Super Bowl XXXVI. It’s probably the least favorite Super Bowl in the modern day era. Why you ask? Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots made their mark and Adam Vinatieri booted their way to their first Super Bowl victory… and one of the most loathed dynasties in sports history was born.
What I remember most about this entire season has little to do with the Super Bowl or the New England Patriots. What I remember most is going to sleep at the end of the Giants ad Broncos Monday Night Football game. I was excited to wake up the next morning and check my fantasy scores — this was before you had apps and internet at the palm of your hand mind you — because I was certain the Broncos defense had gotten me the points I needed to win.
That was September 10th, 2001. The next morning, fantasy scores and the NFL became irrelevant as our country was changed forever.
The NFL canceled the following week of play as we as a country tried to figure out what was normal again. The following weekend, the NFL resumed activities. The New York Jets would travel to New England in a game that featured two cities that were heavily involved in the September 11th attacks.
Of course what will be remembered most in that game was that the course of NFL history was also changed forever. The Jets’ Mo Lewis would drill Drew Bledsoe, knocking him out of the game and sent the Pats to an 0-2 record. A sixth round draft pick named Tom Brady took the helms.
The Pats would go 11-3 the rest of the way and square off against the Greatest Show on Turf in New Orleans in the NFL’s first Super Bowl in the month of February. No one gave the Patriots a chance against that high powered offense, one that seemed to make history every game they played.
I watched the game at Ross and Stigs place on the Upper East side. I played my boxes as I always did and sat down. I got 0 for the Pats and 7 for the Rams. Two solid numbers, so I was hoping the Rams but away the Pats 27-10.
Rams drew first blood and came out of the first quarter up 3-0, but then the Pats would attack. A Ty Law pick six started a run of 17 unanswered points. The Pats had the Rams pinned in the corner. It was amazing. This team of “nobodies” came together more as a unit than any other team I had ever watched.
But those Rams were the Greatest Show on Turf.
They would once again make history. Down 14 in the fourth quarter, they would make the largest fourth quarter comeback in NFL Super Bowl history as the slick running Kurt Warner snuck in the end zone before connecting with the always dangerous Ricky Proehl to tie the game.
What came next would become the standard of the NFL for the next four years.
Brady led one of his infamous two minute drives. Marching down the field, Brady hit J.R. Redmond — the first of a long line of running backs that would have been terrible on any other team like Kevin Faulk, Antowain Smith, Patrick Pass, Laurence Maroney and Dion Lewis — for three consecutive passes. A big pass to Patriots legendary jack-of-all trades Troy Brown got Vinatieri in position for a game winning field goal… just as it would be for all three of the Pats Super Bowl wins over the next four years.
What’s even creepier. Right before Vinatieri hit the game winner against Carolina two years later… Ricky Proehl tied the game. You laughed when I typed always dangerous earlier, didn’t you?
Anyway, the final score was 20-17. Remember the box game? Yours truly had 0 and 7, remember? Vinatieri won The Wayniac his first ever box and it came at the big money game ender. Vinatieri would win me the most money I ever pulled on a Super Bowl two years later, but that’s a story for another time.