St. Louis Plays in Super Bowl XXXVI: February 3, 2002

St. Louis Rams
Barbara Moore

The Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, faced the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams, who had a high-powered offense in Super Bowl XXXVI on this date in 2002. The game was closely contested, and it became notable for its dramatic finish. The Patriots secured a 17-3 lead in the fourth quarter, but the Rams, led by quarterback Kurt Warner, managed to tie the game at 17-17 with less than two minutes remaining. In a memorable drive, Tom Brady orchestrated a game-winning field goal attempt. With seven seconds left on the clock, kicker Adam Vinatieri successfully made a 48-yard field goal, securing a 20-17 victory for the New England Patriots. This Super Bowl win marked the first championship for the Patriots franchise and the beginning of Tom Brady’s illustrious career. Tom Brady was named the Super Bowl MVP for his performance.

Super Bowl XXXVI was not particularly controversial in terms of gameplay or officiating, but a post-game controversy arose due to allegations of the New England Patriots’ improper filming of the St. Louis Rams’ walkthrough practice before the game. In 2008, a Boston Herald report suggested that a Patriots video assistant had filmed the Rams’ walkthrough practice prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. The walkthrough is a crucial pre-game event where teams finalize their game plan and strategies. The Patriots were accused of gaining an unfair advantage by potentially knowing the Rams’ plays in advance.

The controversy became known as “Spygate.” The NFL conducted an investigation, and while they found evidence of inappropriate videotaping by the Patriots during the 2007 season, they did not find conclusive evidence to support the claims related to Super Bowl XXXVI. Nonetheless, the Spygate controversy cast a shadow over the Patriots’ success, and it became a topic of discussion when evaluating the team’s achievements during that era. The controversy surrounding Spygate led to fines, loss of draft picks, and a tarnished reputation for the Patriots organization.