Super Bowl XXXVI

Top five moments from Super Bowl XXXVI (Rams versus Patriots)

This week 17 years ago we first saw a Super Bowl game for the ages. It was the “Greatest show on turf” against a sixth-round QB in Super Bowl XXXVI. It was also a very similar situation to what we will see this Sunday, but a bit of role reversal.

What you saw 17 years ago was a New England Patriots head coach and quarterback that were in their second season together. It was Brady’s first season in which he was the starter after a season-ending injury to QB Drew Bledsoe. It was also the start of a dynasty we will forever be talking about as one of the greatest dynasties in sports.

As we come back to the present, we look at what the Rams have in comparison. That is the same amount of years their head coach and quarterback have been together. Sean McVay is in his second year as the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. His QB Jared Goff is in his third. The Rams also have a tough, hard-hitting defense, which we saw from the Patriots during the earlier stages of success. Can they get revenge for their loss 17 years ago? Let’s take a look the top five moments from Super Bowl XXXVI between the Patriots and Rams.

Super Bowl XXXVI
Tom Brady with Vince Lombardi trophy” by Brian Allen/Voice of America is licensed under Public Domain

Top five moments from Super Bowl XXXVI

 

5. Terrell Buckley recovers Ricky Proehl’s fumble

It was hard for the Rams to get much going in the first half of this game. Their opening drive ended with a field goal. Then the Ty Law interception happened, which we’ll talk about shortly. On a drive that looked like the Rams were finally getting momentum, WR Ricky Proehl fumbles the ball over to Patriots. It would’ve been a first down catch on the other side of the 50, could’ve continued into a scoring drive. Instead, Terrell Buckley recovers the fumble and gave the Patriots a short field that would help set up the first of many Tom Brady Super Bowl touchdowns. Rickey Proehl is remembered mostly for his game-tying TD in this game, but this fumble by him was a huge game changer. This fumble isn’t something greatly remembered, but it sure did have an impact on the outcome.

 

4. David Patten’s 8-Yard TD

After Terrell Buckley returned that fumble by Ricky Proehl, the Patriots drove down the field right before halftime to give themselves a 14-3 lead. Tom Brady led the Patriots down to the eight yard line, where he then threw a TD strike to WR David Patten. The fifth greatest moment in this game led right into the fourth. The Patriots would carry the momentum from that TD to add more points in the third quarter and go up 17-3 on the Rams.

 

3. Ricky Proehl’s game-tying TD

Being down 17-3 at one point, the Rams were down, but they weren’t out. There was still plenty of time left to get back in this game. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they did so. Rams QB Kurt Warner was known for his success in fourth quarters. With the team down by two touchdowns, Warner did everything he could to bring his team back. First it was Kurt Warner getting in for a TD to put the score at 17-10. Next it was the TD pass to Proehl. This was the one that brought the Rams all the way back, where Proehl made up for his lost fumble earlier in game. Proehl caught the ball at about the 15 yard line, where he then weaved his way around two Patriots defenders and into the end zone for the tying score.

 

2. Ty Law’s pick six starts the scoring are Patriots

This was the first of two interceptions thrown by Kurt Warner, but this one really set the tone for how the game was going to go. It was a 3-0 score in the favor of the Rams. They were looking for the opportunity to add on more points. That was until Patriots DB Ty Law took matters into his own hands with the interception returned for a touchdown. That pick six put the Patriots up 7-3, which helped the Patriots gain their eventual 17-3 lead in third quarter.

 

1. Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning FG

This kick by Adam Vinatieri will go down as one of the best Super Bowl moments in history, especially as a part of Tom Brady’s legacy. When Warner found Proehl for the game-tying TD, he left too much time on the clock for Tom Brady and the Patriots. There was about a 1:30 left in the game. For Tom Brady, that’s about equivalent to all day. The Patriots’ offense drove down into field goal range with seven seconds left. Then it was time for the kick that started the Patriots dynasty. Adam Vinatieri kicked the ball throw the uprights, giving the Patriots a 20-17 Super Bowl XXXVI win.

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Take a look back at these Super Bowl XXXVI moments in this short recap video.

As you can see from the short list, there are several moments from Super Bowl XXXVI we can all talk about, as this was the first of five Super Bowls Brady and Belichick have won together. Could this Sunday be the start of a new dynasty with McVay and Goff? Or will we see the Patriots add their sixth Super Bowl title with Brady and Belichick?

In case you missed the top five Super Bowl moments in Rams and Patriots history, take a look back at those before the big game this Sunday!

The Canton Worthy: Defensive Backs

After looking at head coaches on Wednesday and then linemen on both sides of the ball yesterday, I wrap up the week (but not the series) looking at a group of defensive backs up for the NFL’s Hall of Fame. Three of these men played the bulk of their careers as free safeties, while the other two were corners. Interestingly, the last three all played together in 2009 for the Denver Broncos*, and four out of five of these players played in Denver at some point in their careers, while three out of five played for the Jets–but never together.

*That Broncos squad, Josh McDaniels’ first, went 8-8 while the defense ranked third against the pass.

For my comparisons throughout this series, I’ve been looking at the Hall of Fame list posted on pro-football-reference.com. According to the last, there is no distinction between safeties or cornerbacks. Instead, PFR refers to all of those players as “defensive backs.” So, instead of breaking these five players down by position like I did yesterday with guards and tackles, I’ll be comparing them to fellow defensive backs.

