A new tale of taping by Patriots

Times Staff Writers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Did the Patriots' dynasty begin with a dirty secret?

Citing an anonymous source, the Boston Herald reported Saturday that a member of New England's video department filmed the St. Louis Rams' final walk-through before the 2002 Super Bowl. The Patriots pulled off a stunning, 20-17 upset in that game, winning on a last-second field goal by Adam Vinatieri and collecting the first of three Lombardi Trophies over a four-year span.

A walk-through practice is a final, no-pads rehearsal in which players briefly go over plays that will be used in the upcoming game. The sessions generally last no more than a half-hour and the players seldom wear more than sweats or shorts and T-shirts.

According to the newspaper, a source close to the team said the taping took place on Feb. 2, 2002, a day before the game, which was played at the Superdome in New Orleans.

"We were aware of the rumor months ago and looked into it," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "There was no evidence of it on the tapes or in the notes produced by the Patriots, and the Patriots told us it was not true."

The source told the Herald that, after completing their walk-through, the Patriots had their team picture taken and the Rams then took the field. The source said a member of New England's video staff stayed behind after the team's walk-through and filmed St. Louis' walk-through.

The report says at no time was the cameraman asked to identify himself or produce media credentials, and that he rode the media shuttle back to the hotel with news photographers when the Rams' walk-through was completed.

"The suggestion that the New England Patriots recorded the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI is absolutely false. Any suggestion to the contrary is untrue," Patriots spokesman Stacey James said.

New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin said Saturday that injured receiver Plaxico Burress was continuing to show improvement.

Burress, who has had ankle and knee problems all season, missed practices this week but participated in the team's 50-minute walk-through the day before Super Bowl XLII.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

david.wharton@latimes.com

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