Wednesday, January 02, 2008
December 30, 2007
By Jim Donaldson
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- "Mike Vrabel is a guy who I'm not surprised by anything he's able to do."
So said Richard Seymour, after Vrabel put the finishing touch on the Patriots' perfect season by cleanly catching Lawrence Tynes' onside kick at the New York 41 with just over a minute remaining, preserving New England's historic, come-from-behind, 38-35 victory.
The players sent on to the field when an onside kick is expected are known as the "Hands" team. And, if you're surprised that a linebacker would be on it, well, you haven't been watching Vrabel in his seven seasons with the Patriots.
Vrabel has a great pair of hands, as he's demonstrated time after time playing tight end in goal-line situations.
He has caught 10 passes for the Patriots over the years, and all of them have been for touchdowns. Two of them have come this season, and two others were in Super Bowls -- one against Carolina, the other against Philadelphia. He once had two TD catches in one game -- against the Jets in 2005.
But it's on defense that he primarily earns his paycheck. He leads the team this year with a career-high 11 1/2 sacks. Although he doesn't have an interception this year, he has had 10 since coming to New England from Pittsburgh as a free agent in 2001.
"He's a football player," Seymour said. "He makes a lot of plays. If Tom Brady were to do down, he could probably step in and play quarterback."
He also has 10 career interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.