While Gostkowski and Vinatieri will go down as the two best kickers in Patriots history, Shayne Graham is a footnote of the 2010 season. When Gostkowski went down with an injury, the journeyman Graham stepped in admirably. He made all 14 of his field goal attempts in a Pats’ uniform. He is most well-known for being a Pro Bowl kicker for the Bengals.
Ryan Allen just completed his fifth season as the Patriots punter. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and beat out Zoltan Mesko for the role. He has earned Special Teams Player of the Week honors twice and has performed very well under the pressure of playoff action. His best game was probably in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks when he blasted a record 64-yard punt. In Super Bowl LII against the Eagles, New England’s offense was so unstoppable that Allen did not have to punt one time. Allen was in the ball game, however, as he struggled to place a poor snap on a first half field goal miss.
There hasn’t been a lot of great talent wearing the #7 for New England over their 58-year history so we have to discuss two mediocre quarterbacks! Hugh Millen went 5-15 over two seasons as the Patriots starting quarterback. He had a few good ball games during that period including stunners over Warren Moon and the Oilers and the powerful Buffalo Bills. He toughed out seven games (all losses) in ’92 playing with a seriously injured shoulder.
Jacoby Brissett was part of Tom Brady’s “wolfpack” as a member of the 2016 World Champion Patriots. Brissett had one solid start while Brady served his suspension for the deflated balls controversy and one miserable one. To be fair, he was playing with a severely injured thumb. After the 2017 preseason, the Patriots traded Brissett to Indianapolis for Phillip Dorsett. With the Colts, he was steady and dependable, but far from outstanding.
Josh Miller punted for the Patriots for two and a half seasons including the Super Bowl XXXIX win over the Eagles. He had a solid night in that game forcing Philadelphia to attempt to drive the length of the field on several occasions. That proved to be an undoing for the Eagles as they conked out late in the game exhausted on offense. Ironically, Miller had a punt returned for a touchdown by Troy Brown as a member of the Steelers in the 2001 AFC championship game.
We had to really do some investigatory work to find somebody who wore #9 that made an impact on the organization. We could not find anyone! In 1978, placekicker David Posey stepped in for the latter half of the season when John Smith went down with injury. And, in 1993, Scott Sisson had one lousy season as the kicker.
Jabar Gaffney spent three seasons as New England’s third or fourth receiving option. In 2006, he had 11 receptions in the regular season but 21 in the postseason. He was easily Brady’s most dependable target during those ill-fated playoffs. In 2007, New England added Welker, Moss, and Stallworth, but Gaffney still made his share of big plays. None was bigger than his game-winning touchdown reception in a Monday night thriller at Baltimore. Unfortunately, Gaffney went missing for Super Bowl XLII as Brady could not connect with him on two huge second half throws.
He had an uneventful 2008 campaign with the Patriots before bolting to Denver to play under Josh McDaniels.
Jimmy Garoppolo wore #10 for the Patriots for three and a half seasons and won two Super Bowls. The Patriots drafted him with their second round choice in the 2014 draft out of Eastern Illinois. With the Panthers, Garoppolo was tremendous. He broke virtually all of Tony Romo’s school records and won the Walter Payton player of the year for best offensive player in the nation.
Though his opportunities were limited, Garoppolo flashed his brilliance when was able to get in. In the 2016 season opener at Arizona, he played incredibly well. He followed that up with a first half for the ages in New England’s home opener against Miami. Unfortunately, he got rocked by Kiko Alonzo. Therefore, he missed out on playing in the other two games Brady missed.
He was moved to the 49ers midway through the 2017 season. The future looks exceedingly bright for San Francisco and their multi-millionaire starting quarterback. Patriots fans wish him nothing but the best as he was a hard worker and an excellent teammate.
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills