Adam Vinatieri kicked a 41-yard field goal with four seconds
remaining as the Patriots won their second Super Bowl in three seasons. While it took a Super-Bowl record 26 minutes and 55
seconds for the first points to be scored, the teams combined for 868 yards (481 by New England) and the game also featured
the highest scoring quarter (combined 37 points in the fourth).
Vinatieri missed a 31-yard field goal on the Patriots’ first possession, and had a 36-yard attempt
blocked by Shane Burton with 6:00 left in the second quarter. But three plays later, Mike Vrabel sacked Jake Delhomme and
forced him to fumble. Richard Seymour recovered at the Panthers’ 20, and a 12-yard scramble by Tom Brady on third-and-7
set up his 5-yard touchdown pass to Deion Branch with 3:05 left in the first half.
The Panthers responded with an 8-play, 95-yard drive capped by Delhomme’s 39-yard perfectly placed
touchdown pass to Steve Smith with 1:07 left in the half. Delhomme beat the blitz by lofting the pass deep down the left sideline.
Brady’s 52-yard pass to Branch with 37 seconds left in the half set up David Givens’ 5-yard
touchdown catch with 18 seconds left. New England squibbed the ensuing kickoff and Kris Mangum returned it 12 yards to the
Panthers’ 47. A 21-yard run by Stephen Davis set up John Kasay’s 50-yard field goal as the half expired for a
14-10 New England lead.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but Antowain Smith’s 2-yard touchdown run two plays
into the final quarter capped a 71-yard drive and gave the Patriots a 21-10 lead.
Undaunted, Carolina scored on its next two possessions.
First, Delhomme completed passes of 18 and 22 yards to Smith to set up DeShaun Foster’s 33-yard
touchdown run to cut the deficit to 21-16 with 12:39 to play. Carolina went for the 2-point conversion, but Delhomme’s
pass was incomplete.
New England marched to the Panthers’ 9 with the ensuing kickoff, but Reggie Howard intercepted
Brady’s third-and-goal pass in the end zone. Two plays later, Delhomme rolled left and fired a Super-Bowl record 85-yard
touchdown pass to Muhammad for a 22-21 lead with 6:53 left. Once again, the Panthers went for 2 points and Delhomme’s
pass was incomplete.
New England drove 68 yards on its next possession, with Givens catching a 25-yard pass and 18-yard
pass on third-and-9, to set up Brady’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Vrabel, who was lined up as a tight end. A direct snap
to Kevin Faulk resulted in a 2-point conversion for a 29-22 lead with 2:51 left.
Delhomme completed passes of 19 yards to Muhammad and 31 yards to Ricky Proehl before finding Proehl
from 12 yards with the tying touchdown with 1:08 remaining.
Kasay’s ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving New England the ball at their own 40. Five
plays later, faced with third-and-3 from the Panthers’ 40 with 14 seconds left, Brady fired a 17-yard pass to Branch
to set up Vinatieri’s Super Bowl-winning 41-yard field goal.
Brady, who was named the Super Bowl most valuable player for the second time in his career, was 32
of 48 for 354 yards and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception. Branch had 10 receptions for 143 yards. Delhomme was 16 of 33 for
323 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Muhammad had 4 catches for 140 yards.