By Matt Noonan
It was 18 years ago on this exact date when the New England Patriots dynasty began with a dramatic 20-17 win over the St. Louis Rams, who are now the Los Angeles Rams.
Adam Vinatieri secured the win with a 48-yard field as time expired, which ignited a celebration by both the players and coaches, as well as the organization’s fanbase that had watched their beloved Patriots lose to the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers in two previous ‘big games.’
New England, which was a heavy underdog to the Rams, secured a 14-3 lead at the break, thanks to a 47-yard pick-six by Ty Law and an eight-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to David Patten.
Vinatieri extended New England’s lead late in the third quarter with a 37-yard field goal before St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner guided the Rams on a pair of touchdown drives in the final session to tie the game at 17-17 with 1:30 remaining.
On the ensuing possession and game’s final drive, the Patriots drove 53-yards in 1:14 to set-up Vinatieri for his game-winning field.
Before Vinatieri helped the Patriots beat the Rams in Super Bowl 36, he booted a pair of field goals against the Oakland Raiders in the 2001 AFC Division Round, which took place at snowy Foxboro Stadium. Vinatieri’s first kick sent the game to overtime, while his final boot secured the Patriots a spot in the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
New England concluded the 2001 season with a 14-5 record – they won 11 regular-season games, including Brady’s first-ever start against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, September 30th, 2001.
Two years after the Patriots beat the Rams, they topped the Carolina Panthers in 2004 before beating the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005. New England would win three more Super Bowls years later in 2015, 2017, and 2019.