Patriots pressure Warner into supbar performancePosted: Sunday February 03, 2002 10:52 PM
Updated: Monday February 04, 2002 12:14 AM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The pocket wasn't a safe place for Kurt Warner.
St. Louis' MVP quarterback isn't used to dodging a pass rush and making plays on the move. But Warner was on the run all night Sunday as the New England Patriots upset the heavily favored Rams 20-17 in the Super Bowl.
Warner was sacked three times, hurried often and uncharacteristically inaccurate while taking a pounding from a steady Patriots rush. He came away from one play shaking his throwing hand after getting his thumb stung, but said after the game that it was fine.
Despite the pressure from New England's defense, Warner was 28-for-44 for 365 yards and a touchdown, and ran for a score as the Rams rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter. He connected with Ricky Proehl on a 26-yard touchdown pass with 1:30 left to tie it at 17.
But Warner's stray throws also helped put the Rams in a deep hole.
"We just kept killing ourselves," Warner said. "We couldn't finish anything off."
Warner was hit by a blitzing Mike Vrabel and threw behind Isaac Bruce in the second quarter. Ty Law intercepted the pass and raced down the sidelines for a 47-yard touchdown that gave the Patriots a 7-3 lead.
"The pressure obviously had something to do with it," Warner said. "I tried to make a bad play work. That's what you never want to do -- make a bad play work."
Smith returned the ball to the St. Louis 30, and Adam Vinatieri kicked a 37-yard field goal moments later.
"I take full responsibility for that," Holt said.
The Patriots allowed Warner to pick away at the middle of the field, but he never did find any of his speedy receivers deep. His longest completion was a 30-yarder to Proehl in the fourth quarter.
"We're a team that thrives on making the big plays," Holt said. "We made them all year."
Warner credited the Patriots' defense, but said the bigger problem was the Rams' mistakes.
"I wasn't frustrated by what they were doing," he said. "I was frustrated by what we were doing."
A missed block here, a blown route there, and some ill-advised throws did in St. Louis, he said.
Rookie defensive tackle Richard Seymour thought the Rams were rattled by the pressure.
"Anytime we can get him shifting out of his comfort zone -- out of the pocket, moving around -- that's to our advantage," he said.
Warner showed some mobility in scoring St. Louis' first touchdown on a 2-yard quarterback draw with 9:33 left in the fourth quarter to make it 17-10.
Warner went from an Arena League nobody to NFL MVP in 1999 when he led the Rams to their first Super Bowl appearance since moving to St. Louis.
He was the MVP of the Rams' Super Bowl victory against Tennessee that year, throwing for 414 yards and two touchdowns.
But in that game, which also came down to the last play, Warner didn't throw an interception and was only sacked once.