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Super Bowl XXXVI

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February 3, 2002, New Orleans, Louisiana

New England Patriots 20, Saint Louis Rams 17

Before the game

The Super Bowl was originally scheduled for the week prior to February 3, but the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack led to the NFL schedule being moved one week back.

Playoffs:

Oakland wide receiver Jerry Rice[?] was the hero of the night, catching 9 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. Running back Charlie Garner[?] ran 80 yards for the game-clinching touchdown with 1:27 remaining in the game.
Eagles QB Donovan McNabb[?] threw for 194 yards and a touchdown as Philadelphia dominated Tampa Bay from start to finish. Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson[?] was intercepted four times, one of which was returned 59 yards by Damon Moore[?] for a touchdown.
In another of the Dolphins' well-known late-season slides, the defending Super Bowl champions dominated the Dolphins in every statistic. Baltimore's Terry Allen[?] ran 109 yards and scored a touchdown. Miami's only score was an Olindo Mare[?] field goal 2 minutes into the game.
Green Bay exploded in the second half with Brett Favre throwing for 226 yards in the final 30 minutes. A late San Francisco comeback attempt was thwarted when a long Jeff Garcia pass was intercepted by Tyrone Williams[?] late in the fourth quarter, and Ahman Green[?] scored the clinching touchdown with 1:55 left.

The Bears surprised everyone by finishing atop the NFC Central in 2001 with a 13-3 record behind quarterback Jim Miller[?]. But when Miller was taken out of the game in the second quarter with a separated shoulder, Philadelphia blew the game open. Miller's replacement, Shane Matthews[?] threw for only 66 yards and was picked off twice. Donovan McNabb[?] threw for 262 yards and ran for a touchdown.
This game, played in a heavy snowfall, will be remembered for a controversial call near the end of the game, in which the referees initially ruled that New England quarterback Tom Brady had fumbled on a pass attempt, with Oakland protecting a three-point lead. Invoking the "tuck rule", where a ball is ruled an incomplete pass after the quarterback starts any forward throwing motion, the referee overturned the decision after reviewing the instant replay[?], calling the drop an incomplete pass rather than a fumble. The Patriots then tied the game on a 45-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal (a dramatic kick through heavy snowfall) and subsequently won the game in overtime.
The matchup between two highly rated quarterbacks was won by St. Louis's Kurt Warner[?], fresh from being named league MVP, but the real stars were the Rams' defence. Green Bay QB Brett Favre threw for 281 yards, but also a playoff record tying 6 interceptions. The visiting Packers generated most of their offense early in the game, but turnovers saw them trailing 24-10 at halftime. In the third quarter the Rams raised their game on both sides of the ball, scoring 14 unanswered points and putting the game out of sight.
Steelers' running back Jerome Bettis[?], sidelined for much of the regular season, was scheduled to make his return but backed out at the last minute. It didn't matter though: the Pittsburgh defense did all the work, causing four turnovers and three sacks. Baltimore's first first-down didn't come until there were 3 minutes left in the first half.

St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner[?] completed two-thirds of his passes for 212 yards, and Marshall Faulk[?] ran for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Down 17-13 at halftime, the Rams were too much for an Eagle defense who, until this game, hadn't allowed more than 21 points per game.
The Patriots' storybook season continued as Drew Bledsoe[?] came into the game in the second quarter in place of an injured Tom Brady[?] - who replaced Bledsoe himself early in the season when he suffered a sheared blood vessel. Bledsoe threw for a touchdown to David Patten[?] on his fifth play from scrimmage. A late Pittsburgh comeback was thwarted by two Kordell Stewart[?] interceptions in the last three minutes.

The game

Entering the game as 14-point underdogs, the Patriots dispensed with the traditional individual player introductions, choosing to enter the stadium as a team. The approach carried over into the game. The first Patriot score was a defensive touchdown, on an interception by Ty Law[?]. The Patriot defense held the explosive Rams offense to a single field goal during the first half. The Rams rebounded from a 17-3 deficit with two touchdowns, and with a mere two minutes remaining in regulation the game was tied, 17-17. Rather than running out the clock and playing for overtime, the Patriot offense launched one of its few successful scoring drives of the day, with quarterback Tom Brady[?], the game's MVP, moving the ball into range for a game-winning 48-yard field goal by placekicker Adam Vinatieri[?] as time expired.

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