New England Patriots: Tom Brady’s 10 Most Obscure Pass Catchers
Tom Brady's 10 Most Obscure Pass Catchers
You may not have realized it, but in the first quarter of the New England Patriots’ 55-34 November 3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tom Brady completed his 343rd career touchdown pass. Now that figure might not sound superbly significant (although it kept him neck-and-neck with Drew Brees for fourth all-time, and 165 behind the quarterback at the top in Brett Favre), but the pass’ recipient, Danny Amendola, became the 50th player to receive a touchdown pass from the future Hall-of-Famer. Overall, there have also been 82 Patriots who have caught a single pass from Brady.
Brady’s first ever completion was a three-yard hookup to (drum roll please) Rod Rutledge in a forgettable 34-9 November 2000 loss at the Detroit Lions. Brady’s first trip for six was on a 21-yard pass to 1996’s no. 6 overall pick in Terry Glenn. That hookup from the former Wolverine to the former Ohio State Buckeye came in New England’s 29-26 overtime win over the San Diego Chargers on October 14, 2001, en route to a Patriots Super Bowl XXXVI triumph.
This is an ode to those 82 -- the most obscure receivers of Tom Brady’s career. These targets of Brady come in all shapes, sizes and positions: deep threats that stretch the field and slot guys who roam underneath; bouldering offensive linemen who weigh three bills and players whose designated craft comes on the other side of the ball; dependable 10-year vets and unreliable rookies who can’t seem to run the correct routes; top draft picks from traditional college football powers and an undrafted running back from a nowhere Division 2 school.
10. Bryan Cox
Just under two minutes before Brady’s first-ever touchdown pass, the quarterback completed a seven-yard pass to the veteran linebacker. It was the only reception during Cox’s 12-year career. He now serves on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a “Pass Rush Specialist.”
Catches from Brady: 1; Yards: 7
9. Austin Collie
The former BYU Cougar has been lucky enough to play with the two best quarterbacks in this generation in Brady and Peyton Manning, but concussions have unfortunately impacted Collie’s career. However, he did play a vital role in the Patriots’ 30-27 win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 6, catching two passes on New England’s game-winning drive.
Catches from Brady: 3; Yards: 34
8. Tiquan Underwood
One of many players who have come out of Bill Belichick’s Triple-A program (Rutgers University), Underwood is famous for three things while in New England: his trademark high-top, being the subject of a Brady tirade on the sidelines in 2011, and being cut 24 hours before Super Bowl XLVI. Underwood has now made a name for himself under former coach at Rutgers Greg Schiano in Tampa.
Catches from Brady: 3; Yards: 30
7. James Develin
What makes the latest player to sport a neck guard no. 7 on this list is that he is a converted defensive end by way of Brown University (surprisingly the alma mater of two current NFL players: Develin and the New York Giants’ Zak DeOssie), and that he plays at the NFL’s most unused position: fullback.
Catches from Brady: 2; Yards: 19
6. Isaiah Stanback
Stanback played running back at the University of Washington, wide receiver in his one NFL pit stop before New England, and was signed as a quarterback by the Patriots before the infamous “fourth-and-two” game versus the Indianapolis Colts in 2009. In Foxboro, Stanback hauled in three passes from Brady, but was also subject to scrutiny from the higher powers of the league. League officials deemed Stanback a wide receiver while New England had him listed as a quarterback, and after that heartbreaking loss in Indy, Stanback had to change his number from no. 9 to 15 because receivers cannot wear numbers in the single digits.
Catches from Brady: 3; Yards: 22
5. Matthew Mulligan
Many Patriots fans were asking “Who is this Mulligan guy?” after the tight end’s touchdown gave the Patriots the lead earlier this year at the Atlanta Falcons. He must be some rookie free-agent they picked off the scrapheap, right? Wrong. Mulligan is a fifth-year vet from Enfield, Maine (population: 1,607).
Catches from Brady: 1; Yards: 1; Touchdowns: 1
4. Amos Zereoue
You may know Amos Zereoue as Jerome Bettis’ backup in Pittsburgh, but he also caught a single pass from Brady during the tail end of 2005. The running back was actually productive while catching Kordell Stewart passes out of the backfield during his time in the Steel City, hauling in 137 catches over five seasons. Today, Zereoue owns and operates a West African/French Fusion restaurant in Manhattan called Zereoue’s.
Catches from Brady: 1; Yards: 7
3. Dan Klecko
The defensive tackle caught three Brady passes during his two Super Bowl-winning years as a Patriot. Another interesting tidbit about Klecko is that he is one of five players to catch a ball from Brady and Peyton Manning. The other four? Austin Collie, Wes Welker, Torrence Small, and Jermaine Wiggins.
Catches from Brady: 3; Yards: 18
2. Kellen Winslow Jr.
The soldier from “The U” has 456 receptions over his nine years as a pro. 99.8 percent of those come from quarterbacks not named Tom Brady. The only Brady-to-Winslow connection came in the Patriots’ 31-30 loss at the Baltimore Ravens in 2012.
Catches from Brady: 1; Yards: 12
1. Mike Vrabel
Vrabel must be the most reliable receiver in NFL history when it comes to plays on the one-yard line. Including the playoffs, Vrabel caught a grand total of 10 passes from Brady. Those 10 plays equated to 14 yards and 10 touchdowns. Two even came in the Super Bowl. Not too shabby for the former All-Pro linebacker and member of Sports Illustrated’s “All-Decade Team.” Vrabel now is an assistant coach at his alma mater, Ohio State.
Catches from Brady: 10; Yards: 14; Touchdowns: 10
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