It took a while to get untracked, but by the time the third quarter rolled around you knew you were watching a pretty good football game. The Patriots and the Panthers put on an entertaining display of football with the NFL's championship game finally living up to the level deserving of the word Championship. The game featured some pretty good offense with both teams able to move the ball up and down the field, answering the other teams last effort. Defenses that made crushing tackles and key special plays at just the right time.
The first quarter was rather forgettable, the Panthers seemingly left their game in the dressing room after having to stand on the sidelines for half an hour before the start of the game. The Patriots for their part struggled through the first as well, with Field Goal kicker Adam Vinatieri missing two gimmes from close range in the first. His first kick went wide of the post, the second blocked at the line by a rushing Panther. Watching that start one would think that the Patriots were going to have some serious problems in this game.
But Tom Brady got them fired up and by the end of the fourth quarter Brady had passed for 354 yards, three touchdowns and a Super Bowl record of 32 completions. For his efforts Brady was named the Super Bowl MVP. Not to be outdone, relative unknown Panther QB Jake Delhomme passed his team to a near win. Delhomme threw some picture perfect tosses down the field finding holes in a previously solid Patriot secondary. He tossed for 323 yards and three touchdowns of his own. The rushing game was not prominent in this affair, the Panthers held to 92 yards on the ground, the Pats to 137.
The game ended in exciting style, as Vinatieri ended up with an opportunity to redeem himself in the last ten seconds of the game. Brady moved the Pats down the field into field goal position, the ball then was turned over to Vinatieri. The Panthers called a time out to make him think about his kick, but this time he got the job done. The 41 yard kick crossed over the crossbar at 14:56 of the fourth quarter. The kickoff to the Panthers went deep into their end, the remaining four seconds were used up and the Pats were 32-29 Super Bowl winners, the second Super Bowl win in three years for New England.
The stats don't quite do justice to the final half of the game, as watching it unfold beats reading about it. It's being billed as one of the Best Super Bowls, which might be a bit much, it was entertaining and had a hell of an ending, but best ever category might be out of reach. Regardless for Brady and the Patriots it was a great game, for the Panthers it was a frustrating end to a great ride. For the football fan, a Super Bowl that wasn't a boring and tedious affair to watch, almost enough to make you an NFL fan. Then again the Grey Cup normally brings us this kind of excitement on a regular basis, so keep that last weekend in November circled for constant excitement.