When I think back on Kevin Faulk's career, there's one play that always stands out.
And you can probably guess which one I'm talking about.
It's the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXXVIII, 2:51 on the clock, and Tom Brady just hit Mike Vrabel for a one-yard touchdown to give the Pats a 28-22 lead.
At this point, they need a two-point conversion. They REALLY need a two-point conversion. As evidenced by the fact that their defense had given up touchdowns on consecutive possessions and showed no signs of being able to slow down the Panthers attack.
Brady lines up in the shotgun, with Faulk with him in the backfield. Hut. Hut. HIKE. No. 33 steps in front of the snap, grabs the ball and shoots himself into the end zone. Conversion good. 29-22, Pats.
Of course, the Panthers responded with an easy touchdown 80 yards, on seven plays to tie the score with 1:08 left. And of course, thanks to John Kasay, Brady, Troy Brown, Deion Branch and Adam Vinatieri, the Pats ultimately won the game anyway. But if not for Faulk's conversion, who knows what would have happened. The dynamics would have changed and it wouldn't have been in the Pats favor.
And here's my favorite part about that play: It was the only time all year that Kevin Faulk found the end zone. This despite a season where he ran for a career high 638 yards on a career-high 178 carries, and caught 48 balls for another 440 yards. He had zero points. That is, until it was all on the line; when a play had to be made.
That was Kevin Faulk. And while this one two-point conversion barely scrapes the surface of everything he did for the Patriots on and off the field for 13 years, it's a fitting microcosm of how much he means to New England and how he'll be remembered through the annals of Patriots history.
To be honest, it's hard to get too choked up about Faulk walking away. We've known that it was coming for a while, and no one can disagree that the time is right. At some point, every one has to say goodbye. But Faulk does it with his head held high, on a fast track to the Patriots Hall of Fame.