February 3, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 68  

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Patriots win Super Bowl XXXVIII

HOUSTON (AP) — Humdrum?

Hardly. What was supposed to be a colossal bore turned into one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever with a thrilling back-and-forth final quarter that Adam Vinatieri finished off with his foot.

Tom Brady set up Vinatieri’s 41-yard field goal with four seconds left to give the New England Patriots their second NFL championship in three seasons with a 32-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

Not only did Vinatieri win this one Sunday night, he did the same thing two years ago, beating the St. Louis Rams on the final play of the game.

“Nobody makes all of them. But if you’ve got to have one kick with everything on the line, he’s the one you want kicking it,” Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick said. “It was an awesome kick. It was a great kick. That’s the game. That’s what Adam’s here for.”

Most of the first half did live up to the predictions that two defensive teams would make for a dull game. They were scoreless for nearly 27 minutes, the slowest start in Super Bowl history, and Vinatieri missed one field goal and another was blocked.

But that changed in the final three minutes of the first half and again in the fourth quarter, when the teams combined for 37 points, the most in any quarter of any Super Bowl.

The scoring never stopped.

The Patriots were ahead. The Panthers were ahead.

The Patriots were ahead, then the Panthers tied it.

And then came the most reliable foot in football.

“You know you might have a chance at the end of the game to win it,” Vinatieri said. “I looked up and it was going right down the middle.”

It wouldn’t have been possible without Brady. He finished 32-of-48 for 354 yards and three touchdowns. The 32 completions were a Super Bowl record.

“To win this the way we did is incredible, unbelievable. A great all-around game,” he said. “I don’t know how I do it.”
Brady was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player for the second time in three seasons, although he did throw a second-half interception that prevented New England from winning more easily.



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