account
search
search

Super Bowl XXXVI -- Patriots sketches

  |   Feb. 1, 2002 at 1:19 PM
NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- New England Patriots sketches:

Coach -- Bill Belichick, 2nd year -- One of the NFL's most respected defensive architects became one of the league's best coaches in 2001 and escaped the shadow of Bill Parcells. Took

the core of a 5-11 team added role players and blue-collar guys at discount prices and it resulted in a trip to Super Bowl XXXVI. In a 24-17 loss to St. Louis in November, Belichick's Patriots surrendered 482 total yards and 26 first

downs although they did force three turnovers. Belichick's biggest move was to keep Tom Brady as his starting quarterback even when Drew Bledsoe was ready to return. Gained respect for disciplining Terry Glenn for unexcused absences from practice. In his second year as Patriots coach, Belichick was an assistant to Parcells when New England went to New Orleans for Super Bowl XXXI following the 1996 season. Had a 36-44

record with one playoff appearance in five years as coach of the Cleveland Browns. Defensive coordinator for two Super Bowl championship teams with the New York Giants under Parcells in 1986 and 1990. Was an assistant for the New York Jets under Parcells for three years before he was named to succeed Parcells, but promptly resigned and bolted to New England in January 2000.

Offense

QB -- 12 Tom Brady, 6-4, 220, 2nd year -- When Brady stepped in for injured starter Drew Bledsoe in Week 2, the Pats became a different team, winning 12 of 15 games. Suffered a sprained

left ankle late in first half against Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game and did not return. But he expects to be ready for Super Bowl XXXVI. In the first meeting against the Rams this season, Brady went 19-of-27 for 185 yards with a

touchdown and two interceptions. Although Brady doesn't have Bledsoe's arm, his intangibles made the difference. Brady gets rid of the ball quickly, makes good reads and has shown the

ability to feel the rush and step up in the pocket. Excellent footwork and ballhandling skills. Showed how unflappable he was in New England's 16-13 overtime divisional playoff win over Oakland, completing 32-of-52 for 312 yards, with 238 yards after the first half. A sixth-round pick out of Michigan in 2000 as the 199th overall selection, Brady earned Pro Bowl honors in his first year as a starter, ranking third in the AFC in quarterback rating. Completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,843 yards and18 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. Attempted just three passes as a rookie.

QB -- 11 Drew Bledsoe, 6-5, 240, 9th year -- Lost his starting job to Tom Brady after suffering a sheared blood vessel in his chest after taking a hard hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis in Week Two. When he was given clearance to return in November, coach Bill Belichick stuck with Brady and the Pats won the AFC East title. But Bledsoe came in for an injured Brady in the AFC championship game late in the second quarter

and passed for a touchdown and committed no turnovers as the Pats posted a 24-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. A three-time Pro Bowler, Bledsoe signed a 10-year, $103 million extension last March. The top overall pick in the 1993 draft had missed just six games due to injuries before

the 2001 season. Led the Patriots to their last Super Bowl trip five years ago. Was 25-of-48 for 253 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions in New England's 35-21 loss to Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXI.

RB -- 32 Antowain Smith, 6-2, 230, 5th year -- Released by the Buffalo Bills in a salary cap move, Smith was New England's top discount signing for $500,000. With incentives, earned $1 million. Provided the Pats with a sorely needed running game, becoming the team's first 1,000-yard rusher since Robert Edwards in 1998. Had a career-high 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns. Smith rushed for 47 yards on 15 carries in the AFC championship game. Was held to 36 yards on 15 carries in the first meeting against the Rams. A first-round pick of the Bills in 1997, Smith rushed for 1,964 yards in his first two seasons. Bothered by hamstring problems in 2000, starting just three games.

FB -- 44 Marc Edwards, 6-0, 245, 5th year -- Another discount free agent signing, Edwards helped Antowain Smith rush for more than 1,000 yards with his blocking. Had just 51 carries for 141 yards and caught 25 passes. Has never missed a game in five NFL seasons. A second-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 1997, Edwards was traded to the Cleveland Browns in 1999 for a fourth-round pick. Had just eight carries and 43 catches in two years with the Browns.

