This morning, after a dramatic last-second victory that will long be remembered in Super Bowl lore, the New England Patriots will be treated to a victory parade through downtown Boston. Beginning at Copley Square, the celebratory procession will eventually take them to a rally at City Hall Plaza hosted by Mayor Thomas Menino. Boston sports fans—who haven’t had a professional championship to celebrate since Larry Bird’s Celtics won the NBA title in 1986—will be out in force to cheer a team whose unity, determination and professionalism led their franchise to its first-ever Super Bowl win over the St. Louis Rams this past Sunday.
They will be cheering for Coach Bill Belichick, who designed a near-flawless game plan to counter the Rams’ vaunted offense. Belichick’s superb performance was a microcosm of this season, in which he transformed a last-place team into a champion.
They will be cheering for Tom Brady, a second-year quarterback from Michigan who was forced to fill the shoes of the team’s franchise player. No one could have predicted that he would lead the Pats to a string of nine straight victories and be the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player. Brady calmly and efficiently led the last drive of the game—a drive that will surely be remembered as a Super Bowl classic.
They will be cheering for Drew Bledsoe, the three-time Pro Bowler who suffered a major injury in the second game of the season but remained a class act throughout the entire year. When he was called off the bench two weeks ago in Pittsburgh, Bledsoe played as if he’d never been gone, securing the Patriots the AFC championship.
They will be cheering for placekicker Adam Vinatieri, who played well all season and whose last-second 48-yard field goal thwarted the Rams’ attempted comeback just as the game appeared to be going into overtime.
But most of all, they will be cheering for the team, because the 2001-2002 New England Patriots exemplified the cohesiveness, resourcefulness and fearlessness that a team is supposed to embody. Before the Super Bowl, they eschewed personal introductions and chose instead to emerge together as one group. While other teams might have collapsed when the Rams came back to score 14 fourth quarter points and tie the game, the Patriots hung tough and made a gutsy drive to set the stage for Vinatieri’s game-winning kick.
In a Super Bowl for the ages, the underrated, underestimated Pats played like they expected to win. Despite the point spread, the pundits and the predictions, the team never lost its faith in itself, and New England never lost faith in it. The destiny at work on Sunday was created by the work of every player on this team, and against all odds, the New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions.