Feb 052002

The Patriots’ Super Bowl victory was more than just an upset. It was more than simply a great Super Bowl. And it was more than the first championship for the Patriots franchise. The win both raised and exiled the ghosts that had plagued New England sports for more than a decade.

As you may have heard in countless post-game reports, the Pats were the first New England team to win a championship in 16 years. However, this account does not do justice to the overall feeling of helplessness and depression that had filled the hearts of Boston-area sports fans during that period. Names such as Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner and Babe Ruth would quickly be brought to the table if you were to ask a New Englander about the reasons for such feelings.

This win changes everything.

In a perfect world, the winning trend would spread to the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins. But in reality, this victory could change an entire region’s attitude and outlook.

Hope is a powerful weapon.

You can imagine the reaction in New England. Dancing in the streets of Boston, riots on the campus of UMass and tears that mixed with the smoke of victory cigars in the homes of countless fans. You can bet a few “Yankees Suck” cheers were chanted in more than one celebration. As soon as the game concluded, my phone began to ring off the hook with calls from ecstatic friends and family.

Another interesting aspect of the game was the spread.

With the Rams as a 14-point favorite, people either won or lost a lot of money. What I don’t understand is how the bookies come up with the spread. Coming into the game, the Patriots had won eight straight games and were playing perhaps their best defense of the year. The Rams came into the game as an offensive juggernaut, but one that was prone to turnovers and was facing a defense that forced them. To me, it doesn’t make sense to put a team with that momentum, playing a team with those problems, as a 14-point underdog. But hey, I didn’t bet against the Pats.

The defining moment for the Patriots in the game was not Ty Law’s interception. It wasn’t Tom Brady’s touchdown pass, and it wasn’t Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal. The moment occurred before the game when the Patriots were introduced as a team rather than individuals – something they’ve done all season. To see them come out of the tunnel as one unit made me proud to be a Pats fan and excited for a game that many considered already over.

So it will finally be a post-season where New Englanders won’t have to say, “Wait ’till next year.” The Curse of the Bambino may not yet be laid to rest, but rest-assured many New Englanders slept a little easier than the night before. I guess those ghosts weren’t there to haunt them anymore. n

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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