WR -- 86 David Patten, 5-10, 190, 5th year -- Matches up against right cornerback Dexter McCleon in Super Bowl XXXVI. Yet another bargain signee, Patten made it look easy on a snow-covered field in the divisional playoff win over Oakland, catching eight passes for 107 yards after the first half. Made his mark with the Patriots in an October 21 win at Indianapolis when he became the first player since Walter Payton in 1979 to pass, rush and catch a touchdown pass in the same game. Set career-highs with 51 receptions for 749 yards and four touchdowns. Had two catches for 37 yards, including a 10-yard TD in the first meeting against St. Louis. Played in the Arena League before signing with the New York Giants in 1997. Was the team's primary kick returner before signing with the Cleveland Browns in 2000.

WR -- 80 Troy Brown, 5-10, 193, 9th year -- Matches up against left cornerback Aeneas Williams in Super Bowl XXXVI. Is one of the primary reasons the Patriots are playing for the Lombardi

Trophy. In the AFC championship game, Brown returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and recovered a blocked field goal and lateraled it to Antwan Harris for another score in the third quarter. Also had eight catches for 121 yards. Had eight catches for 91 yards against St. Louis earlier this season. The team's best receiver and an invaluable punt returner. A perfect fit for Tom Brady in a possession passing game. Not a deep threat, Brown is tough to cover on short and intermediate routes. Excellent hands and gets yards after the catch. Set a club record with 101 catches for 1,199 yards, yet was snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting. Led the NFL with a 14.2 yard average and two touchdowns on punt returns. Stands fifth all time in franchise history with 321 receptions. Emerged as a top-flight receiver in 2000, catching 83 passes for 944 yards. Primary punt returner each of the last four years. An eighth-round pick of the Pats in 1993 at No. 198 overall.

TE -- 83 Rod Rutledge, 6-5, 265, 4th year -- Primarily the blocking tight end, Rutledge has just 27 catches in four NFL seasons. A second-round pick in 1998, Rutledge has played in

all 64 games.

TE -- 85 Jermaine Wiggins, 6-2, 255, 2nd year -- Enjoyed a career night in the snow, catching a club playoff record 10 passes for 68 yards in the divisional playoff win over Oakland. He had just 14 catches in the regular season. One of the

"Belichick Six" from the Jets, claimed off waivers in November 2000. Originally signed by the Jets in 1999 and placed on the practice squad.

LT -- 71 Matt Light, 6-4, 305, Rookie -- Matches up against end Grant Wistrom in Super Bowl XXXVI. Did a good job against linebacker Joey Porter and end Kimo Von Oelhoffen in the AFC championship game. Not many rookies can start at left tackle,

but Light has entrenched himself at the position. Protects Tom Bady's blind side and has been a force in the running game. ny of the team's critical short yardage runs have followed

Light's lead. Missed most of three games with a shoulder injury and stomach ailment. Developed quickly as evidenced by his two matchups with Miami defensive end Jason Taylor in Week Four, Taylor beat Light for a sack and several hurries. In Week 15, Taylor was rendered a non-factor by Light.

LG -- 77 Mike Compton, 6-6, 310, 9th year -- Will be matched against Jeff Zgonina in Super Bowl XXXVI. Signed with the Pats last April after spending the first eight years of his career

with the Detroit Lions. Has played every position on the offensive line in his NFL career. Interior of the line with Compton, center Damien Woody and guard Joe Andruzzi, helped Antowain Smith, essentially an insider runner, rush for more

than 1,000 yards. Started 86 games in his last six years with the Lions. A starter on the line that helped Barry Sanders rush for more than 2,000 yards in 1997. A third-round pick of the Lions in 1993.

C -- 65 Damien Woody, 6-3, 320, 3rd year -- Will be matched against middle linebacker London Fletcher in Super Bowl XXXVI. One of only two players to start in all 48 games for the

Patriots over the last three years. The other is S Lawyer Milloy. Popular first-round pick out of local Boston College in 1999, Woody has improved each season. Helped Antowain Smith rush for more than 1,000 yards.

RG -- 63 Joe Andruzzi, 6-3, 315, 5th year -- Matches up against defensive tackle Brian Young in Super Bowl XXXVI. Made the switch from left to right guard guard this season and has started all 16 games for the Pats. Andruzzi's father is a

retired New York policeman and his three brothers are New York firemen who have been working at the World Trade Center site. They served as honorary captains for a Sept.23 game at Foxboro, 12 days after the terrorist attacks of the World Trade

Center. Andruzzi spent two years with Green Bay before signing with the Patriots as a free agent in 2000.

