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53 Days Until Super Bowl LIII: Brady & Vinatieri Beat Heavily-Favored Rams

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53 Days Until Super Bowl LIII: Brady & Vinatieri Beat Heavily-Favored Rams

Days Until Super Bowl LIII From December 12: 53

On Feb. 3, 2002, in Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, the New England Patriots were whopping 14-point underdogs to the “Greatest Show on Turf’ St. Louis Rams of Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt & Co. Led by a still relatively unknown second-year quarterback by the name of Tom Brady, the Patriots jumped out to a 17-3 lead late in the third quarter on a field goal by Adam Vinatieri (like Brady, the only player still active from that game but now with the Colts).

The Rams would pull to 17-10 on a Warner 2-yard TD run with 9:31 left and would tie the game on a Warner 26-yard pass to Ricky Proehl and ensuing Jeff Wilkins extra point with 1:30 to go. The first Super Bowl overtime looked inevitable. No way Bill Belichick would trust his young quarterback to risk a turnover in a two-minute drill.

However, Belichick, despite no timeouts remaining and 1:21 on the clock, went for the win in regulation even though Brady took over at his own 17. A legend would be born. Brady led the Patriots 53 yards in eight plays, with Troy Brown’s 23-yard catch the longest play of the drive. New England never even faced a third down. After a Brady incompletion to stop the clock with seven seconds left, on came Vinatieri. His 48-yard field goal as time expired was good, marking the first Super Bowl won on the game’s final play (but not the last for Brady).

Brady was named MVP despite pedestrian numbers of 145 yards passing with a TD on 16 of 27. The Rams outgained the Patriots 427-267, but the Patriots forced three turnovers, which resulted in 17 points, while not giving the ball away once.

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