Super Bowl XXXVI Program
Super Bowl XXXVI pitted the Patriots against the Rams.  It was the first NFL championship that
followed the September 11 attacks.  Security
was heightened and the game was pushed back a week into February.  The Rams had beaten the Patriots, 24–17, in
the regular season. It was the kind of challenge that Bill Belichick relishes.
The highly-talented explosive Rams were the favorite coming
into the game.  Rams’ QB, Kurt Warner,
had a completion percentage of 68.7% for the season and a 101.4 quarterback
rating.  The Patriots starting quarterback Tom Brady had a completion
percentage of 63.9% and a quarterback rating of 86.5.
The Rams scored on a 50-yard field goal to take an early
lead, 3–0, but missed a similar attempt early in the second quarter.  Midway through the quarter, Ty Law intercepted
a Kurt Warner pass and ran it back 47 yards for a Patriots’ touchdown.  Late in the half, Warner was driving again,
but after a 15-yard reception close to midfield, Rams’ receiver Ricky Proehl
fumbled on the tackle.  Terrell Buckley
grabbed the loose ball and ran it back to the Rams 40-yard line.  A couple of quick Brady strikes gave the
Patriots another touchdown and a 14–3 lead at the half. 
The Patriots struggled offensively in the second half and
were stuffed by the Rams’ defense for most of it while the Rams’ offense was on
the move. However, the Rams were making costly mistakes that the Patriots were
avoiding.  A third quarter interception
of a Kurt Warner pass helped the Patriots move into field goal range.  The ever-reliable Adam Vinatieri kicked a 37-yard
field goal that gave New England a 17–3 lead. 
The Rams followed with a long drive, but
Warner almost lost the ball at the Patriots’ 2-yard line on a fumble that was
overturned because of a holding call. 
Warner scored on a quarterback sneak and the New England lead stood at
17–10.
Late in the game, the Rams got the ball with less than two
minutes remaining.  Warner threw three
strikes including a 26-yard pass to Proehl for a score.  After the extra point, the score was tied at
17–17.
With just 1:30 remaining in the game, Brady came of age in
the NFL.  He moved the ball up the field
with three quick passes to running back J. R. Redmond.  Completions to Troy Brown and Jermaine
Wiggins gave Vinatieri a 48-yard field goal
attempt with 7 seconds remaining on the clock.  Vinatieri made the kick, the Patriots won the
game, 20–17, and Brady was named MVP. 

Bill Belichick’s Patriots had come of age.

Copyright 2014, Sporting Chance Press.
Material taken from Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships by Patrick McCaskey, grandson of Papa Bear George Halas.