Vinatieri's 48-yard field goal as time expired Sunday night gave New England its first Super Bowl win ever, a 20-17 victory over the heavily-favored St. Louis Rams.
The winning kick set off raucous celebrations by the Patriots and capped a spectacular worst-to-first turnaround by a team that finished last in the AFC East in 2000.
"The fans of New England have been waiting 42 years for this day," said Patriots owner Bob Kraft after accepting the Vince Lombardi trophy. "We are all patriots and tonight the Patriots are world champions."
CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller reports during the flight to Eglin Air Firce Base in Florida where President Bush is selling his newly released budget plan, Mr. Bush phoned congratulations to the Patriots owner and invited the Super Bowl champs to the White House at a date to be determined.
"For so long, the city's been known as being losers," said Dan Shapira, 23, of Framingham. "(Sunday) was Boston's day. The tables are going to turn. The fans are going to feed off this and support all the teams."
There will be more celebrations Tuesday, when the city hosts a parade from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza at noon.
Boston's sports teams had become known more for failure than success, with the Boston Red Sox's 83-year championship drought emblematic of the regional frustration. Boston's last championship came when the Celtics won the NBA title in 1986.
But the Patriots defied the odds and bad Boston karma all season, beating a host of favored teams and overcoming a 1-3 start en route to Sunday's win over the Rams, who were favored by 14 points.
"We're the champions of the world," Marshfield native Scott Kantor, 35, exclaimed as he and 300 other fans at the Sports Depot restaurant in Boston's Allston section leaped after Vinatieri's kick.
"Nobody gave us any respect at all," Kantor said, pausing to catch his breath as fans went crazy. "All the so-called experts had us being blown out. No one thought we could do it except for us."
At least one fan, Diane Sheridan, 43, of Brighton, said the 1986 Red Sox - losers to the New York Mets in the World Series - were on her mind as Vinatieri lined up.
"That's the Red Sox for you - I said we're not going to win this, even as everyone was going crazy," she said.
In Kenmore Square, near Boston's famed Fenway Park, more than 1,000 fans crowded the streets and chanted anti-New York Yankee slogans.
Seth Burton watched celebrators outside his Northeastern University dorm room surround an empty car.
"I saw them flip the car onto a fire made out of paper boxes and newspapers," Burton said. "The cops came and flipped the car back over, and left. Then people went back to beating the snot out of the car."
Things out of hand at the University of Massahusetts at Amherst, where students stormed a dining hall, stole a table and tossed it onto a bonfire. One person was arrested.
Police in Boston and surrounding reported four arrests for offense ranging from vandalism to disorderly conduct.
Fans around the region celebrated the win.
"I thought they'd be decent, but I didn't think they were a Super Bowl-caliber team," said Justin Souther, 29, of Weare, N.H., who watched the game in Bedford, N.H., with his wife and in-laws.
In a crowded and noisy Coach's Sports Bar and Grille in Hartford, Conn., Patriots fan Hilda Bockius cheered wildly just 3 feet from John Damon, who shook his head sadly as his Rams lost.
"I think I'm going to cry," said Bockius, a New London resident. "This is the third time we've been in the Super Bowl. We deserve this."
"I said before the game that if the defense can put points on the board, they'd have a chance," said Ron-e Bates, general manager of the Sportsman's Bar & Grill in Portland, Maine.
The bar exploded when defensive back Ty Law put six points on the board after picking off a Kurt Warner pass and returning it for a touchdown in the second quarter, giving the Patriots a 7-3 lead.
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