The New England Review

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I am going to be reviewing the five best Patriots players to play since 2000. This is in honor of the Patriots playing in the Super Bowl this weekend. I chose after the year 2000 for one reason, and that is because that is when the Patriots starting winning Super Bowls. To assess how good the players are, I came up with a rating system. The qualities that I look for in a player are skill, athleticism, clutch play, football smarts, attitude, and most of all, leadership. I took all of these aspects and set a maximum amount of points for each, depending on how important I think each quality is. The maximum skill is 15, athleticism is 12, clutch play is 15, football smarts are 10, attitude is 20, and leadership is 20. Primarily, the reason that attitude and leadership are so high is because to play for the Patriots, you have to play the “Patriots way”, and those are the most important things in embodying the “Patriot way”. To decide whom the five players would be, I chose six players who I thought would make the cut. Those players were Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Troy Brown, Teddy Bruschi, Vince Wilfork, and Rob Gronkowski. Only five of them can be the best Patriots players to play since 2000, but I was surprised to see who didn’t make it.

First off, the fifth best player on the Patriots since 2000 is Troy Brown. He was an excellent athlete, and had an excellent attitude on and off the field. Also, Brown was an excellent leader, and he was selected to be an honorary captain for the Patriots this postseason. Brown’s incredible athleticism allowed him to play both offense and defense in the same game. He was extremely versatile. Brown received an 11/15 in skill, 12/12 in athleticism, 12/15 in clutch play, 8/10 in football smarts, 17/20 in attitude, and 16/20 in leadership for a total of 76/92. It was always a pleasure to watch Troy Brown with his incredible speed that gave him a tendency to break of for big plays. He was one of the most versatile Patriots ever.

Next, the fourth best player on the Patriot since 2000 is Rob Gronkowski. Gronk, as fans like to call him, is a second year tight end for the Patriots. Both of his first two seasons have been memorable, tying the record for touchdowns by a tight end in his rookie season, and setting the records for both touchdowns and yards for a tight end in a season this year. Gronkowski’s combination of size and speed give him a huge advantage over smaller defensive backs. Quite suddenly, Gronkowski has developed into one of the best tight ends ever. Gronkowski got 14/15 in skill, 11/12 in athleticism, 12/15 in clutch play, 8/10 in football smarts, 17/20 in attitude, and 15/20 in leadership for a total of 77/92. In the future, Gronkowski’s score could be even higher, but he is so young that nobody knows what he is fully capable of, as well as how good of a leader he is.

Next, the third best Patriots player since 2000 is Vince Wilfork. “Big Vince” is a legitimate force of nature. He weighs in excess of 300 pounds, but still runs a 5.08 40-yard dash, according to 40-yard-dash-times.com. He is one of the best run stuffers in the league because he clogs up the middle with his size. Wilfork is also an excellent leader. He has grown well into the leadership position given to him. Wilfork has led the maligned Patriots defense through this season with a little dignity. He is a great example of the “Patriot way”. Wilfork got a 13/15 in skill, 10/12 in athleticism, 12/15 in clutch play, 8/10 in smart, 18/20 in attitude, and 19/20 in leadership for a total of 80/92. Wilfork got a high amount of points in every area because he is great at everything he does in football.

At last, the second best player on the Patriots since 2000 is Teddy Bruschi. Bruschi is one of the best linebackers of all time. He was highly aggressive, but also extremely smart. He is probably the best enforcer for making his team play the “Patriot way”. Bruschi did not become famous right away, but slowly climbed up to the top.  Also, he helped lead the outstanding defense of the 2001 season, when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl. Bruschi got a 13/15 in skill, 10/12 in athleticism, 14/15 in clutch play, 10/10 in football smarts, 20/20 in attitude, and 20/20 in leadership for a total of 87/92. Bruschi is legend in the minds of Patriots fans. The fan favorite was one of the biggest pieces to the three Super Bowl titles in 2001, 2003, and 2004. The only bigger piece is the next player I am going to talk about.

