Sunday, February 6, 2005
Linebacker joins elite company
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- New England's Mike Vrabel has become
one of the most prolific receivers in Super Bowl history.
Not bad for a linebacker.
Mike Vrabel -- usually a linebacker -- hauls in the second Super Bowl touchdown catch of his career.
Vrabel caught his second touchdown pass in the Super Bowl in two
years, helping the Patriots beat Philadelphia 24-21 on Sunday night
to repeat as NFL champions.
"I'm still trying to believe this happened again," Vrabel
said. "I didn't expect it last year and I didn't expect to do it
Vrabel's 2-yard TD catch early in the third quarter gave the
Patriots a 14-7 lead and tied him with Michael Irvin, John Taylor
and 12 others for sixth on the Super Bowl career touchdown list.
Jerry Rice tops the list with eight career TDs. John Stallworth,
Lynn Swann, Cliff Branch and Antonio Freeman are tied for second
So Vrabel is in pretty good company, especially for a
"That's a good list to be on," tight end Jed Weaver said.
"That's the epitome of this team. We put guys into position to do
Vrabel played the game of his life on sports' biggest stage in
last year's Super Bowl against Carolina. He caught a touchdown pass
late in the fourth quarter that helped the Patriots win. He also
had six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
He had two tackles and a sack Sunday -- and picked up another
Super Bowl souvenir. He kept the football from last year's game and
neatly displayed it back home in Ohio.
This one could get even more attention. After all, it was a
juggling catch and it moved him into the record books.
Vrabel had defensive end Jevon Kearse pulling at his jersey when
he tipped the pass from Tom Brady to cap the opening drive of the
second half. Then, as he was falling to the ground, Vrabel
maintained concentration and grabbed the ball.
He made a tough catch look easy.
And remember, he's a linebacker.
Veteran tight end Christian Fauria came off the field after
Vrabel's touchdown and jokingly told Weaver he was going to switch
to defense so he could score.
"That's our little joke every time Vrabel gets one," Weaver
said. "But it's all good."
Vrabel had two touchdown catches during the regular season,
including one in the finale against San Francisco. Now, he has five
career catches -- all for touchdowns.
Although receiver-turned-cornerback Troy Brown gets more
attention for playing both ways, Vrabel might be the team's most
versatile player. He makes tackles, covers receivers, rushes
quarterbacks and lines up as a tight end in goal-line situations.
"He is very adaptable," coach Bill Belichick said earlier this
A defensive end in college at Ohio State who moved to linebacker
in the NFL, Vrabel is making plans for another transition.
He returned to college last summer to complete his degree in
exercise physiology. He finished school because he wants to become
a coach after his playing days are over. He could coach offense or
defense -- or both.
"He's a baller all around," Weaver said. "He would be
successful in anything he does."