Remembering Kevin Faulk

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Remembering Kevin Faulk

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.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Injury report: Amendola out for Ravens game, Bennett questionable

Injury report: Amendola out for Ravens game, Bennett questionable

Wide receiver Danny Amendola was officially listed as out on the injury report for the Patriots' Monday night home game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Amendola injured his ankle on a punt return against the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. It will be the first game he's missed this season. The Patriots signed veteran wide receiver and kick returner Griff Whalen during the week.

Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder) is among the Pats listed as questionable, along with special teams ace Matt Slater (foot), who missed the Rams game, safety Jordan Richards (knee), linebacker Elandon Roberts (hamstring) and cornerback Eric Rowe (hamstring).

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

FOXBORO – Griff Whalen was at the epicenter of one of the stupidest, funniest, most “did that just happen?!” plays in NFL history.

So indescribable it never even really earned a name, it was the fourth-down gadget play the Colts tried to run against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football in the first meeting between the teams after Indy ran to the principal’s office to start Deflategate. 

Whalen was the center on that play (I tried to call it “Fourth-and-Wrong” but it didn’t take) and the millisecond between him snapping the ball and the three players processing that the ball had indeed been snapped is perhaps my favorite moment of the past several seasons. 

Whalen is a Patriot now, brought in this week in the wake of Danny Amendola’s knee injury presumably to fill Amendola’s role as a punt returner and wideout. The Colts released him last January, the Dolphins picked him up and cut him at the end of training camp and the Chargers had him on their roster from mid-September until releasing him last month after eight games, two catches and 22 yards. He returned kickoffs for San Diego but no punts since 2015.

The primary area of need for the Patriots is on punt returns. Rookie Cyrus Jones’ transition to appearing comfortable remains glacially slow. It was Jones’ muff last week that brought on Amendola in relief. When Amendola hurt his ankle on a late-game return, the Patriots were forced to decide between Jones, wideout Julian Edelman (who doesn’t need extra work) and making a move.

Whalen is a move they made.

The slight and baby-faced Whalen indicated he had fielded some punts in practice, saying it went, “Fine.” Punt returns are something he’s done “since I was a kid.”

His first impression of the team was, "A lot of what I expected to see. A lot of detail. A lot of effort in practice. Good coaching all-around. I am excited to be here. I was excited to come into a good team that I’d gone against a few times. Hopefully come in and help out the team with whatever I can.”

I asked Whalen if he saw much of the commentary or creativity last year’s failed play spawned.

“I wasn’t paying too much attention,” he said. “When it’s during the season guys are pretty locked in on what they’re doing inside the building. But I heard more about it later on afterwards.”

Asked if he’d heard anything about the play since being here, Whalen replied, “I haven’t. Kinda was [expecting it].”

The Patriots will be hoping Whalen remains as productive for them on fourth down this year as he was in 2015.