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51 for LI: Super Bowl XXXVIII, Keeping Abreast of Pats’ Rise

[lead align=”default”]There are now 38 days remaining until this season’s Super Bowl. It wasn’t a nipply, er, nippy night at Super Bowl XXXVIII, at least in terms of temperature.[/lead]

The New England Patriots made the big game for the second time in three years. On the other sideline, their opposition were the Carolina Panthers, qualifying for the big game for the first time ever. Who won this contest soon took a backseat to the football-unrelated media frenzy thereafter.

Super Bowl XXXVIII: But First, The Game

New England opened the scoring in the second quarter via Tom Brady’s touchdown pass to Deion Branch. This came just minutes before the half, but in a wild turn of events, there were three more scores to come in the final 3:05. Jake Delhomme threw a touchdown pass to Steve Smith, Tom Brady threw another touchdown to David Givens, and John Kasay made a 50-yard field goal. All told, it was 14-10 Pats at halftime. The four first-half scoring drives were all late and all under three minutes long. Two were less than one minute.

Odd quarters in Super Bowl XXXVIII featured no scoring, but again, it was the Pats to get there first. With 14:49 in the fourth, Antowain Smith rumbled into the end zone to put New England up 21-10. Just minutes later, DeShaun Foster broke a 33-yard touchdown run to make it 21-16, but the two-point conversion failed.

Carolina took the lead late, thanks to Muhsin Muhammad’s thrilling 85-yard touchdown catch and run. At 22-21 Panthers, another two-point conversion failed.

The unflappable Brady then marched the Pats down the first for a go-ahead score. Mike Vrabel caught a short touchdown pass, and the Pats got the two thereafter to make it 29-22. Yet, Carolina wasn’t done. On the following sub-two minute drive, Jake Delhomme led the Panthers to a touchdown, caught by Ricky Proehl.

The game was won with four seconds remaining on a short New England drive. At 29-29, Adam Vinatieri kicked the game-winner to hand the Pats their second Super Bowl title.

Super Bowl XXXVIII: The “Wardrobe Malfunction”

Not too many people these days remember the frenzy at the end of each half of this game. Lots of people remember what Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson did that night.

The two performed as part of the all-star cast in the halftime show. As it ended, Justin Timberlake placed his hand on Janet’s right jug and pulled off a portion of it. This revealed what she was working with under that leathery top, and it was a censor’s worst nightmare come true.

To quote a famous episode of Seinfeld: “So what? It’s a nipple. A little round circular protuberance. What’s the big deal? See everybody’s got them.” However, to this day, this remains the most controversial Super Bowl halftime performance. It led to the NFL going very safe the following year with Paul McCartney, who did not expose anything private.

Super Bowl XXXVIII: Highlights

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