Super Bowl XXXVI: Patriots vs. Rams
When quarterback Drew Bledsoe suffered a severe injury in the second game of the 2001 season, the Patriots looked to be doomed because they were forced to play an unproven sophomore who was not even a full time starter in college: Tom Brady. At 1-3 after Week 4, the season still looked bleak for the Patriots, but Brady and the team rolled out 10 wins in their final 12 games, winning the AFC East and heading to the playoffs.
The Patriots defeated the Oakland Raiders in the now-famous (or infamous to Raiders fans) “Tuck Rule Game,” before Drew Bledsoe came back to lead the Patriots to an AFC Championship win on the road in Pittsburgh.
The St. Louis Rams had a similar season just two years before, when newly-signed franchise quarterback Trent Green suffered a torn ACL in the preseason, leaving the team in the hands of former grocery store employee, Kurt Warner. Warner went on to lead the Rams as they became the “Greatest Show on Turf,” winning the NFL MVP and Super Bowl XXXIV over the Titans.
Rams running back Marshall Faulk won the MVP the next season, with Warner winning again in 2001 for rare back-to-back-to-back MVPs by one team. The Rams rolled through Green Bay and won by five points over Philadelphia in the NFC playoffs in 2001, and headed into the Super Bowl as heavy favorites to beat the Patriots.
The Rams took a 3-0 lead after the first quarter of the game, but a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by Ty Law gave the Patriots a 7-3 lead. Brady threw a touchdown pass to David Patten to give New England a 14-3 lead heading into halftime. The Patriots extended their lead to 17-3 entering the fourth quarter, but Warner led a strong fourth-quarter comeback, running in a touchdown and later throwing one to Ricky Proehl with 1:30 left to tie the game at 17.
With the ball deep in their own territory and a little over a minute to play, Brady led an incredible 53-yard drive to get the Patriots in field goal range with seven seconds to play. Having already tied and won the Oakland game in the snow with two field goals, Adam Vinatieri had no problem knocking home a 48-yard field goal to give the Patriots their first Super Bowl victory.
Brady was named Super Bowl MVP, and the Patriots would go on to win two more Super Bowls over the next three seasons.