When we speak about the New England Patriots in the modern context, it is hard to imagine any of their victories being a tremendous achievement against adversity, or a remarkable upset. While they have achieved great success, they have been the favorites in almost all of their successes. They took the hard route in some games, but they were always the one fancied before the game started.
But that does not apply to the game against the St. Louis Rams in 2002, when the Patriots were contesting Super Bowl XXXVI. This was the first Super Bowl for the combination of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. And it came off the back of Brady only being the Pats’ no.1 quarterback because of an injury. It was early in the season when Brady got the call, given the injury to his predecessor. He was going to have to lead the Patriots for the rest of the season, and boy did he lead them.
Not only did Brady lead the Patriots to an impressive 11-3 finish for the season, but he managed to get them through the playoffs and into the Super Bowl. And we cannot talk about that Super Bowl run without mentioning the infamous snow game, where the Patriots needed a late, late field goal from Adam Vinatieri to win the game against The Oakland Raiders in Foxborough.
When analysts look back at the 2001 Patriots, and their triumph in the 2002 Super Bowl, it is easy to see it as the start of that period of dominance. But we have to remember that none of that was in place when they were achieving this triumph. They were not favorites in any of their playoff games, and they were certainly not expected to get into the Super Bowl that season.
We all look at Tom Brady as a legend now. But at the time, he was a young quarterback who had been drafted in the sixth round. He was the 197th pick in the draft when he came into the NFL, and no one thought he would be the one who would start off this Patriots dynasty.
But when Brady got that call ahead of Blesdoe after the latter’s injury, he never looked back. He needed some help from his defense and kicker, but he led that Patriots team to heights that even he could not have anticipated. It was his first season as a starter in the league, and he finished it as a Super Bowl champion.
The Rams put up a great fight in that Super Bowl, and it needed another Vinatieri field goal to give the Patriots a 20-17 win. Brady was the MVP, and he had cemented his place as one of the top quarterbacks in the league. He would go on to become an absolute legend of the game. But during those weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, he was an up and coming quarterback who no one expected could put up one great performance after another to help his team to glory.