The Patriots have won four Super Bowl titles in the era of Owner Bob Kraft, Head Coach Bill Belichick and Quarterback Tom Brady. You know the story. You know the dynasty. You know the famous players like Tedy Bruschi, Adam Vinatieri, Rob Gronkowski, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork, Corey Dillon, Julian Edelman, Troy Brown and all of the rest.
I feel as someone who’s watched the Patriots all of my life, that we need to take a look back at some of the players, who we may have forgotten over the years. The players who were the foundation of those Super Bowl winning teams. The list is presented unranked and in no particular order.
I know not every player can always be thought of to be placed on this list. I know many may have some players they’d like to suggest, so feel free to join the conversation on the unsung Patriot heroes of the Patriots Dynasty and comment!
Otis Smith, #45 – CB – Super Bowl 36 Champion
I always have a special place for the Patriots who were apart of the 1996 Super Bowl 31 losing team. They worked hard in the game and ultimately special teams plays cost them the most. I was happy for every one of them who were still on the team in Super Bowl 36. Otis Smith was unreal and highly underrated. Often mentioned after Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy, Otis was an aggressive back in the secondary. He was a huge factor in the silence of the Rams offense in Super Bowl 36.
Roman Phifer, #95 -LB – Super Bowl 36, 38 & 39 Champion
Always the most overlooked linebacker from a Patriots core of Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Ted Johnson, Rosevelt Colvin and Willie McGinest. Phifer was apart of all three of the Patriots championship teams in that four year span. You can go back and see him making key tackles and assisted tackles.
David Patten, #86 – WR – Super Bowl 36, 38 & 39 Champion
That key and all reliable receiver for the Patriots, who always came through when they needed him most. The best game he ever had was receiving, rushing and passing for a TD all in a single regular season game. The greatest moment of his career was his TD catch in the first Super Bowl victory. If he didn’t catch that from Brady… we may have lost the game.
David Givens, #87 – WR – Super Bowl 38 & 39 Champion
In the end Patriots fan would turn on and quickly forget about Givens once he left for the Titans. He was though, a pivotal part of the back to back Patriot Championships. The best moment was his TD catch versus the Eagles in Super Bowl 39. The Patriots allowing him and Deion Branch to leave, may have cost them Super Bowl appearances and Super Bowl victories in general in the immediate years of 2006 and 2007 that followed.
Bobby Hamilton, #91 – DE – Super Bowl 36 & 38 Champion
The Patriots were known for their defense in 2001 and 2003. Bobby was apart of all of that. Pairing with players like Richard Seymour and Ted Washington to drive opposing offenses in panic in the trenches.
Ken Walter, #13 – P/Holder – Super Bowl 36 & 38 Champion
Adam Vinatieri may have kicked those 2 game winning field goals, but it was Walter, who too had to endure high intensity pressure in the clutch. After all, Adam V can’t win the Super Bowl without Walter holding the ball. Walter also had a strong punting game for the weakest Patriots offense of any Brady era Super Bowl team in SB36. He assured the Rams never got good strong starting field position and made sure to stick close to Adam in the moments following both clutch kicks, so to be in the photos.
Brandon Browner, #39 – CB – Super Bowl 49 Champion
Browner was a former Seahawk and knew the Seahawks offense, making him an invaluable asset in Super Bowl 49. Browner was placed on wide receiver Chris Matthews in the 4th quarter, who was hot all game to cool him down. This move put rookie Malcolm Butler into the game. In the end, it was Browner and Butler on the same side of the field. Browner was seen giving the Butler sound instruction which lead to the famous game winning interception.
Antowain Smith, #32 – RB – Super Bowl 36 & 38 Champion
Smith was the work horse of the first two Patriots Super Bowl rosters. While he was never as talented of a power back as Corey Dillon or arguably LeGarrette Blount, he was a key player who was the serviceable back they needed to win games.
Tyrone Poole, #38 – CB – Super Bowl 38 & 39 Champion
Otis Smith was gone, but in his place came Tyrone Poole. Poole was best known for his battles with Stephen Smith in Super Bowl 38. The battle was so heated that they even battled it out again the next preseason in 2004. Poole didn’t play much due to injury on the second Patriots Super Bowl but was an essential piece of the 2003 secondary.
Ted Washington, #92 – DT – Super Bowl 38 Champion
The Patriots had won Super Bowl 36 but would go on to have a poor off-season in acquiring new players and allowing free agents to walk. The result was the failure of the 2002 Patriots, who would miss the playoffs by a single game. In 2003, things were about to change. The Patriots took off-season action bringing in free agents like Harrison, Colvin, Tyrone Poole and Washington. Washington was here only one year but was to the 2003 Patriots what Vince Wilfork would go on to become. He was a major piece to the Patriots defense, which in my view was the greatest Patriots defense of ever assembled.