FOXBORO, MA — He’s not a big name guy, but Troy Brown is certainly playing pretty big for the Patriots these days.
Brown, who like quarterback Drew Bledsoe came out in the 1993 draft, now joins Bledsoe as one of the longest-running members of the Patriots. He has grown over the years as a player and has established himself as one of the best receivers in the NFL.
He currently leads all receivers for New England with 85-catches for 1033-yards along with 5-touchdown catches. With his 7-catch, 89-yard performance on Sunday he surpassed his old career-high marks of 83-catches and 944-yards that he set last season, and is making a pretty good case for himself to be selected for the Pro Bowl.
He is currently 13 catches away from breaking Ben Coates’ mark for catches by a Patriots player in a season. Coates had a club record 96 receptions in 1994, and it appears that Brown has a good chance of surpassing it.
But despite breaking the 1000-yard mark for the first time in his career, that’s the farthest thing from Brown’s mind. His team currently is sitting at 8-5 with three games to go, and they now appear poised to make a return to the postseason, a place they haven’t been in over three years.
“To tell you the truth, I’m not even excited about that,” said Brown about his achievement on Sunday. “I’m more excited about our team [record]. We’re 8-5 and that’s the biggest issue that I’m dealing with right now.”
“I knew it in training camp that we were going to be a good football team. It just didn’t happen right away. We’re 8-5 and we’re in good position to win the AFC East. I don’t like to look too far down the road, so right now, my focus is going to Buffalo.”
For head coach Bill Belichick, he says that Brown has come along way from back when he was here with him in 1996.
“He just keeps on trucking,” said Belichick. “I mean I think Troy is a good football player. He was pretty good when I was here in ’96, but I really think that he has gotten a lot better.”
“He has got great quickness and he has tremendous confidence in his hands. He will put his hands out there and catch any ball away from his body, which not all receivers will do.”
“He can make guys miss. He has got probably as good as strength for his size as anybody does. [He] runs well after the catch and he has tremendous confidence and obviously, the quarterbacks have a lot of confidence in him and not to mention the coaches.”
Brown also came up big on Sunday against the Browns on special teams, including an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown. It’s an area that he says he enjoys the most, and he also feels the best part about playing special teams is the rush he gets when he’s on the field.
“It’s just the rush, man,” said Brown. “You’ve got 10 or 11 guys coming down the field just to cream you.”
“It’s pretty much like you feel like it’s you against them. But like I said, today my guys did a great job up there in front of me. Maybe it’s just the rush that makes it so exciting for me and being able to make some guys miss in the open field and kind of embarrass them a little bit. That’s what’s exciting to me.”
New England is fortunate in that they’ll have Brown around for quite a while. When he became a free agent after the ’99 season, they re-signed him to a five-year deal which will keep him in a Patriots uniform through 2004. The former 8th round pick out of Marshall says he is his own worst critic, and that he always feels he can improve.
“I’m probably my worst critic,” said Brown. “Everybody’s saying that I had a great game today, but I thought it was just good.”
“I’m my worst critic and I saw a lot of things that I thought I could have done better today. I think that’s what keeps me going.”
With the Buffalo Bills up next, New England finds themselves with a very important game that will have an effect on how their season goes. The Patriots can’t afford to lose this game especially with Miami coming up the week after. Should they drop those two games it could have a devastating effect on their chances of not only winning their division, but it could also hurt their chances at a playoff berth.
“Buffalo bothers me a lot, because they’ve lost some close games,” said Brown. “They’ve played hard for all four quarters, and just didn’t get the right bounces.”
“They’re like we were last year, just not getting the right bounces. They’ve played great. They have a great defensive team and they just haven’t been lucky this year.”
“Who knows what the weather’s going to be like there? It could be like it was last year [a blizzard]. We could be in another dogfight again, trying to make a 10-yard field goal. We know it’s going to be a tough game up there.”
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