National Football League

New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29
Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas
February 1, 2004
Attendance: 71,525
Carolina Panthers (NFC)01001929
New England Patriots (AFC)01401832
Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady
Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes en route to his second Super Bowl MVP.
Adam Vinatieri kicked a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left in thefourth quarter to lift the New England Patriots over the Carolina Panthers,32-29, in Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium.

Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes, including one to Mike Vrabel late inthe fourth quarter, as New England won its second Super Bowl title in the lastthree years. Brady completed 32-of-48 passes for 354 yards and Vrabel had twoof the Patriots' four sacks in the win.

"There have been some heart attacks, but they've come out on top," saidPatriots coach Bill Belichick.

Deion Branch and David Givens each had a reception for a touchdown for thePatriots, who ended the season with a remarkable 15 straight wins. Branchfinished with 10 catches for 143 yards.

Jake Delhomme rebounded from a slow start to complete 16-of-33 passes for 323yards with three touchdowns for the Panthers, who reached their first SuperBowl since joining the league in 1995.

Muhsin Muhammad caught four passes for 140 yards with a touchdown and SteveSmith and Ricky Proehl each added a reception for a score in the loss.

After Carolina tied the game at 29-29 with just over a minute left in thefourth quarter, John Kasay booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds and NewEngland took over at its own 40 with 1:08 to go.

After an incompletion, Brady hit Troy Brown for a 13-yard gain. Anothercompletion to Brown for 20 yards was called back for offensive passinterference, but Brady completed three straight passes, including a 17-yardreception by Branch to the 23 with nine seconds on the clock. Vinatieri, whoalso won Super Bowl XXXVI with a last-second field goal, sent the winning kickdirectly through the center of the uprights for the win after failing on hisprevious two attempts in the game.

"I looked up and it was going right down the middle," Vinatieri said about thewinning kick.

The Panthers overcame a 21-10 deficit to take the lead, but Brady engineeredan 11-play, 68-yard drive to put New England back in front. Brady completed 6-of-8 passes for 57 yards on the drive and found Vrabel, usually a linebacker,alone for a one-yard score. The snap on the two-point conversion attempt wentdirectly to Kevin Faulk, who burst through the middle and into the end zone togive New England a 29-22 lead with 2:51 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Carolina responded with a seven-play, 80-yard drive to tie the contest withjust 1:08 remaining in the fourth quarter. Delhomme completed three passes,including one to Muhammad for 19 yards to the Patriots' 45. Proehl had areception for 31 yards to the 14 on the next play and on 3rd-and-8 from the12, Proehl beat cornerback Ty Law and hauled in a pass in the end zone to tiethe game.

The Patriots led by four points to begin the second half, and after ascoreless third quarter, opened a 21-10 lead on a touchdown run by AntowainSmith. The drive began at the Patriots' 29-yard line with 3:57 left in thethird quarter. Brady completed a pass to Branch for a 16-yard gain on thefirst play of the march. Smith then ran for 10 yards on two carries andanother completion to Branch moved the ball to the Carolina 32. A holdingpenalty moved the ball back to the 42, but Daniel Graham caught a short passand rumbled 16 yards to the Panthers' nine. A penalty against Carolina movedthe ball to the two and Smith ran behind the left side of the offensive lineand went into the end zone standing with 14:49 left in the fourth quarter.

Carolina responded on the ensuing possession with a six-play drive to pullwithin five. Starting at their own 19, Delhomme completed a pass to Muhammadfor 13 yards and hooked up with Smith for two completions to move the ball tothe New England 33. After an incompletion, DeShaun Foster got a block fromguard Kevin Donnalley and got loose for a run down the left sideline that cutthe Patriots' lead to 21-16 after Delhomme's two-point pass attempt fellincomplete.

New England threatened to increase its lead on the next possession, as Bradymarched the offense down field. On 3rd-and-9 from the Panthers' nine,cornerback Reggie Howard picked off a Brady pass intended for tight endChristian Fauria in the end zone.

