ATLANTA -- It all started 17 years ago.

On Feb. 3, 2002, the Patriots upset the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI by a score of 20-17. For longtime Pats fans who suffered though decades of disappointment, it's a moment many can't forget. Exactly 17 years later, to the date, the Patriots will once again take on the Rams, this time in Super Bowl LIII.

"I believe we were 14-point underdogs and we had most of the country rooting for us," said Patriots owner Robert Kraft. "It was pretty stunning to be able to win that game after what happened with 9/11 and what our team represented so, we're privilege to be in the position we're in today."

A lot has changed in the 204 months since the Patriots' first Super Bowl championship. Cell phones have gotten smaller -- and smarter. The Internet dominates the world, the curse of Babe Ruth no longer haunts the Red Sox and the Patriots have five Super Bowl banners hanging in Gillette Stadium.

Of course, one major factor remains the same.

Tom Brady.

The Patriots quarterback went from a baby-faced 24-year-old to a 41-year-old superstar over the last 17 years.

"In many ways I'm similar," Brady said. "I don't think in the end that things are that different for me."

That's not the case for the other 52 players on the Patriots roster because most were too young to remember that first Patriots-Rams Super Bowl.

The Providence Journal polled every player on the Patriots' active roster. There are 35 who can't remember Super Bowl XXXVI, 16 who can and one who said, "Maybe." (Thanks, John Simon.)

Of the entire Patriots roster, only three players (besides Brady) were able to drive when Adam Vinatieri's 48-yard field goal on the final play of the game won the franchise's first Super Bowl -- Stephen Gostkowski, Matthew Slater and Brian Hoyer. The average age for the 52 players on this roster at the time of Super Bowl XXXVI is 10.3 years old.

For the Patriots, it's a reminder that Brady's old, but also that he's had one of the greatest careers we've ever seen from a professional athlete.

Too young

As Patriots nation rejoiced after New England's stunning upset of the Rams, most of the current players on this Patriots team were too young to have any recollection of the game being played.

Rookies Keion Crossen and Duke Dawson, the youngest players on the Patriots, weren't even in first grade. They were 5 years old. J.C. Jackson was six. There are 15 players who were seven or eight at the time.

It's clear that their focus on Feb. 3, 2002, was not football.

"I don't remember that," said Crossen. "I was being a kid at that time probably running around the house or in the yard. I didn't even know about football at that time. I didn't have a clue what sport was when I was like 5."

"I was probably running around the house," added Dawson. "I really don't remember what went on back then."

Ufomba Kamalu didn't even know what the Super Bowl was in 2001. He was 9 and living in Nigeria. Danny Shelton, who was 8, thinks he was focused on not getting in trouble with his mom at the time. That day marked James White's 10th birthday, but he can't recall what happened. Cordarrelle Patterson was 10 and isn't sure his family even had the means to watch the game.

"Seventeen years ago? Shh... heck no," Patterson said. "I don't even think we had a TV back then."

Added Malcom Brown, "I was probably outside just running around with my brothers and cousins."

There were 14 players between the ages of 10-12 at the time. Players like Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan were in middle school and can't remember the game. Fourteen others were teenagers, but only nine players were in high school during Super Bowl XXXVI.

"I was in high school. I don't know where I was," Hoyer said. "I would've been a sophomore, so I don't remember."

Added Jason McCourty: "01? I can't remember '01. Geesh. I was a freshman in high school."

After 17 years, the memory of some players was fuzzy.

"We killed them, right?" asked Patrick Chung about the Patriots-Rams Super Bowl. "I'm thinking of a different game. The Rams-Titans with the stretch. That's the one I remember."

Early memories

Sixteen current Patriots remember watching Super Bowl XXXVI.

Obi Melifonwu was 7 years old and living in Framingham, Mass., so he'll never forget the first Super Bowl his hometown Patriots won. Duron Harmon was at his aunt and uncle's house for a Super Bowl party. Ironically, the partygoers were sick of the Rams always winning (it was St. Louis' second Super Bowl appearance in three years) so they were rooting for the underdog Patriots.

"That's probably one of the first Super Bowls I remember," said Harmon, who was 10. "I just remember [a heavy] underdog and you remember wonder-boy Tom... It was crazy. There was a lot of people going for the underdogs, too."

For some players, that was the first Super Bowl they remember watching. That was the case for Keionta Davis, who was 7, and Ted Karras, who was 8. Karras remembers sitting at a bar in Disney World with his father watching the game. Joe Cardona was 9 years old and remembers eating Pizza Hut at home.

The Patriots' upset win, however, was upsetting for several Rams fans on the Patriots roster.

Jonathan Jones was 8 at the time, but a huge Marshall Faulk fan. Growing up in St. Louis, Adrian Clayborn remembers rooting for the Rams. Matthew Slater, of course, was rooting for the Rams since his dad played for the organization for 18 years.

"I think a lot of Rams fans, including myself thought, 'Man, we're just going to go in here and roll these guys,'" Slater said. "In particular when John Madden said, 'I think they should play for overtime here.' My whole house was like, 'yeah, they should play for overtime!'"

Julian Edelman was rooting for Brady since he was also from California. Rex Burkhead recalls playing knee-football on the carpet at halftime. Devin McCourty bet his mother $2 that the Rams would win and she kept the money.

"Once the Patriots started their run in the early 2000s, I became an immediate fan because Tom was the man, Adam [Vinatieri] was the man," Stephen Gostkowski said. "It was just a fun team to watch."

He's 'still here'

Bill Belichick loves the history of football and he'll occasionally put old game film on during team meetings. Dwayne Allen can remember seeing the grainy film and noting to himself how much different the game looked back then.

Then he sees Brady taking a snap.

"I think every time we watch some of the older film and it's grainy and you can barely see and there's white lines through it," Allen said. "Then you see No. 12 under center. It hits you how long Tom has been able to play at a high level in this league."

Sixty six percent of the Patriots roster was too young to remember Tom Brady's first championship. Now, they'll band together behind him in another Super Bowl. On Sunday, Brady will become the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl, beating the mark he set last year.

Seeing this quarterback every day has his teammates amazed. Some even wonder what magic he uses.

"I was a baby and this guy was in his first Super Bowl," Crossen said. "Crazy. It shocks me now. Man, he could be my dad. Ridiculous."

"He hit the fountain of youth," added Kyle Van Noy. "It's like he's 21, still."

"Aged like wine, man," said Dont'a Hightower.

"It's wild. For me, it's inspiring," said Stephen Anderson. "I definitely want to find the fountain of youth he found to be able to play this game for a long time."

This season, Brady embraced a new slogan -- "we're still here."

It represents the Patriots success after people doubted them. On other hand, it's a reminder that this 41-year-old is still on top. Seventeen years after he won his first Super Bowl, Brady is still here -- whether his teammates can remember his early years or not.

"I just feel like every year, we're talking about some crazy Tom thing that he continues to show up and play great football," said Devin McCourty. "Last year was at 40. Then everyone questioned it and now this year is at 41. Next year we'll be talking about him playing great football at 42.

"Time just doesn't catch up to this guy. Time takes us all down, but Tom somehow has seemed to jump out on top of father time and is still winning."