14. Super Bowl XXXVIII, 2004: New England 32—Carolina 29
The second appearance for the Brady/Belichick Patriots was a thriller, during which they barely survived a late charge from the underdog Panthers led by journeyman quarterback Jake Delhomme. The surprisingly competitive finish featured a number of big plays and lead changes before finally being settled on the game’s last play.
Competitiveness: 9 out of 10. In a remarkable performance, Delhomme went toe for toe with Brady for the full sixty minutes, repeatedly bringing the Panthers back and eventually tying the game at 29-29 with just over a minute left. A botched kickoff gave the Patriots and Brady a short field to work with on the final drive and Brady did what Brady does. Still a great effort by Carolina.
Star Power: 6 out of 10. New England had Brady and Belichick and their usual group of defensive stalwarts including Mike Vrabel, who even caught a touchdown. Carolina had Steve Smith and Julius Peppers.
Intrigue/Controversy: 10 out of 10. Remember when Justin Timberlake tore some fabric off Janet Jackson’s boob and everyone went absolutely ballistic? In what was probably the dumbest and most famous controversy in Super Bowl history the FCC fined CBS $500,000 and pearl-clutching moralists everywhere fainted on their couches. God, it was so dumb.
Aftermath: 9 out of 10. This made it official – the Pats dynasty was on. They would go on to win the following year and appear three more times after that. Sunday marks the franchise’s ninth overall appearance and seventh in the last fifteen years. Amazing.
Aggregate Score: 34 out of 40.
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