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Kurt Warner believes Patriots-Rams Super Bowl might have been different if played today

02.01.12 at 12:23 pm ET
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Kurt Warner said his team's Super Bowl loss might have been different in this day and age of the NFL. (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS – Evidently, Super Bowl XXXVI still sticks in the craw of Kurt Warner.

The former Rams’ quarterback, whose team suffered a 20-17 defeat to the Patriots in one of the biggest upsets in professional sports history, told a small group of reporters while visiting the Giants’ hotel that things might have been different if the two teams played in this era of the NFL.

Warner surmised that the defensive strategy used by the Patriots on Feb. 3, 2002 would not have worked in this day and age of officials cracking down on teams defending the passing game.

“No. No,” said Warner when asked if the Patriots’ physical style of defense during that Super Bowl could be used in the present-day NFL. “With the rules now … I say no, but, again, it would have come down to the officials having to make the calls. But even with what they did then I don’t know if it was, quote-unquote, legal from the standpoint of the rulebook. But they were pushing the envelope, but, again, I give them credit because you knew if you were going to beat us that’s what you had to do, you had to push the envelope. You had to say, ‘We’re going to beat them until somebody tells us it’s illegal and throws a flag and if they don’t, keep doing it.’

“I think it would have been more difficult because there’s more emphasis on that part of things. I look at plays now and I say, ‘Really? That’s pass interference?’ It still surprises me when a guy gets banged, or a little hand on him here. But that’s the nature of where the game has come. I think it would have been much more difficult in this day and age to play that way, or play that way as long as they did. But, again, I give them because it was the right plan against us and it worked in their favor.”

Warner did go out of his way to applaud how the Patriots’ managed to slow down one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history.

“The Patriots, I give them credit,” he said. “I think they went into that game saying ‘We’re going to beat those guys up. We’re going to hold them. We’re going to scratch. We’re going to claw. We’re going to do everything we can until the officials force us not to.’ I think the one we all know is that the officials do not want to dictate the Super Bowl. The officials do now want to throw a bunch of flags in the Super Bowl that will change complexion of the game. And that’s what they did. We knew if you were going to stop us that’s what you were gong to have to do. You were going to have to knock our timing off. They did a tremendous job of doing that and it wasn’t until later in the game where we started getting a few calls and they had to loosen up a little bit and we started success. There’s no question in what they did in their game plan was key, especially early in that game, to get us out of rhythm and make the plays they needed to win.”

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