Congratulations to Kevin Faulk! After a highly successful 13-year career, that saw him help the New England Patriots win three Lombardi Trophies and become one of the team's most popular and respected players, Faulk will officially be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame on August 1.
Another reason for Faulk's Hall of Fame induction is the fact that he has been highly productive when called upon and holds numerous franchise records. For instance, no player in Patriots' history has gained more all-purpose yardage than Faulk's 13,207. He has been able to do that by being a threat as a running back, pass catcher and return man.
As such, Faulk has had a lot of great moments – and we'll look at some of them right now.
Kevin Faulk as a runner: October 26, 2003
Over the course of his 13 seasons in the NFL, the former LSU standout rushed for 4,032 yards and 16 touchdowns. While Faulk has never had a 100-yard game, he came close in October 2003, when he ran for 96 yards on 23 attempts. It was the most productive rushing game of Faulk's professional career.
The yardage gained is not what made Faulk's performance noteworthy, though. It is the context of the game in which it occured in: a 9-3 defensive battle against the Cleveland Browns. Both teams struggled to consistently move the football and New England's rushing attack was quasi non-existent as the runners not named Kevin Faulk gained -2 yards on 7 attempts.
Faulk, on the other hand, stepped up that day. While he is mostly known as a 3rd down back – the passing game alternative to Antowain Smith, Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney – he had the ability to become New England's workhorse back when asked to. October 26, 2003 is a perfect example for this.
Kevin Faulk as a receiver: January 20, 2008
From a statistical perspective, Faulk has had better receiving games than the 2007 AFC Championship against the San Diego Chargers. In 2000, he caught 11 passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Two years later, he had 109 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Chicago Bears.
However, January 20, 2008 stands out because of one simple aspect: despite sharing the field with Randy Moss, Wes Welker and the other members of New England's record-breaking 2007 aerial attack, Faulk was the team's leading receiver that day with 8 catches for 82 yards.
In a game where the Patriots struggled to move the ball through the air – for the first time all season – and with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, Faulk established himself as Tom Brady's go-to-guy, accounting for 42% of the team's passing yardage that day. In a way, it was a typical Kevin Faulk day: when the team needed him to step up, he did.
Kevin Faulk as a returner: December 22, 2002
Later in his career, Faulk became more known as a prototypical receiving back; dangerous as a runner and receiver, and very good as a pass blocker. Earlier in his career, however, Faulk had one more role: kick returner. In fact, he is the Patriots' all-time leader in return yardage with a combined 5,071 yards gained.
Faulk's most productive game as a returner came in a 2002 loss against the New York Jets. The Jets kicked to Faulk seven times, and he returned those kick-offs for 220 yards (on an average of 31.4 yards per return). His first runback of the day was a 87 yard touchdown, the second and last kick-return touchdown of Faulk's career.
While his special team contributions became less over the years, they should not be forgotten as they have been an integral part of Faulk's game earlier in his career.
Other noteworthy games of Faulk's career: 2000 Patriots vs. Buccaneers (career-high 11 catches); 2002 Patriots at Bears (career-high 109 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns); 2008 Patriots at 49ers (only two rushing touchdown game of his career), 2009 Patriots vs. Bills (four 3rd down conversions).