieri drilled the 48-yard kick to give the Patriots their first ever Super Bowl title as time expired as red, white, and blue confetti exploded everywhere.
This was just what this country needed. The Patriots were 14-point underdogs and defied all the odds to defeat the Rams and win their first Super Bowl. The Patriots rose from the ashes as a team that was just 5-11 the year before and had lost their No. 1 quarterback to an injury just two games into the season. They gave hope to a country who was looking for even the smallest glimmer of it.
Bob Kraft owner of the Patriots said it best when he said as he was holding the Super Bowl trophy "We are all Patriots and tonight the Patriots are World Champions."
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