Another slow week of NFL news, so let’s all kill some time with another moment on my countdown of the Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2022.
The list so far:
20. The Patriots trade N’Keal Harry.
19. A game-sealing Mac Jones interception is coupled with a gruesome ankle injury against the Ravens
18. Rookies step up big in relief duty against the Arizona Cardinals.
17. Hunter Henry catches/doesn’t catch a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings.
16. Nelson Agholor harnesses his inner Randy Moss with an insane 44 yard TD grab against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
At No. 15, I wanted to take a moment to honor an all-time Patriots great as he hit a pretty amazing milestone.
15. Devin McCourty registers his 200th start against the Buffalo Bills.
Individual milestones aren’t that big of a deal around One Patriot Place; we deal in championship banners and not much more, and we all understand that the team will always trump the player.
However, every once in a while, exceptions are made.
With the 27th overall pick of the 2010 draft, the New England Patriots selected Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty. McCourty was the third cornerabck off the board, behind Joe Haden at No. 7 for Cleveland and Kareem Jackson for Houston. He immediately won a starting job and made his first start on September 12 of that year, registering five tackles and one pass breakup in a 38-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He would go on to finish his rookie season with 82 combined tackles (69 solo), 17 pass deflections, seven interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a sack. He also started all 16 games that year.
184 games later, he was still there.
The New England Patriots hosted the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, December 1, 2022, a game they would go on to lose 24-10. It was, for the most part, an unspectacular game, as were the majority of the games the Pats played last year, and McCourty didn’t really show up on the stat sheet beyond his five tackles on the day. However, that Bills game represented his 200th start for this franchise, making him one of only six Patriots to eclipse the 200 game mark. That McCourty did it at the corner/safety position, as a four-down player who also contributes regularly on special teams, is nothing short of remarkable.
At McCourty’s press conference, the only active player with more Patriots starts — Matthew Slater — crashed the event, presenting McCourty with a mosaic made up of 200 smaller photos from throughout his career. Both Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick made a special point to praise McCourty — his durability, his work ethic, and his contributions to the team. The start itself came in a loss, and with so much nonsense going on this past year, it’s easy to forget just how absurd Devin McCourty was.
We never had to worry about whether or not he’d be able to go that week, and if you’ve ever watched a Sights & Sounds video on the Patriots website, you got a steady dose of McCourty getting his guys ready to run through a brick wall each and every game day.
I don’t think that Devin McCourty will ever get the full credit and recognition he fully deserves for his contributions to the Patriots during his tenure. Yes, we all know what he brought to the table, and yes, he’s a shoe-in for a red jacket as a Patriots Hall of Famer... but when you think of the most important pieces of the Patriots Dynasty 2.0, I’m not sure how much McCourty’s name will be thrown around. Between Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Dont’a Hightower, and even Malcolm Butler, it’s easy to overlook just how much McCourty meant to this defense.
Team captain, hype-up man, and quarterback of a unit that hung three banners over the last 10 years. A single-high safety that allowed New England the freedom to run wild with that linebacker/safety hybrid they’ve become known for, playing press man on the edges knowing the deep third of the field was secure. His lowest snap count of his entire career came in 2014, when he was only in on a measly 92 percent of available snaps, and he never missed a single moment to injury. Hard-hitting, instinctive, team-leading badassery is something that goes a long, long way with me, and they didn’t come much better than No. 32.
Yes, I know this isn’t a Memorable Patriots Moment in the traditional sense when it comes to this countdown. But Devin McCourty was nothing close to a traditional Patriot, and the hole he leaves in the locker room is Vince Wilfork-sized. As he transitions into a well-deserved retirement, I wanted to be sure I had the opportunity to give him one last thank you for what he did for us all during his tenure, so here we are. Honestly, I probably should have ranked this higher, but since it’s more a sentiment than an actual moment, it’s here at No. 15.
For the best six minutes you’ll spend today, click here. Not gonna lie, I choked up watching this video.