The Panthers began at their own 10-yard line after Howard brought the ball outof the end zone. A penalty on the first play moved the ball to the 15 andafter an incompletion, Muhammad was all alone behind the Patriots' defense. Hecaught the ball at the New England 35 and beat a chasing Eugene Wilson to theend zone for an 85-yard touchdown reception that gave Carolina a 22-21 leadwith 6:53 to play in the fourth quarter. Delhomme's two-point attempt wasincomplete to a well-covered Kevin Dyson.

After a scoreless first quarter, the teams combined for 24 points in the finalminutes before halftime.

Brady threw touchdown passes to Branch and Givens and the Panthers answeredwith a Delhomme completion to Smith for a score and a field goal by Kasay.

After failing to score on two possessions that began in Carolina territory inthe opening quarter, the Patriots took advantage of a turnover to take thelead. The New England defense set up the score late in the second quarter whenVrabel hit Delhomme from behind and knocked the ball loose. Defensive tackleRichard Seymour recovered to give the Patriots possession at the Carolina 20-yard line. Then, on 3rd-and-7 from the 17, Brady dropped back to pass beforetaking off up the middle for a 12-yard gain. He found Branch alone in the backof the end zone on the next play to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead with 3:05left before halftime.

Carolina responded with a long drive on the ensuing possession. Rod Smart wasthrown down at the 11-yard line on the kickoff and the drive began at the fiveafter a penalty. On 3rd-and-5 from their own 10, Delhomme completed a pass toProehl for a 13-yard gain to keep the drive alive. Proehl caught another passfor 15 more yards on the next play to move the ball to the Patriots' 39. Aftera pair of incompletions, Smith beat cornerback Tyrone Poole down the leftsideline on 3rd-and-10 and Delhomme delivered a perfect looping pass to capthe 95-yard drive, the second longest in Super Bowl history, evening the scoreat 7-7 with 1:07 remaining in the second quarter.

The Patriots came right back and scored again on their next possession. Bradyneeded just six plays and 49 seconds to move 78 yards for the score, which wascapped with a five-yard toss to Givens in the end zone with just 18 secondsleft in the second quarter. Brady's 52-yard completion to Branch on the thirdplay of the march moved the ball to the Carolina 14. Another completion toGivens moved the ball to the five to set up the score.

Instead of kicking the ball deep, Vinatieri booted a low liner off the turfand the Panthers took over near midfield with 12 seconds left. Stephen Davisrushed for 21 yards on the first play of the drive and Kasay followed with a50-yard field goal as time expired to cut the Carolina deficit to 14-10 at thebreak.

The Patriots had an opportunity to open the scoring early in the secondquarter, but Vinatieri's 36-yard field goal attempt was blocked by ShaneBurton. The drive began at the New England 25 after the Panthers punted forthe fifth time in five possessions.

New England began two drives inside Panthers' territory in the openingquarter, but failed to take advantage as Vinatieri missed a short field goalattempt. Carolina later used a big defensive stop in its own territory toforce a punt.

Carolina was forced to punt after just three plays on each of its threepossessions to start the game. Todd Sauerbrun's third punt, from the Carolinaend zone, allowed the Patriots to begin a drive at the Panthers' 49-yard line.

Then, on 3rd-and-3 from the 31, Will Witherspoon dropped Brown for a 10- yardloss on a reverse, forcing yet another Carolina punt.

The New England defense also forced the Panthers to go three-and-out on thegame's opening possession and Brown returned the punt 28 yards to give thePatriots excellent field position. Beginning at the Panthers' 47-yard line,Brady quickly completed passes to Branch and Brown to move the ball to the 14,but the drive stalled and Vinatieri pushed a 31-yard field goal attempt wideright with 10:29 left in the opening quarter.

"I know I'm very, very proud of my football team," said Panthers coach JohnFox. "I hope everybody is very proud of us."

Game Notes

Brady, who has never lost a postseason game, picked up his second Super BowlMVP award. He was also the MVP of the 20-17 victory over St. Louis on February3, 2002...The 85-yard touchdown by Carolina is the longest play from scrimmagein Super Bowl history...The retractable roof of Reliant Stadium was closed asa precaution with rain in the forecast.