Finally, the number one player to play for the Patriots since 2000 is Tom Brady. Brady is almost a surefire future hall of famer, even though he was drafted 199th in the NFL draft. Peyton Manning was drafted 1st. Brady began his career as a third string quarterback for the Patriots, and slowly climbed his way up to back up. When Drew Bledsoe went down in 2001, Brady made the most of his opportunity and led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory. Tom Brady surpassed all odds and became one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history because he is so competitive. Also, Tom Brady is aware that if a better quarterback shows up in New England, he will lose his job. This makes him play and practice harder. Tom Brady received a 15/15 in skill, 9/12 in athleticism, 15/15 in clutch, 10/10 in football smarts, 20/20 in attitude, and 20/20 in leadership for a total of 89/92. Tom Brady would have a perfect score if he was a little more athletic, but he makes up for that with his quick decision-making, and excellent pocket awareness. Tom Brady is one of the best football players ever.

Each one of these players is very deserving to be considered the best Patriots players since 2000. All of them are excellent at what they do. It is surprising not to see Randy Moss on this list, given that he is one of the most talented players ever to put on a Patriot uniform. Unfortunately, his attitude and leadership were abysmal, especially his attitude, so he didn’t make the list. All of these other players made the list because they are, or were, extremely talented football players, and embody the “Patriot way”.

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The Road to Indianapolis

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Some people may say that the New England Patriots lucked out completely, which they did in the end, but this game wasn’t all based on luck. The maligned Patriots defense has been ridiculed all season for being the second worst defese in yards allowed, the defense has stepped up in a major way this post season. The Patriots completely shut down the Denver Broncos in the AFC Divisional Round, allowing only 10 points. The Broncos didn’t have the best offense in the league, though. They rely on a ground and pound offense in a league that likes to air out the ball. The Broncos also didn’t score many points this season, relying on quarterback Tim Tebow’s “miracles” that helped the team come out with a dramatic win in the last few seconds of the game, or overtime. Critics and doubters of the Patriot defense figured that this game was a fluke becasue the Broncos offense was so bad.

Most people figured that the Patriots defense would struggle against an above average Ravens offense, led by Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice. This game would be a serious test to see how good the Patriots defense really is. In the 2009 AFC Wild Card round, the Patriots faced the Ravens. On the first play from scrimmage, Ray Rice slipped thorugh a hole in the defense and gashed the secondary with his blistering speed for an 81 yard touchdown. The game finished 33-14. Geuss who won?

Now in 2012, the Patriots faced the Ravens in the AFC Championship game. Winner gets to go to the Super Bowl, and the loser has to go home. Tom Brady and the Patriots potent offense struggled throughout the whole game. Even when Brandon Spikes intercepted Joe Flacco in the fouth quarter, Tom Brady through a pick on the next play. Two interceptions is not a typical Tom Brady day, and let’s pray that that doesn’t happen in the Super Bowl. The maligned defense was the Patriots savior, coming up with huge plays late in the game. One was the Brandon Spikes interception. Another, and probably the most important play of the whole season, was when Sterling Moore stripped Lee Evans of the sure touchdown that would have given the Ravens the lead with less than a minute left. Nobody had ever heard of Sterling Moore before, who started his season on the practice squad of the Oakland Raiders. Then, with about 15 seconds left in the game, the Patriots got a stroke of luck. The Ravens decided to kick the field goal to tie the game with a few seconds left. The ball was snapped to the holder, who quickly turned the ball 140 degrees and placed it on the ground. The Ravens kicker, Billy Cundiff, approached the ball with the intentions to send this game into overtime. His foot accelerated foward and smashed the ball up. For a second, it looked like it would be good, but suddenly it began to spin quickly a was spun wide to the left of the goal post. The stadium errupted with cheers and the Patriots players ran onto the field. The only thing the Ravens legendary linebacker, Ray Lewis, could do was look in utter shock as his team missed out on the opprotunity to go to the Super Bowl. I think that Owner Robert Kraft’s late wife Myra pushed that kick left. The season was dedicated to her, and after Ben Jarvis Green Ellis scored a touchdown earlier in the game, he passionately pointed to the Myra’s initials MHK on his jersey. Now, the Patriots are in Indianapolis, preparing to take on the Giants in the biggest sporting event of the year. The Super Bowl.

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