The Patriots won their first Super Bowl, thanks largely to a gutsy performance by a 25-year old Tom Brady.
Feb. 3, 2002: Heading into an emotional Super Bowl in the wake of 9/11, the Brady-led Patriots were 14-point underdogs to the St. Louis Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf. Kurt Warner was the regular season MVP, and Marshall Faulk was the Offensive Player of the Year. The odds were stacked.
The Rams got on the board first, kicking a first-quarter field goal, but the Patriots capitalized on three turnovers by the Rams and took a 17–3 lead in the third quarter. Momentum turned for good on the ensuing drive when Kurt Warner was sacked at the Patriots two-yard line and safety Tebucky Jones’s returned it 97 yards for the score, except … linebacker Willie McGinest was called for holding. The Rams eventually scored on that drive, and then they scored again. Game tied.
With 1:21 and no timeouts left, at their own 21-yard line, conventional wisdom (and broadcaster John Madden) suggested the Patriots take a knee and try to win it in overtime. Instead Tom Brady secured his place in Super Bowl lore, masterfully driving the Patriots downfield to set up Adam Vinatieri for the 48-yard Super Bowl winning field goal. Brady was named MVP, finishing 16–27 for 145 passing yards and a touchdown. A dynasty—and legend—were officially born.