TBT: Patriots Win First Super Bowl in 2002
And there were a lot to follow, in case you didn’t know.
On February 3, 2002, a dynasty began, and it’s not over yet.
Under the lights of the New Orleans Superdome, the New England Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams to take home the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XXXVI. And believe it or not, the Rams were 14-point favorites.
Since then, both teams have evolved quite a bit: The Rams moved to Los Angeles, and the Patriots have won four more titles. On Sunday, of course, they’ll compete for a sixth. The Pats’ upset victory—the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl win—was described by The Boston Globe as “The Impossible Dream.” They certainly won’t be saying that if New England wins on Sunday. And former ESPN sportswriter Bill Simmons was so jubilant, he wrote a column titled, “Now I Can Die in Peace.” Fast forward to last year when the Patriots won the Super Bowl and fans could be forgiven for skipping the slushy parade. After all, there’s always next year.
The 2002 game was originally set for January 27, but after the September 11 attacks, the NFL season was postponed for one week, pushing back the Super Bowl date. With security levels heightened all across the country, the biggest event in football was no different. Homeland Security declared the Super Bowl a National Special Security Event for the first time.
St. Louis was the first to get on the scoreboard with a 50-yard field goal in the first quarter. But the Patriots took off in the second, with two touchdowns in the last 9 minutes of the half.
U2 then took the stage with a chilling halftime show dedicated to those who tragically lost their lives on 9/11. However, Bono and crew were not the intended performers—Janet Jackson was. Due to traveling concerns and U2’s plan to pay tribute to 9/11 victims, Jackson ceded the stage to the band. Of course, two years later, she would be tapped to perform an infamous Super Bowl halftime show with Justin Timberlake.
The Rams came roaring back in the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns to tie the score 17-17. That’s when Adam Vinatieri, who is now a kicker for the Indianapolis Colts, kicked a 48-yard field goal as the clock struck zero. It was heart-stopping. It was jaw-dropping. It was pandemonium.
We’re now days away from Super Bowl LII, and watching sports is a completely different experience. After a Gronk spike, you check Twitter for the gif of it. When a penalty is called, you immediately check your feed for fan reactions to about its validity.
That Vinatieri field goal would’ve been up on every social media platform in seconds if Twitter had existed in 2002.
But even though a lot about how we watch the Super Bowl has changed, one thing has certainly stayed the same: The Patriots pretty much play in it every year.