The New England Patriots have captured their second National Football League title with a 32-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 38 played Sunday in Houston, Texas.
The game opened as a defensive battle, producing the longest scoreless stretch in Super Bowl history at nearly 27 minutes.
But the game quickly opened up in the few minutes before halftime with three touchdowns and a field goal that put the Patriots on top, 14-10.
The upstart Panthers clawed their way back in the second half and tied the game, 29-29, with less than two minutes remaining. But as he did two years ago for New England, Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked the game winning field goal, this time from 41 yards.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 22 of 48 pass attempts for 354 yards and three touchdowns. His Panthers' counterpart, Jake Delhomme, finished 16 of 33 for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
Antowain Smith was the only rusher to gain more than 50 yards, as he piled up 83 for New England. Mushin Muhammad was the leading pass receiver for Carolina with four receptions, 140 yards and one touchdown. Deion Branch hauled in 10 catches for 143 yards and one touchdown for New England.
More than 70-thousand fans were inside Reliant stadium to watch the game in person while nearly one-billion people around the world watched on television. The stadium features the first retractable roof in the NFL, and it was closed for the game because of a threat of rain. Security precautions were visibly high for the annual championship.
Celebrity entertainers sang and danced before the Super Bowl and during halftime. Several new commercials aired during the telecast as advertisers use the event each year to show off their creativity. The ads cost about two-and-a-half million dollars for 30 seconds of airtime.
On a more solemn note, the Super Bowl coincided with the one-year anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. A salute to the seven astronauts who died in the accident was part of the pre-game festivities.
The six Americans and one Israeli who died as the shuttle broke apart on re-entry over Texas. Mission Control for the U.S. space program is located in Houston.