However, I will be comparing them to defensive backs of a certain era–from 1989 until 2013, the former because that’s the earliest any of these five began his career, and 2013 because that’s the last year that any of these guys played.

Veterans Day with the Baltimore Ravens” by Maryland National Guard is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Steve Atwater, Free Safety: Denver Broncos, 1989-1998 & New York Jets, 1999

Atwater, known for his bone-crushing hits over the middle, went 20th overall to the Broncos in the 1989 draft out of Arkansas. Over the next decade, he started at least 14 games every season. He picked off 24 passes, forced five fumbles, recovered eight fumbles and collected 1,125 total tackles. He made All-Pro in 1991 and 1992 while reaching eight Pro Bowls in a span of nine years. He was one of the team’s defensive leaders when Denver won back-to-back Super Bowls in the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

 

John Lynch, Strong Safety/Free Safety: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1993-2003 & Denver Broncos, 2004-2007

Over the years in Tampa Bay, John Lynch led a revolution that helped transform the Bucs from the Yuks into a Super Bowl winner. The Stanford product went in the third round of the 1993 draft to Tampa, where he’d patrol the center of the field for the following 11 seasons. In that time, he went to five Pro Bowls, made All-Pro twice, and won Super Bowl XXXVII. Lynch later left for Denver, where he made another four Pro Bowls before retiring. In the end, that’s nine Pro Bowls, two All-Pro selections, seven trips to the playoffs and one championship.

 

Ty Law, Cornerback: New England Patriots, 1995-2004; New  York Jets, 2005, 2008; Kansas City Chiefs, 2006-2007; Denver Broncos, 2009

Ty Law was another first round pick, going No. 23 to the Patriots out of Michigan in 1995. He was part of the team that lost Super Bowl XXXI to the Packers, but then he collected three Super Bowl rings at the start of the Brady-Belichick Dynasty. By the time he retired as a member of the Broncos, he’d made five Pro Bowls (four with the Patriots, one with the Jets) and had been named All-Pro twice. He finished his career with 53 interceptions, seven of which he returned for touchdowns, which is the 11th most all-time.

 

Champ Bailey, Cornerback: Washington Redskins, 1999-2003 & Denver Broncos, 2004-2013

Before getting dealt to the Broncos for running back Clinton Portis prior to the start of the 2004 season, Champ Bailey had already intercepted 18 passes and collected 312 total tackles while getting voted into four Pro Bowls as a five-year member of the Redskins. Over the next 10 seasons in Denver, he’d be named All-Pro three times while making another eight Pro Bowls. He led the league in interceptions with 10 in 2006 and finished his career with 52.

 

Ed Reed, Free Safety: Baltimore Ravens, 2002-2012; New York Jets, 2013; Houston Texans, 2013

The 24th overall pick out of Miami (Fla.) in the 2002 draft, Reed played 11 years for the Ravens before splitting his final season between the Jets and Texans. In his first decade-plus in Baltimore, Reed was named the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year, won one Super Bowl, made nine Pro Bowls and was elected All-Pro five times. Throughout his 12-year career, Reed intercepted 64 passes, which is seventh all-time. His 1,590 interception return yards is the most all-time.

 

The Breakdown

Which of the five of Atwater, Lynch, Law, Bailey and Reed gets into the Hall of Fame? Remember two things: 1) Only a maximum of five finalists can be inducted in a given year, and 2) I’ve already selected center Kevin Mawae and guard Alan Faneca. I have at most three remaining spots between these five and three offensive playmakers I’ve yet to discuss.

Based on those factors, I believe only one defensive back has a shot at making it into Canton this season. Right off the bat I’m going to eliminate three of them: Steve Atwater, John Lynch and Ty Law. Each of those three defensive backs previously had shots to make it, yet failed. This year, they face even tougher competition with first-time nominees Champ Bailey and Ed Reed.

And it’s at those two that I’m going to take a closer look.

There are 26 defensive backs in the Hall of Fame. Of those 26, five retired after 1999: the ageless Darrell Green, Rod Woodson, Deion “Primetime” Sanders, Aeneas Williams and Brian Dawkins.

As far as longevity, both Bailey and Reed stack up with those five. Bailey made more Pro Bowls than any of those players, while Reed made more than all but Woodson. Only Woodson and Sanders made more All-Pros than Reed, while Bailey only edges out Green in that category. Regarding interceptions, only Woodson’s 71 overshadow Reed’s 64. Meanwhile, Bailey’s 52 interceptions only beats Dawkins’ 37.

Here’s what I’m getting at: Bailey and Reed both compare very well to the five defensive back members of the Hall of Fame from around their era. Much like with the discussion I had yesterday about guards Alan Faneca and Steve Hutchinson, though, the two will be compared against each other as their careers overlapped from 2002-2013.

Starting with longevity, Bailey gets the edge as he started longer at his position. Bailey also has a 12-9 edge regarding Pro Bowls. But, in less time as a starter, Reed has more All-Pro selections, 5-3. Reed won a Defensive Player of the Year award while Bailey never did. Reed also collected 12 more interceptions than did Bailey (again, in fewer years), and Reed was part of a Super Bowl-winning squad whereas Bailey never reached that height.

For the time being, Ed Reed gets my vote for Canton. Perhaps, after the next article, I’ll re-visit Bailey.

But for now, I’ve used three of my maximum five slots: Ed Reed joins Kevin Mawae and Alan Faneca.