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Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Patriots' top plays: Kick to cap Super upset

By Mike Reiss

Adam Vinatieri
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This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in New England Patriots history. Over a span of three days, we'll also feature the 1982 "Snowplow Game," in which the Patriots beat the Dolphins 3-0, and Adam Vinatieri's kick to tie the AFC divisional-round playoff "Tuck Rule" game against the Raiders during the 2001 postseason. Please vote for your choice as the Patriots' most memorable play.

Score: Patriots 20, Rams 17
Date: Feb. 3, 2002 Site: Louisiana Superdome

A last-second, 48-yard field goal to deliver the Patriots' first Super Bowl championship despite their standing as heavy underdogs? They don't come much more memorable than that, as Vinatieri's boot capped off a brilliant final drive on which the Patriots covered 53 yards on nine plays despite calls from the broadcast booth that they would be better off taking a knee and playing for overtime.

Those watching might have figured the jinx was on when the broadcast noted, immediately before the kick from the right hashmark, that Vinatieri was 24-of-24 on field goals indoors during his career.

But there wasn't much suspense once Vinatieri swung his right leg through the football, the high-arcing kick coming straight down the middle as Vinatieri began jumping up and down before it even went through the uprights. So in terms of difficulty, the kick wouldn't rate among Vinatieri's toughest, but it was a pressure moment and delivered arguably the greatest win in franchise history, setting off a wild celebration from the sideline to the owner's box to the six-state New England region.

Among the memorable things that came before it was the Patriots foregoing individual introductions and coming out as a team before the game, an unprecedented move. And cornerback Ty Law's 47-yard interception return for a touchdown, which produced the Patriots' first points, also draws "most memorable plays" consideration.

But it's tough to top the kick that delivered the franchise's first Super Bowl championship -- one of those sports moments frozen in New England time.