In 2002 the St. Louis Rams played the New England Patriots for the Super Bowl. The Rams came in at 14-2 while the Patriots came in at 11-5. The Rams were 14 point favorites to win the game, but with the game tied at 17, and against John Madden’s advice, Tom Brady lead the Patriots down the field for Adam Vinetari to kick the game-winning field goal and win 20-17.
It was the second biggest upset in NFL history as the Rams were 14 point favorites, right behind Super Bowl three when the Baltimore Colts were 18 point favorites against Joe Namath and the New York Jets, and lost 16-7.
Three championships later and many legacies being made, the spy gate scandal came to the surface and it was found out that the New England Patriots had videotaped their opponents walk throughs before the game, one of those games being Super Bowl 36 against the Rams.
12 years later and not a single Super Bowl goes by, where Rams fans and former players don’t think about it. The Patriots were given some fines and had some draft picks taken away, but none of that could give the Rams their second Super Bowl.
Since spy gate the Rams are 70-121-1, have had one winning record, and have two playoff appearances. The Patriots on the other hand are 147-45, have had 12 winning seasons, made the playoffs 10 times, and have made 4 other Super Bowls, winning two.
Former players that were on the Rams team always get asked about spy gate during Super Bowl week, here’s what some have had to say over the years.
Torry Holt in 2012
You know, I didn’t give in to that when I was (in New England). I didn’t make a whole lot of it. It was normal for me to think, “I wonder if…As a matter of fact, let me go snoop around and see if I can pick up some clues or something.” (laughs) Naw, I was there to play with a winner. I saw how they work, the attention to details, and the focus every single day in that building was all geared towards winning. I saw how they worked to prepare or get ready to win ballgames, and I had a total respect for it. Did they do more? Hey, I don’t know. It’s just unfortunate it had to happen with us there in St. Louis. But I tried to separate that as much as possible, and just kinda focus on why I was there, and that was to get better and help them win ballgames.
I think the whole Spygate deal with the tapes will continue to linger because nobody really knows. And I think that now with the bounties and the New Orleans Saints, that’s going to linger over their Super Bowl run. But at the end of the day, those guys [the Patriots] played well, they played hard, they executed and did more than we could do that game to win.
Marshall Faulk in 2013
“Am I over the loss? Yeah, I’m over the loss. But I’ll never be over being cheated out of the Super Bowl. That’s a different story,” Faulk said, “I can understand losing a Super Bowl, that’s fine . . . But how things happened and what took place. Obviously, the commissioner gets to handle things how he wants to handle them but if they wanted us to shut up about what happened, show us the tapes. Don’t burn ‘em.”
“Any time that I was offset, I was always stationary,” Faulk told ComcastSportsnet. “And we had (created) motioning in the backfield at the same depth on the other side of the field. And they created a check for it. It’s just little things like that.
“It’s either the best coaching in the world when you come up with situations that you had never seen before. Or you’d seen it and knew what to do.”
Willie McGinest responding to Faulk in 2013
“If we had any extra information, then that game wouldn’t have been as dramatic as it was, coming down to a field goal,” McGinest told Comcast Sports Net in New England. “Trust me. It would have been a blowout.”
Kurt Warner in 2014
“We understand Spygate; it was there, but nobody really knows what it was. I think the unfortunate thing is nobody really has any answers. When you’re the team that lost that Super Bowl there’s always that question in your mind. There’s that inkling of was there something else going on? It’s unfortunate, because as much as you try to put it out of your mind, you know it was still there and we really never got the answers to those questions.”
“Nobody ever got to see the real evidence, so if there wasn’t anything there why didn’t we all get to see it? It’s over, it’s done with. I want to give credit to coach Belichick because he’s so good at what he does. They had a great game plan, they beat us up and officials don’t want to call penalties in the Super Bowl. They played us very well, and you can look at that both ways: maybe they knew something, or maybe these were great coaches that put together great game plans. We never really got closure on the situation.”
Coming from a Rams fan, having a loss in a Super Bowl in which the opponent may have had an advantage, definitely makes it hurt a little more, but either way adjustments were made, the Rams fought back, and Tom Brady still lead an incredible drive down the field.
The Rams still turned the ball over three times, Jeff Wilkins still missed a 52 yard field goal in the second quarter, and the officials still were some of the worst officials ever to step on the football field.
The biggest problem is that nobody except the league and the Patriots truly knows what happened and nobody may ever know what happened, which makes it difficult for fans and players to get over.
Spygate will go down as one of the biggest controversies in NFL history, and until we actually know what happened, the pain of losing that epic game on that February day will live on forever.