Patriots

Marshall Faulk Still Feels Cheated By Patriots Winning Super Bowl XXXVI

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
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Marshall Faulk walks off the field after his team's loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. (Photo by Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Marshall Faulk walks off the field after his team’s loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. (Photo by Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — Marshall Faulk says he’s “over” his Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, but his follow-up comments indicate he might not be.

“”Am I over the loss? Yeah, I’m over the loss,” Faulk told CSNNE’s Tom E. Curran in New Orleans. “But I’ll never be over being cheated out of the Super Bowl. That’s a different story. I can understand losing a Super Bowl, that’s fine. … But how things happened and what took place … Obviously, the commissioner gets to handle things how he wants to handle them but if they wanted us to shut up about what happened, show us the tapes. Don’t burn them.”

Faulk, of course, is referencing the Spygate situation surrounding the Patriots. The team and Bill Belichick were fined a combined $750,000, and they also had a draft pick taken away for breaking NFL rules by filming opposing coaches’ defensive signals on the sidelines. Specifically, Faulk was referring to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to destroy the collected tapes after determining his punishment for the team. (However, those videos were played for media members prior to Goodell’s press conference announcing the penalties.)

Faulk is also apparently still of the belief that John Tomase’s Boston Herald story, printed the day before the Patriots played in Super Bowl XLII and detailing alleged Patriots videotaping of a Rams walkthrough practice prior to Super Bowl XXXVI, was true. However, the Herald eventually issued an apology, admitting to have never seen any video of the alleged taped walkthrough practice and not even speaking to anyone who had seen it.

“We now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walkthrough ever existed,” the Herald admitted in May 2008.

Yet, Faulk, a Hall of Fame running back, still very clearly still believes the Patriots taped the walkthrough, telling Curran that the Patriots were prepared for Rams plays that hadn’t been run all season long.

“I understand Bill [Belichick] is a great coach, but [Kurt Warner] will tell you, Mike Martz will tell you — we had some plays in the red zone that we hadn’t ran,” Faulk told Curran. “Any time that I was offset, I was always stationary. And we had creating motioning in the backfield at the same depth on the other side of the field. And they created a check for it. It’s just little things like that. It’s either the best coaching in the world when you come up with situations that you had never seen before. Or you’d seen it and knew what to do.”

Faulk’s comments, frankly, are pathetic.

The Patriots, from the opening kickoff until Adam Vinatieri’s final field goal, took the field in New Orleans in February 2002 and imposed their physicality on the Rams for 60 solid minutes. The Rams’ offense relied heavily on precise timing, and the Patriots spent much of the game knocking the receivers and Faulk off their routes. The defensive backfield of Ty Law, Otis Smith, Lawyer Milloy and Tebucky Jones knocked around the vaunted St. Louis receiving corps in the opening drive, making them timid when running over the middle for the rest of the night.  Faulk could never make it out of the backfield without absorbing a shot from the likes of Willie McGinest or Mike Vrabel.

It makes sense for Faulk to be mystified at a less-talented team beating “The Greatest Show On Turf,” but it had nothing to do with videotapes or cheating. The Patriots simply manhandled the Rams from start to finish. Add in a poised drive from Tom Brady in the closing minutes and an ice-in-his-veins kicker, and the Patriots did just enough that night to earn that 20-17 victory.

Faulk’s memory is also not quite as sharp as he might think it is. He referenced getting to the red zone, when the Rams “got to fourth down — we ran three plays that we hadn’t ran.” However, the Rams made their way into the red zone incredibly just once in the entire game. On that possession, on third-and-goal from the 3, Law let an interception go through his arms in simple man-to-man coverage on Isaac Bruce, who showed little interest in fighting for the football. On the ensuing fourth down, Warner scrambled right when he had no open options. Roman Phifer stripped the ball on the 1-yard line, and Jones ran it 99 yards back for a touchdown that would have secured a Patriots win. However, because McGinest very clearly held Faulk, the play was called back.

Faulk was then stuffed on a run up the middle. It wasn’t exactly a revolutionary play run by the Rams, so Faulk couldn’t have been complaining about that one. Then, apparently the videotapes failed the Patriots, because Warner ran a sneak right up the gut for a Rams touchdown that cut the Patriots’ lead to 17-10.

For Faulk to specifically mention the red zone defense of the Patriots is preposterous, considering it was the Rams who caught the Patriots out of position and scored in their only red zone trip of the game. (Also, the prolific Rams offense had scored in every single red zone possession from Week 10 through the Super Bowl. Who stopped them in Week 10? That would be the Patriots. Perhaps the Patriots had taped the Rams’ walkthrough prior to that game too, Marshall?)

Add it all up, and it’s still the sourest of grapes from Faulk, who’s comments will serve to perpetuate the false report of the Patriots taping a Rams walkthrough prior to the Super Bowl.

It was a football game. The Rams were soft. The Patriots punched them in the mouth. The Patriots earned their Super Bowl the old-fashioned way, the way teams used to be able to play the sport of football. It was not aided by videotapes or signals; it was won with will, effort and toughness. Based on his excuses more than a decade later, it’s clear Faulk is still lacking any.

Read more from Michael by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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