The Patriots’ special teams play has been phenomenal this year, and it’s captain got league-wide recognition this week.
Matthew Slater has been the unsung hero for the New England Patriots for the majority of the last decade and is a perfect example of why special teams are so important in the NFL. In the Patriots’ week 12 game against the Dallas Cowboys, Slater made the play of the game by blocking a punt early in the first quarter and the Patriots recovered the loose ball on the Cowboys’ 12 yard line. This play led to the only touchdown of the game when Tom Brady found N’Keal Harry up the sideline for his first touchdown of the season, and it earned Matthew Slater the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award.
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This is the third week this season that a Patriot has won this award this season, the other two both being won by rookie punter, Jake Bailey. The Patriots are the most detail oriented team in football, and their special teams play has not only led to turnovers and even some touchdowns, but they do a great job of setting themselves up with great field position or pinning opposing offenses back deep in their own territory. Slater was drafted out of UCLA back in 2008 as a receiver but has made quite the career out of being the “X Factor” for New England’s special teams’ unit.
Slater is a seven time pro-bowler and is the best special teamer in football. Special teams is generally for guys who are not good enough to get on the field at their true position, but Slater decided to make to the most of the opportunity that was given to him when he arrived in New England. He has been a team captain in New England for nine straight seasons because he is a perfect example of what a professional in the NFL should be. It’s not very common for special teams players to get brought up in Hall of Fame conversations, but Slater has worked his way into that conversation.