Welcome to another edition of Musket Fire’s Remembering the Patriot series in which the writer draws a random 21st century New England Patriots player from memory and remembers his contributions to the franchise. This morning, we’re taking a look back at the career of former Patriots running back Antowain Smith.
After four up-and-down years with the Buffalo Bills, Smith joined the Patriots in 2001. It was easily the best decision Smith made in his career. Immediately, Smith made contributions to his new team, rushing for career highs in yards (1,157) and touchdowns (12). Smith also caught 19 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown that year. His season was highlighted by a 156-yard rushing effort in Week 16 against the Miami Dolphins.
Smith kept up the good work in the 2001 playoffs, accumulating 205 yards from scrimmage against the Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Rams. In his fifth season, Smith corralled his first Super Bowl ring.
In what was a frustrating season for the entire Patriots team, 2002 saw Smith fall short of the 1,000-yard rushing mark by just 18 yards. He exploded for 111 yards and a touchdown against his former Bills teammates in Week 8.
Smith’s workload decreased in 2003, as evidenced by his 642 yards on the ground. His best game came in Week 16 against the New York Jets when he ripped off 121 yards in a 21-16 Patriots victory.
However, Smith exploded in the postseason, racking up 252 yards in three games en route to a second Super Bowl ring. Smith scored in the Divisional Round, hit the century mark in rushing yards in the AFC Championship, and reached the end zone in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
During the 2004 offseason, Smith’s time in New England came to a close when he signed with the Tennessee Titans.
He is remembered in Patriots’ fan lore as one of the veteran running backs in the early 2000s who salvaged his career by coming to New England and earning a ring (two actually). The other was Corey Dillon, of course.
In case you missed them, here are recent installments in our Remembering the Patriot series.
Be sure to check back tomorrow morning as we remember the career of former Patriots defensive tackle Ted Washington.