Mr. Clutch (cont.)
Posted: Monday January 21, 2008 2:20PM; Updated: Monday January 21, 2008 3:41PM
With the Chargers' defense rolling a safety to help cover Moss, Faulk led the Patriots with eight catches for 82 yards. His most important grab came on third-and-11 from the Patriots' 24 with 7:16 remaining and the offense trying to burn clock. The 5-foot-8 Faulk left his feet to corral a pass from Brady and rolled three feet for the first down. Three plays later, Brady found Faulk for 14 yards on third-and-five and the Patriots were minutes away from their celebration.
"I remember seeing him do that kind of thing through the years when I was watching this team," said Patriots tight end Kyle Brady, who spent the previous eight seasons in Jacksonville. "There are obviously the ones that everyone [sees], but he also does it in blitz pickup and so many little things that people don't even necessarily appreciate."
In some ways, Faulk has prepared his entire life for a position of leadership. He often says that if he wasn't playing football, he'd be coaching it. Once asked to recall the most lasting memory of his life, he said it was learning of the death of an older brother, who was murdered when Faulk was in grade school.
Growing up in Carencro, La., Faulk became a standout football player, twice named the class 5A offensive most valuable player. He finished his collegiate career with the Tigers ranked fifth in NCAA history with 6,833 all-purpose yards.
As a professional. Faulk, whose early years with the Patriots were marked by fumbling problems, has steadily built up a reservoir of trust. He has become so versed with the levers of the Patriots' system that coach Bill Belichick has deployed him in various roles. Though not an every-down back, Faulk was voted an offensive captain before the season.
"Special teams, pass protection, running the ball, catching it, third downs, other downs," Belichick says. "He's been a downfield receiver, third-down receiver, screens, draws. Even though he's not one of the highest play-time players, I think when he's in there he's very productive and he's one of the most respected players."
Faulk says he doesn't begrudge his hard-hat living, grinding out yards on third down, laying blocks on blitzing linebackers.
"Real simple," Faulk says of his philosophy. "Be prepared no matter what the situation is."
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