- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2002

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The one thing that slowed the St. Louis Rams' offense this season was turnovers. The New England Patriots turned those giveaways into 17 points last night to help win their first Super Bowl.
Ty Law ran back an interception 47 yards for the Patriots' first points. Terrell Buckley went 15 yards with a fumble recovery to set up another touchdown. And Otis Smith ran another interception 30 yards, leading to a field goal in New England's 20-17 victory.
Adam Vinatieri wouldn't have had the opportunity to kick his 48-yard field goal as the game ended without those takeaways.
"We were challenging those guys all game," Law said. "We were getting up in their face. You have to do that.
"They say it's the best track team in the National Football League, but I never saw anybody win a 100-yard dash with someone standing in front of them."
The Patriots pressured league MVP Kurt Warner all day, getting three sacks. They also kept offensive player of the year Marshall Faulk from doing much damage. Faulk rushed for 76 yards but made few big plays against the hard-hitting Patriots.
"It was mistakes on our part that turned into points for them," Warner said. "Those mistakes led to 17 points, and they've got a world championship because of it."
The turnovers decided one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. The Patriots were 14-point underdogs to St. Louis, which went 14-2 this season with a high-powered offense that scored 503 points. The Rams, however, also led the league with 44 giveaways.
The Rams averaged 19 points in the first half this season but had only three at halftime. Although the Patriots couldn't establish much on offense, they didn't need to because of the takeaways.
The Rams gave New England the break it was looking for in the second quarter.
Having slowed the pace, the Patriots sought a critical defensive play, which came when Mike Vrabel pressured Warner into an awful throw to his right. The ball floated directly to Law, who ran untouched for a score.
"I was in the right place to make that big play, and it was a huge momentum swing," Law said.
Later in the period, Ricky Proehl fumbled a reception when he was hit by Antwan Harris' helmet, and Buckley returned it to the St. Louis 40.
David Patten's leaping 8-yard catch made it 14-3 at halftime.
"They have capitalized on turnovers all year, and that's how they won this game." Proehl said. "We all had a part in this ballgame and the turnovers, including myself."
Smith knocked Torry Holt to the ground at the line on his pickoff. Warner threw to where he expected his receiver to be, but the misguided pass went directly to Smith.
His return to the Rams 33 set up Vinatieri's first field goal, a 37-yarder with 1:18 remaining in the third quarter.
"We shocked the world," said Smith, who has had a knack for making plays that turn games positively and negatively. This time, it was all positive.
"We pressed them, man. And that's what we said we were going to do."
While Warner led the Rams back, he admitted the only three turnovers of the game severely damaged St. Louis.
"You can play pretty much flawless and those turnovers won't hurt," he said. "But they made the difference today. We played pretty well, then we made those mistakes, and they were the kind of mistakes you lose games with."
And Super Bowls.

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