NEW ORLEANS (AP) The New England Patriots made this a Super Bowl to remember for all the right reasons.
Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard field goal as time expired, capping a thrilling final two minutes and giving the Patriots a 20-17 upset over the St. Louis Rams on a red, white and blue Sunday.
“We shocked the world,” New England safety Lawyer Milloy said.
The Patriots won on a day filled with patriotic themes inside the Superdome and high security outside. Fans were urged to show up five hours before kickoff to get through a perimeter that looked more like a military compound than a football stadium, with soldiers on the ground and sharpshooters on the roof.
The winning kick came after the Patriots had lost a 17-3 lead in the final 10 minutes. The game appeared headed for the first Super Bowl overtime after St. Louis tied it on a 26-yard pass from Kurt Warner to Ricky Proehl with 1:30 left.
But MVP Tom Brady, whose status as the starter was in doubt until midweek, drove the Patriots 53 yards with no timeouts to set up the deciding kick.
“No one gave us a chance to win this game,” said running back Antowain Smith, who gained 92 yards in 18 carries.
After bypassing individual pregame introductions in favor of running on to the field as a team, the Patriots wearing uniforms splashed with red, white and blue went out and won with contributions from up and down their unsung roster.
They did it with Vinatieri”s calm-as-can-be kicking, Brady”s late leadership and a defense that scored one touchdown, set up two other scores and shut down the most high-powered offense in the NFL.
Brady was just 16-for-27 for 145 yards, compared to 28-of-46 for Warner.
But Brady, a fourth-string rookie last year, was mistake-proof while Warner, a two-time league MVP, threw two interceptions and the Rams also lost a fumble that set up a score.
The key play in the final drive was a 23-yard pass from Brady to Troy Brown to the St. Louis 36.
Three plays later came the kick by Vinatieri, who had made two field goals in the snow to give New England a playoff win over Oakland.
But the game was won by the defense, which held the NFL”s best offense without a touchdown until less than 10 minutes was left in the game.
“They say it”s the best track team in the National Football League, but I never saw anybody win a 100-yard dash with someone standing in front of them,” said New England cornerback Ty Law, whose 47-yard interception return gave New England its first touchdown.