For many of the first 42 years of their existence, the Patriots generally rated somewhere between a laughingstock and a punch-line. But history and the perception of the franchise changed forever on this emotional night in New Orleans, when the Patriots stunned the mighty St. Louis Rams, 20-17. The winning points came when the Patriots methodically marched down the field on the final drive, with Vinatieri coolly splitting the uprights on the final play. Exclaimed Patriots radio broadcaster Gil Santos, "It's good! It's good! And the New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions!'' A football dynasty was born that night, and the new golden era of Boston sports had its first champion.
(Globe File Photo / Jim Davis)