Wednesday, December 26, 2007
By Christopher L. Gasper and Mike Reiss
December 24, 2007
FOXBOROUGH - Since Bill Belichick became the Patriots coach in 2000, no defensive player has reached double digits in sacks - until yesterday.
Newly minted Pro Bowl linebacker Mike Vrabel had two sacks yesterday to give him 11 1/2 for the season. That's the highest total by a Patriot since Andre Tippett recorded 12 1/2 in 1987.
When Vrabel sacked Dolphins quarterback Cleo Lemon for a 5-yard loss in the second quarter on third and 11 from the Miami 34, he set a career high and became the first Patriots player to reach double figures in sacks since Willie McGinest had 11 in 1995.
Vrabel ended the day with the two sacks, five tackles, and two quarterback hits.
"Mike's been doing that all year," said linebacker Junior Seau. "Mike is obviously a Pro Bowler. He comes to work every day. Every day during the week he prepares himself like no other and we're happy to have him on our team."
He hauled down Lemon again for a 4-yard loss in the third quarter, part of the season-high seven sacks New England registered. Vrabel's best play of the game came later on that drive.
With the Dolphins facing fourth and goal from the 1 in the third quarter, Lemon ran a bootleg to his right and appeared to break Vrabel's contain, but the veteran forced the quarterback to go wide of the pylon, turning the ball over on downs.
"He took a flat angle. As old as we get, angles are key in this game," said Seau. "He went in there and took a great angle at it and got him out for us."
"You just got to get in," said Lemon.