RT -- 64 Greg Robinson-Randall, 6-5, 322, 2nd year -- Matches up against speed-rushing end Leonard Little in Super Bowl XXXVI. Became the full-time starter at right tackle this season. A fourth-round pick out of Michigan State in 2000,

Robinson-Randall started in four of 12 games as a rookie.

Defense

LE -- 91 Bobby Hamilton, 6-5, 280, 6th year -- Matches up against right tackle Ryan Tucker in Super Bowl XXXVI The Pats' best all-around defensive lineman, having led the team with a

career-high seven sacks. One of the "Belichick Six" from the New York Jets, Hamilton managed just 5 1/2 sacks in four years with the Jets before signing with the Pats in July 2000. Originally signed by Seattle as a rookie free agent in April 1994, but was on injured reserve for two years before signing with the Jets in July 1996.

LDT -- 99 Brandon Mitchell, 6-3, 280, 5th year -- Matches up against right guard Adam Timmerman in Super Bowl XXXVI. Started all 16 games this season and 41 over the past three years. A second-round pick of the Pats in 1997 out of Texas A&M. Not a

strong pass rusher, as evidenced by his six career sacks.

RDT -- 93 Richard Seymour, 6-6, 305, Rookie -- Matches up against left guard Tom Nutten in Super Bowl XXXVI. Belichick took Seymour with the sixth overall pick in the April draft and the rookie from Georgia helped to solidify the interior of the

line. Many players credit Seymour for improving the run defense. Played in 15 games and also had 3 1/2 sacks. Voted All-Southeastern Conference first team twice at Georgia.

RE -- 98 Anthony Pleasant, 6-5, 280, 12th year -- Matches up against perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace in Super Bowl XXXVI. Another one of the "Belichick Six" from the Jets, Pleasant was a discount signing who ended up starting every game and recording six sacks. Has started 64 straight games over the last four seasons with the Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Pats. The second-oldest starter at 34, Pleasant was a third-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 1990. Had a career-high 11 sacks in 1993 and spent seven years with the organization, even making the move to Baltimore in 1996. Spent an injury-plagued season with Atlanta in 1997 before signing with the Jets in 1998. Was a major disappointment last season with San Francisco.

DE -- 55 Willie McGinest, 6-5, 270, 8th year -- Rotates at end and played well in the AFC championship game, recording six tackles and a sack. Ranked second on the team with 5 1/2

sacks in 12 games. A starter on New England's last Super Bowl team in 1996. Four times in his eight-year career, McGinest has either tied or led the team in sacks. The fourth overall pick in the 1994 draft, McGinest has 51 1/2 career sacks.

SLB -- 51 Mike Vrabel, 6-4, 250, 5th year -- Played the first four years of his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers before signing a three-year, $5.29 million contract with the Pats last March. Never started a game in four years with the Steelers where he was behind Jason Gildon and Joey Porter, but started 13 with the Pats at strongside linebacker and had 2 1/2 sacks. A third-round pick of the Steelers in 1997 out of Ohio State.

MLB -- 54 Tedy Bruschi, 6-1, 245, 6th year -- Will be matched against center Andy McCollum in Super Bowl XXXVI. Replaced injury-plagued Ted Johnson as the starting middle linebacker

this season. Started 30 games at outside linebacker in 1999 and 2000. A third-round pick of the Pats out of Arizona in 1996,

Bruschi was primarily a special teamer for two years before getting seven starts in 1998.

WLB -- 95 Roman Phifer, 6-2, 248, 11th year -- Perhaps no player is enjoying this playoff run more than Phifer, who reached his first postseason after 11 years -- the longest drought of any active player in the NFL. A second-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1991 out of UCLA, Phifer spent eight years there before signing with the Jets in 1999. Another one of the "Belichick Six" from the Jets, Phifer had two mediocre seasons with the Jets and was cut last February in a salary cap move. Parcells pounced on him and Phifer was one of the Pats' top defensive players, starting every game and finishing second in tackles with 92.

LB -- 52 Ted Johnson, 6-4, 253, 7th year -- injuries cost Johnson his starting job to Tedy Bruschi at middle linebacker. Played in 13 games this season. Has missed a total of 20 games over the last four years due to injuries. Has not

been the same player since tearing his left bicep muscle in 1999. A starter at middle linebacker on the 1996 Super Bowl team. Had a career-high 127 tackles in 1997. A second-round pick out of Colorado in 1995.

