New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams: A look back at the Super Bowl 2002 victory that launched Tom Brady's era of dominance

The New England Patriots beat the St Louis Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl
The New England Patriots beat the St Louis Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl

The New England Patriots will play the LA Rams in Super Bowl LIII exactly 17 years to the day on from the game that launched the era of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. We take a look back at that pivotal game in NFL history.

Super Bowl XXXVI, held in 2002, saw the Rams, then of St Louis, known as the Greatest Show on Turf due to their barnstorming and at times unstoppable offensive prowess.

A last-gasp Adam Vinatieri kick may have clinched the game 20-17, but that final drive by a then young, green Brady coupled with a defensive masterclass schemed by Belichick showed just a glimpse of what was to come.

The Pats, just starting out in what would turn out to be the dynasty to end all NFL dynasties, entered the game as the third-biggest underdogs in the game's history but little did the NFL world know that this was just the beginning...

Brady replaced the injured Drew Bledsoe in the second week of the campaign and the Patriots won 11 of their remaining 14 games to take the AFC East and came up against the Rams who had an NFL-best record of 14-2 for the season.

The New England Patriots beat the St Louis Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl
Tom Brady started his road to greatness as the New England Patriots beat the St Louis Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl

It was the Rams who took an early lead at the Louisiana Superdome through a Jeff Wilkins field goal, but a Ty Law interception was returned for a touchdown and Brady drove the Pats downfield with an eight-yard pass to David Patten, giving their side a surprise 14-3 half-time lead.

The Rams put two touchdowns on the board in the fourth quarter with Ricky Proehl's 26-yard reception from Kurt Warner with 1:30 left to play drawing the game level at 17-17.

But New England - who had no timeouts remaining - were not done.

Brady had three straight completions to move New England to the 41-yard line and followed this with a 23-yard pass to Troy Brown. Another six-yard pass moved the Pats to the 30-yard line, setting up a 48-yard field goal attempt.

Super Bowl XXXVI: Rams vs. Patriots highlights

Adam Vinatieri split the uprights as time expired to cap a nine-play 53-yard drive as the Patriots won their first Super Bowl.

The 2001 season would serve as a launchpad for Patriots success, having won the AFC Championship eight times and Super Bowl on four occasions since.

As for the Rams, they found themselves suffering a play-off drought between 2005 and 2017, by which time the side had relocated to Los Angeles.

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