Super Bowl XXXIX
Jacksonville, Fla. · Feb. 6, 2005
New England Patriots - 24
Philadelphia Eagles - 21
Both of the Patriots' first two championships were won on Adam Vinatieri field goals in the closing seconds. Would the third be less tense? Only a little.
The Patriots were coming off another 14-2 season. It was not the best in the AFC — that was the 15-1 Steelers.
But when Tom Brady shook off a case of the flu and a 103-degree temperature to clobber the Steelers 41-27 in the AFC title game, the Pats were made seven-point favorites to win Super Bowl XXXIX.
The NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles had put together a run of strong seasons and were out to win their first championship since 1960 — the year the humble Boston Patriots came into existence.
Once again, the New England defense stepped up, sacking Eagles QB Donovan McNabb four times and picking him off thrice.
The Patriots offense got off to a slow start. Tom Brady has never put points on the board in the first quarter of any of his Super Bowl wins to date. And when poised to score in the second, Brady fumbled on the Philadelphia four yard line.
The Patriots and Eagles traded touchdowns in the second and third quarters, with the Pats once again putting linebacker Mike Vrabel in at tight end to catch a TD pass on the first drive of the third. Hey, it worked last year, why not break that play out again?
In the final quarter, New England scored ten unanswered points on a Corey Dillon run and a Vinatieri field goal. The Eagles cut the deficit with a late drive, as time grew short.
Philly got the ball back with 0:46 left in the game, but their rushed drive ended with Rodney Harrison's second interception of the night.
As they had done twice before, the Patriots held on for a three-point victory.
Tom Brady did not win the MVP this time around. That honor went to wide receiver Deion Branch, who did not score but had a record-setting 11 catches.
More importantly, the Patriots had won three out of the last four Super Bowls, an extraordinary feat matching the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s.
Call it a dynasty if you wish — Bill Belichick wouldn't — but the New England Patriots had established themselves as the dominant team of the early 21st century.
We New England fans were getting pretty spoiled. This was a Patriots team in its prime. Surely there would be more celebrations to come, right?