You remember where you were, don’t you?
The date was Feb. 3, 2002 — exactly 15 years ago Friday — and the New England Patriots faced a monumental challenge in Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams.
Long before they made division titles routine and conference championships an almost annual event, the Patriots were heavy underdogs — two-touchdown underdogs, to be exact — against Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and the “Greatest Show On Turf.”
But New England had a well-prepared head coach named Bill Belichick and a feisty young quarterback named Tom Brady, and it held its own against the mighty Rams at the Superdome in New Orleans. After coming out of the tunnel as a team, the Patriots used a team effort to jump out to a halftime lead, scoring on an interception return by cornerback Ty Law and a perfect pass from Brady to wide receiver David Patten.
St. Louis came storming back, though, and the game came down to one final play: An Adam Vinatieri field goal try from 48 yards out.
Every Patriots fan knows what happened next.
The Patriots’ shocking 20-17 win marked the first Super Bowl title in franchise history. It also helped kick-start a dynasty, as New England won two more Super Bowls in the next three years and is set to appear in its NFL-record ninth Super Bowl on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
Brady and Belichick — the only player and coach left from that 2001 Patriots squad — have helped make winning the new normal in Foxboro over the last decade and a half. But that magical night in New Orleans always will be remembered as the date that started it all.