50 Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments, No. 8: Adam Vinatieri finishes off Rams
As the NFL approaches its highly anticipated golden anniversary Super Bowl, Yahoo Sports takes a look back at some of the most memorable moments in the game's history.
In our rankings, the moments go beyond the great scores and plays. We also take a look at entertainment performances, scandals/controversies and other events associated with corresponding Super Bowls.
Here's a look at moment No. 8:
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the collective face of the New England Patriots' extended championship run the past two decades. However, the pair needed a powerful foot to kick start its winning ways and that belonged to Adam Vinatieri.
Well before Vinatieri worked his last-minute magic in Super Bowl XXXVI and two years later on the same stage, New England called on the kicker for a memorable boot following one of the league's most controversial plays.
When Brady lost the ball after a corner blitz by Charles Woodson with the Patriots trailing 13-10 with a little less than two minutes remaining against the Oakland Raiders in the 2001 divisional playoffs, the Patriots' championship aspirations appeared to have been extinguished.
"I thought the season was over, but the call got reversed," Vinatieri said of the now famous Tuck Rule call in Jerry Rice's 50 Years, 50 Moments: The Most Unforgettable Plays in Super Bowl History. "Now I am thinking I have to make the best kick of my entire life just to go into overtime.
The blizzard conditions in New England resulted in Vinatieri attempting a 45-yard field goal in four inches of snow into the wind. Nailed!
Next up was overtime, where Vinatieri delivered again, completing an improbable 16-13 victory for a trip to Pittsburgh for the AFC title game.
"Looking back that is the kick I am most proud of just because of the sheer difficulties and what it meant and what had to happen for it to be good," Vinatieri said in the book of the field goal that forced overtime.
More Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments:
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• NEXT (Jan. 28): No. 7
After a win against the Steelers, the Patriots found themselves in Super Bowl XXXVI against the heavily favorite Rams, who beat them in the regular season. And like the snow game against Oakland, Vinatieri saved his best for last.
St. Louis opened the scoring with a 50-yard field goal in the first quarter, but New England then reeled off 17 straight points for a 17-3 going into the final stanza. Finally, the Rams' explosive offense emerged with regular-season MVP Kurt Warner rushing for a touchdown and then throwing another, tying the score at 17 with 1:30 left.
As would be the case for the next decade and a half with the game on the line, Brady got the Patriots' offense down field in short order.
With no timeouts and starting at his own 17-yard line, Brady orchestrated a 53-yard drive, connecting on five passes, including 23- and 16-yarders respectively to Troy Brown and Jermaine Wiggins, to reach St. Louis' 30 with seven seconds remaining. Enter Vinatieri.
"The night before that game, I must have tossed and turned all night," Vinatieri said in America's Game on the 2001 Patriots. "I must have kicked that a thousand times in my sleep over and over again."
This time, it was for real. The 48-yarder would give New England its first Super Bowl title in three tries and deny the Rams their second title in three seasons. Nailed! The Patriots stunned the Rams 20-17.
"The snap and hold were good and when the ball left my foot, I felt really good," Vinatieri said in Rice's book of the first game-winning kick to end a Super Bowl. "Think of a golf shot when you hit a great shot off the tee. You don't even feel the ball. You hear the sound and you know you've just nailed it.
"That is how it felt kicking that field goal. When it left my foot, it felt good. When I looked up and saw it going down the middle, it is so hard to describe the feeling. We are world champions, something that lasts forever. The greatest feeling I had as a professional."
Vinatieri not only experienced that championship feeling three more times, but his next one ended in similarly dramatic fashion. After an errant kickoff by Carolina Panther John Kasay gave New England great field position with slightly more than a minute left, Brady again quickly got the offense down field to set up a 41-yarder for Vinatieri. Nailed, with four seconds remaining.