Today in Patriots History
Happy 70th birthday Sam Hunt
Born August 6, 1951 in Longview, Texas
Patriot ILB, 1974-1979; uniform #50
Pats 15th round (374th overall) selection of the 1974 draft, from Stephen F Austin University
Sam Hunt started all but two games during his six years with the Patriots. He is the right inside linebacker, next to Steve Nelson, on the Patriots All-Decade Team of the 1970s.
Hunt played in 84 games for the Pats, plus two more in the playoffs. He had six fumble recoveries and seven interceptions, including one for a touchdown - that saved the 1976 Pats from what would have been an embarrassing loss.
Read the game-by-game narrative of how the 1976 New England Patriots surged into contention before a bad call undid their hopes.
Dec 12, 1976:
Patriots 31, Buccaneers 14 | BucPower.com
Ending their first National Football League season with as many victories as they began, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers achieved perfect imperfection Sunday in a 31-14 loss to the New England Patriots. It was the 14th consecutive Sunday without a victory for the Bucs, setting an NFL record for imperfection.
But in doing so, the playing with a roster that has been changed more than 50 per cent since the season began because of injuries, gave the playoff-bound and now 11-3 Patriots a run for their pride in front of 41,517 Tampa Stadium customers.
The Bucs led 14-7 late in the third period on Ed Williams' 17-yard touchdown run and Steve Spurrier's 27-yard scoring toss to Morris Owens, but the Patriots revived themselves in time to score 24 points and dish out a few insults along the way to victory.
Andy Johnson's nine-yard run with 4:59 left in the third period tied the score at 14. Then linebacker Sam Hunt, who wasn't supposed to play because of a pulled hamstring, intercepted a Spurrier pass and returned it 68 for a touchdown with 6: 15 to play in the fourth period to boost New England into a 21-14 lead.
John Smith's 30-yard field goal made it 24-14 with 2:41 to play and the Patriots twisted the knife when they called time out with six seconds to play so quarterback Steve Grogan could score from a yard out. Grogan's touchdown run gives him 12 for the season, breaking the previous NFL mark for most touchdowns rushing in a season by a quarterback held by Tobin Rote and Johnny Lujack. On top of that, the Patriots allowed linebacker Steve Zabel, who fancies himself a place-kicker but did no kicking all year, to kick the extra point.
But there were no complaints about the last-second touchdown from Bucs' Head Coach John McKay, who out his first season in the NFL without a victory: "That doesn't bother me," 'an unusually perturbed McKay 'said after the game.
New England Coach Chuck Fairbanks apologized to McKay at midfield when it was over. McKay's mood was more a result of his own team's imperfection when it could have had the game safely in hand by halftime. Twice in the first half the Bucs put together long drives and were less than 10 yards from scoring when fumbles stopped them without a point.
That the Bucs' defense, hit hardest by the injury epidemic, could hold the Patriots' offense to only seven points for the better part of three periods, was a major accomplishment. That score was a 69-yard touchdown run by Johnson in the second period. Johnson gained 127 yards on 14 carries and scored twice for the Patriots, who used fullback Sam Cunningham sparingly because of a bruised shoulder.
The Patriots, as the American Football Conference wild-card team, travel to Oakland next week for the first round of the playoffs against the Raiders. New England's 11-3 record a complete reversal of last year's 3-13 mark. Should the Bucs be able to pull such a reversal next season, they would be 14-0. But right now, one win would be an improvement. Says McKay, "I think I'll take some time off and go hide somewhere"'[/INDENT]
Sept 5, 2004: Catching up with Sam Cunningham | Boston.com
Question: HARDEST HITTER YOU PLAYED AGAINST:
Answer: Sam Hunt
From page 20 of the 1979 New England Patriots Media Guide:
"Big Backer" continued to surprise NFL observers this past season with his ability to move his large frame swiftly against opponents' ground attacks . . . contributed 60 tackles as a dominant factor in Patriots run defense and on several occasions ran down Earl Campbell from behind on sweep plays in the two 1978 meetings between the Patriots and Oilers . . . his 56 tackles in 1977 and great inside teamwork with Steve Nelson was a key factor in the team's number one ranking among AFC run defenses that year . . . his 68 yard interception return versus Tampa was the NFL's third longest of the year and a highlight of his great 1976 season . . . second leading tackler on the Pats in 1975 with 99 stops and tops among the club's inside linebackers in 1974 with 74 tackles . . . was the major surprise of the 1974 draft, stepping into a starting role in the new 3-4 alignment and then gaining All-Rookie Team with Pro Football Weekly and Football Digest . . . also named Rookie of the Year by the 1776 Fan Club . . . four year starter in college and was team co-captain as a senior . . . averaged ten tackles a game in each of his 35 collegiate contests . . . is an avid fisherman
Nov 23, 2001:
Article profiles Leon Gray, top offensive lineman who played for New England Patriots; Gray died in November; photo (M)
The Ultimate Player Draft: A Look at Their Player Selection by Range | boston.com