INDIANAPOLIS — Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner strolled through the halls of the Giants' team hotel Wednesday, just two days before the 10-year anniversary of the Patriots' victory against Warner's Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Naturally, that's the direction the conversation happened to take. Warner was asked two questions about one of the greatest upsets in sports history, and he handled them both gracefully.
First, were the Rams caught off guard by the Patriots' overly physical game plan?
"No doubt, no doubt," Warner said. "The Patriots, I give them credit. I think they went into that game and said, 'We're going to beat these guys up. We're going to hold them. We're going to scratch them. We're going to claw them. We're going to do everything we can until the officials force us not to.' And I think the one thing we all know is the officials do not want to dictate the Super Bowl. They don't want to throw a bunch of flags in the Super Bowl and change the complexion of the game, and that's what they did.
"And we knew that if you were going to stop us, that's what you had to do. You had to knock our timing off. They did a tremendous job of doing that, and it wasn't until later in the game where we actually got a few calls, and they had to loosen up a little bit and we started having success. There's no question what they did in their game plan was key, especially early in that game to be able to get us out of rhythm and make the plays they needed to in that game to win."
If Super Bowl XXXVI were played under the present-day rules, would the Patriots have been able to get away with that style of play?
"Now? No," Warner said. "With the rules now, I say no, but again, it would have had to come down to the officials having to make the calls. But even what they did then, I don't know if it was quote-unquote legal from the standpoint of the rulebook. But they were pushing the envelope, which, again, I give them credit because you knew if you were going to beat us, that's what you had to do. You had to push the envelope, and you had to say, 'Hey, we're going to beat them up until somebody tells us it's illegal and throws a flag. And if they don't, keep doing it.' But it's stuff that goes on now, too. So it really just comes down to that.
"But yeah, I think it would have been more difficult because there's more emphasis on that part of things. Now, I look at plays, and I go, 'Really? That's pass interference?' It still surprises me. A guy just gets banged or a little hand on him here, but that's the nature of where the game has come. So I think it would have been much more difficult in this day and age to have played that way, or to play that way as long as they did. But like I said, I give them credit because it was the right plan against us, and it worked in their favor."