Terrell Buckley was a tremendous talent at Florida State and parlayed those skills into a long time NFL career. Buckley has the distinction of being the player with the most interceptions in NFL history to not make a single Pro Bowl. He had some sensational seasons with the Dolphins, an excellent year with Denver and two fine seasons as a member of the Patriots.
During the Pats’ 2001 Super Bowl run, Buckley was a key contributor in the defensive backfield and on special teams. He picked off Kordell Stewart to ice the AFC championship and played very well in Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams.
Ron Bolton was another defensive back to last 11 seasons in the league. He intercepted 18 passes over three seasons with the Pats in the early 70’s. After the ’75 season, he departed for Cleveland and had his best seasons as a member of the Browns.
It’s bittersweet to bring up our next player. Ellis Hobbs was a fine kick returner for the Patriots from 2005-08 but was beaten for the game-losing touchdown in Super Bowl XLII.
Hobbs had a crucial 80-yard kickoff return for the Patriots against the Colts at the end of the 2006 AFC championship game and picked off passes in the 2007 AFC championship game and the subsequent Super Bowl.
He tried to revive his career in Philadelphia, but injuries forced his retirement.
We have a trio of outstanding running backs to wear #28 for the Patriots. Let’s start with the best of the bunch going back to the 1990’s. If one was to look up running back in a dictionary, there should be a picture of Curtis Martin next to it. Martin was a phenomenal professional for the Patriots and Jets over his 11 seasons in the NFL, truly one of the best players in NFL history.
He was such a workhorse as Coach Parcells pounded him into the line play after play. New England won the AFC championship in 1996 because Martin and Drew Bledsoe were in their prime. While Martin’s best seasons were definitely in New York, his three campaigns in New England featured some amazing performances. His finest hour wearing #28 for New England occurred in a divisional playoff game versus the Steelers wear he tore through their defense for a 78-yard touchdown run in the fog and totaled 166 yards on just 19 carries.
In 2004, Corey Dillon had a tremendous season as a member of the Patriots. After a long career of carrying a hapless Bengals offense, Dillon found his paradise in New England and went off for over 1,600 rushing yards. His powerful rushing style complemented Tom Brady’s sharp passing attack and vaulted the Pats to their third world championship over four seasons.
He split carries with Laurence Maroney during his final season in the NFL, 2006, and played a strong final game at Indianapolis in the ill-fated AFC championship game.
Finally, who doesn’t love James White? His performance in Super Bowl LI is the stuff of legends. He also had a great touchdown scamper in Super Bowl LII.
Against the Falcons, other than Tom Brady himself, nobody was as instrumental in leading New England’s comeback than White. Then, from the 2-yard line in overtime, with Dion Lewis unavailable due to injury, Brady pitched right. White swept inside the two…to the one…to the goal line and as a Bob Socci said, “It was a touchdown and a title for the Patriots.” As long as there is Patriots football, the name James White will be immortalized.
Sharing the backfield with White during the Patriots tremendous 2016 championship run was power back LeGarrette Blount. Blount has had a very interesting career. It started back in Oregon when he punched a guy. Then, he went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he established himself as a guy who would run over people.
When New England got him in 2013, he made a big splash in a torrential downpour at Gillette in the season finale versus Buffalo. In the very next game in the Divisional Round against the Colts, Blount scored four times and killed Indianapolis.
One season later, he started with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but didn’t jive with the coaching staff and walked out. The Patriots picked him back up and killed the Colts again, this time in the AFC championship game. In the 2016 AFC Championship game against the Steelers, Blount was at it again with a power run where he carried about eight guys to the one-yard line. From there, he scored. Therefore, Blount won two Super Bowls as a member of the Patriots. In 2017, he added another fine moment in his career with a touchdown run against the Patriots as he helped Philadelphia to a 41-33 Super Bowl LII victory.
Sterling Moore didn’t play very many games for New England, but he made the key play to get them into Super Bowl XLVI. The Pats only led Baltimore 23-20 with seconds left. Joe Flacco hit Lee Evans for an apparent championship winning touchdown only to have Moore rip it away. Moore went on to play decently in the big game.
He’s bounced around the league since his Patriots’ days came to an end in 2012.
Myron Guyton wore #29 for the Patriots for his mentor, Bill Parcells, for the 1994-95 seasons. Guyton won a Super Bowl under Coach Parcells and Bill Belichick for the 1990 Giants. Guyton was a versatile defensive back and special teamer known for his hustle.
Finally, at #29, we have to go way back to a guy who played brilliantly at wide receiver for the always competitive Los Angeles Rams of the 1970’s. Before his Rams days, Harold Jackson was a Pro Bowler for the Eagles. After he plays in LA, he joined the 1978 Patriots.
He played outstandingly for four seasons with New England. Jackson was a crafty veteran wideout by that time and teamed up with Steve Grogan to give the Pats some solid offensive production as well as a playoff spot.
Mosi Tatupu was one of the first ace special teamers in NFL history and one of the most popular Patriots of all-time. Tatupu was taken in the eighth round of the 1978 draft out of USC and immediately anchored the third unit on a fine Chuck Fairbanks-coached squad. He played in New England for an incredible 13 seasons.
His son, Lofa, was a great linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks. Sadly, Mosi suffered a heart attack in 2010 and died.
Duron Harmon has been a clutch player for Coach Belichick’s teams over the past few seasons and even picked off a pass in Super Bowl LII after a gratuitous bounce. He’s a closer as he’s often on the field in a dime package when teams are trying to come back.
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_BIlls