Ranking the Patriots’ Super Bowl wins by excitement level
4. Super Bowl XXXVI vs St. Louis Rams
Much as Super Bowl LII was a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX between the Patriots and the Eagles, Super Bowl LIII was a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI between the Patriots and the Rams. The biggest difference between these two series (other than the Patriots being 2-0 against the Rams and 1-1 against the Eagles in their Super Bowl battles) is that with the Rams, the first version of the Super Bowl matchup was more exciting than the second.
Super Bowl 36 is famous for a lot of reasons. It was the first time a Super Bowl participant elected to forgo individual player introductions before the game, instead choosing to come out of the locker room tunnel and be announced as a team. It was the first Super Bowl appearance for Bill Belichick as a head coach and the first Super Bowl appearance for Tom Brady as a quarterback.
Of course most significantly, it was the first Super Bowl victory for the New England Patriots as a franchise. Twice the team had advanced as far as the championship game, only to be defeated by the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX and then by the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. Super Bowl 36 essentially launched the Patriots dynasty as we know it today, serving as the springboard for both Belichick and Brady to begin their ascent to G.O.A.T. status at their respective positions.
For most of the first half of the game, the teams seemed to be trading soft blows, like two boxers trying to get a feel for their opponent in the ring. Then Pro Football Hall of Famer Ty Law jumped in front of Rams quarterback Kurt Warner’s throw and returned it 47 yards to the house for a pick-six…. and suddenly the game became electric.
Back and forth the two conference finalists went, blow-for-blow, with the 24-year-old, baby-faced Brady competently holding serve with the more established and prolific veteran passer Warner. When the Rams finally evened the score at 17 apiece in the fourth quarter, there was just 1:30 left on the clock, and it looked like the game would surely go to overtime.
Then Brady did what we’ve all come to expect from him so many times over the past two decades. Cool as a cucumber, methodical as a surgeon, the Patriots quarterback drove his team to set up a game-winning 48-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri.
It was an exhilarating finish to the Super Bowl, and would probably rank No. 3 on this list if it weren’t for the mini-shootout New England found themselves in just two years later.