PHOTO: Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne and OG Rick DeMulling tackle New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi after he intercepts a pass by Peyton Manning in the season opener at Foxboro, October 9th, 2004. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Patriots Report: Bruschi Makes the Pro Bowl, Finally
by Jon Scott, Patriots Insider
New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi was invited to go to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. Bruschi, a nine-year veteran, has been a staple of the Patriots unheralded linebacker group since he joined the team in 96. A unit which has been overshadowed by louder, more animated players in the league. Bruschi will take the place of injured Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
Why Bruschi? It's simple, he's the best linebacker in the league who was next in line for the invitation. Just ask head coach Bill Belichick about the type of impact Bruschi has on the game. "It's huge. Bruschi is a fun player to coach. He's got great versatility, a very high level of energy and enthusiasm that he brings to the team. He's a smart player. He instinctively seems to do everything right in the right situation.
"He's a guy you want on your special teams and he's involved in a lot of situations defensively from sub defense to goal line and all the things in between."
Bruschi becomes the fifth Patriots player to be invited to Hawaii, joining Tom Brady, Larry Izzo, Richard Seymour and Adam Vinatieri for Pro Bowl honors. Izzo, also a linebacker, was selected for his abilities as a special teams ace.
Fellow teammates adore what Bruschi brings to the team as a leader and as the defensive captain.
"Obviously, Tedy is that focus point for us," linebacker Mike Vrabel said. "He's the defensive captain, he calls the signals and makes lot of huge plays. Every week, it's a pick, a fumble . . . he's going to do something. You just don't know what play it's going to be."
Patriots veteran safety Rodney Harrision thinks Bruschi belongs in the same breath as other teams Superstars. "Every one of us that lines up on the field is a superstar. He said. "You look at guys like Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi, who also dominate there positions. There are guys that stand out because they master their positions."
Obviously Bruschi has become a major factor in the Patriots defense, but what makes him tick? Bruschi had a chance to leave for greener pastures during contract negotiations, but he opted instead to stay with this team. When asked why he would make such a choice Bruschi replied:
"I was really trying to show people that there are players out there who don't care about certain things I care more about being with this team than going out and being a free agent and trying to (make more money). I wanted to let fans know that when I was a kid growing up, it really bothered me when I saw players going from team to team. I wanted to be a guy that maybe stuck with a team for an entire career."
It looks like Bruschi is finally getting his just rewards. After nine seasons with the same team, the former 3rd round draft pick out of Arizona will have more than just another Superbowl ring to show off if they Patriots win this weekend, he'll have his tickets to Hawaii as well.
Notable Bruschi moments this season:
Week 1: Intercepted Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning to snuff out a scoring drive at the Patriots 1 yard line in the first quarter of a 27-24 Patriots win.
Week 4: Sacked and forced a fumble by Buffalo Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe, resulting in a Richard Seymour recovery and romp to the end-zone to end a Bills comeback threat and effectively seal the victory.
Week 10: Intercepted Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe in Patriots territory returning the ball to the Bills 29. The return set up a score 4 plays later from Brady to Fauria, putting the Patriots up 20-0 in the second quarter and blowing the game wide open.
Week 11: Kansas City Chiefs 3rd and 1 on the New England 4 yard line, were driving for the tying score down 10-17 in the second quarter. Bruschi fills the hole stuffing Chiefs running back D Blaylock for a 1 yard loss forcing the Chiefs to settle for a field goal. The Chiefs were never in a position to tie or win the game again after that drive.
Week 12: Fourth period, 2nd and 10 Baltimore Ravens ball on their own 20, down 17-6. Bruschi beats his man to sack Boller at the 8, forcing a fumble. Bruschi tries for the recovery at the 2 and fellow Patriot defensive lineman Jarvis Green recovers the ball in the endzone, building the Patriots lead 24-3 with about 14 minutes left.
Week 14: Against the Cincinnati Bengals, Bruschi sees extensive playing time on the special teams unit. He ended the day by leading the team with 10 tackles and 4 assists. It was Bruschi's key stop of Bengals Fullback Jeremi Johnson on a 3rd and 1 at the New England 40, which ended up preventing the Bengals from tying the game at 7 in the first period. The teams alternated scores from that point on with the Patriots holding on to the victory 35-28 at the final buzzer.
Week 16: First period, New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington orchestrates a drive to midfield, and fired a pass downfield for Santana Moss. Bruschi stepped up to snag the interception and rumbled 36 yards back into Jets territory. Bruschi's play set the tone for the Patriots defense which appeared to be focused on stopping the Jets who were trying to throw the ball downfield against the Patriots linebackers.
Week 17: Bruschi leads the team in tackles with 9 solo and 6 assists. The Patriots had their scoring first streak stopped, and looked to be losing focus in this game. Bruschi's hard hitting and leadership helped the defense to regroup, stiffen up, and slow down the momentum San Francisco has established to take the early lead.
Division Playoffs: Indianapolis Colts behind 0-6 with just over 3 minutes in the 2nd quarter were moving into scoring range at the Patriots 29-yard line. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning throws to Dominic Rhodes who gets stood up 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage, but instead of tackling Rhodes, Bruschi rips the ball out of Rhodes arms for the tackle, forced fumble and fumble recovery. The teams went to the half, Patriots leading 6-3.
Same game, third quarter kickoff, Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt kicks the ball short to the up man, Bruschi. He grabs the ball and rumbles ahead for 15 yards to about midfield. Bruschi ended the day tied for second in team tackles at 8, with 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries.
AFC Championship: First quarter, 3rd and 5, Pittsburgh Steelers ball at the Patriots 43 with the Patriots leading 3-0. Running back Verron Hayes slants off tackle close to the first down, Ty Warren hits him low and Bruschi wraps him up, pushing Haynes back preventing the first down. The next play the Steelers go for it on 4th and inches, Jerome Bettis fumbles, and the Patriots recover. The Patriots went on to take advantage of their success stopping the run with their linebackers, and secured the victory to advance to the Superbowl.
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