LCB -- 24 Ty Law, 5-11, 199, 7th year -- Matches up against Torry Holt in Super Bowl XXXVI.. New England's best cover corner, Law made headlines prior to the AFC championship game with his trash talking, claiming the Steelers receivers would

take a physical pounding. Responded in that game with seven tackles. Had 12 tackles in the divisional playoff win in the snow over Oakland and held Jerry Rice to four catches for 48

yards. Had three interceptions and returned two for touchdowns this season. A first-round pick in 1995, Law has started 95 games in his seven years with the Pats. Was in his second year and first as a full-time starter in 1996 when the Pats last

reached the Super Bowl. Named to the Pro Bowl in 1998 after leading the NFL with nine interceptions.

RCB -- 45 Otis Smith, 5-11, 196, 12th year -- Matches up against Isaac Bruce in Super Bowl XXXVI. The oldest starter at 36, Smith led the Pats with five interceptions for 181 yards, including two touchdowns this season. Held Tim Brown to five catches for 42 yards in the divisional playoff win in the snow over Oakland. Smith was also a starter at right corner on the last Patriots team to reach the Super Bowl in 1996 when Belichick was a defensive assistant. Another one of the "Belichick Six," Smith played three years with the Jets from 1997-99 with Belichick as defensive coordinator before following Belichick to the Pats in 2000. Originally signed with Philadelphia as a rookie free agent in April 1990.

SS -- 36 Lawyer Milloy, 6-0, 207, 6th year -- Matches upagainst tight end Ernie Conwell in Super Bowl XXXVI. Had interception with 2:02 remaining in the AFC championship game to seal the Patriots' ticket to New Orleans. One of only two Pro Bowlers on the Patriots, Milloy is perhaps the league's best strong safety. Invaluable in run support, Milloy also had two interceptions and 2 1/2 sacks. A second-round pick in 1996, Milloy was a starter on the Pats' last Super Bowl team that year. Named to the Pro Bowl in 1998 and 1999. Has made 90 consecutive starts and is the only Patriot to start all 80 games over the past five years.

FS -- 34 Tebucky Jones, 6-2, 218, 4th year -- Made the transition from cornerback to free safety in 2000 and is the fastest player in the secondary. Started all 16 games this season, but had just one interception. Had interception in the

fourth quarter of the AFC championship game with under four minutes remaining. A first-round pick out of Syracuse in 1998,Jones started just two games at cornerback in two years before

shifting to safety. Had two interceptions in nine starts in 2000.

NB -- 27 Terrell Buckley, 5-9, 176, 10th year -- Another discount signing, Buckley had three interceptions, including one he returned 52 yards for a touchdown against the Rams in the first meeting. A first-round pick of the Green Bay Packers and the fifth overall selection in the 1992 draft, Buckley started 44 of 46 games in three years with the team before he was traded to Miami in 1995. Spent five years with the Dolphins and enjoyed his best season in 1998, when he tied for the team lead with eight interceptions. Had six interceptions for the Denver Broncos in 2000.

Special Teams

K -- 4 Adam Vinatieri, 6-0, 200, 6th year -- Secured a place in Patriots lore by kicking the game-tying 45-yard field goal through the snow with 27 seconds left in regulation and the

winning 23-yarder in the divisional playoff win over Oakland. Also made a 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter of the AFC

championship game that gave New England a 24-17 lead. Has scored 688 points in his six years with the Pats. Also a member of the 1996 Super Bowl team. Converted 24-of-28 field goals this season.

P -- 13 Ken Walter, 6-1, 195, 5th year -- Spent his first four years with the Carolina Panthers before signing as a free agent with the Patriots. Averaged 40.1 yards on punts and dropped 24 inside the 20.

KR -- 33 Kevin Faulk, 5-8, 202, 3rd year -- Has been the team's top kick returner each of his three seasons. Averaged just 20.1 yards per return this season. Also utilized as a third-down back, Faulk rushed 41 times for 169 yards and caught 30 passes for 189 yards. A second-round pick out of Louisiana State in 1999.

PR -- 80 Troy Brown, 5-10, 193, 9th year -- Led the NFL with a14.2 yard average on punt returns and had two touchdowns.In the AFC championship game, Brown returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown and recovered a blocked field goal and

lateraled the ball to Antwan Harris, who raced 49 yards for another score. Primary punt returner the last four years.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
x
Feedback