What Made Mike Vrabel Special in New England

Mike Vrabel

Getty Mike Vrabel caught touchdowns in two-straight Super Bowls

Mike Vrabel spent eight seasons with the New England Patriots, collecting three Super Bowl rings and All-Pro accolades along the way.

Widely admired for his high intelligence on and off the field, it’s no wonder Vrabel is already having success as a head coach. In New England, he ran the defense as the signal-caller on the field and was constantly helping players improve.

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His versatility spoke for itself, seeing Vrabel line up in several different defensive positions. But what most Patriots’ fans remember: his touchdown catches.


Tight Spot, Tight End

Vrabel is the only player in NFL history to have 10 catches and all of them go for touchdowns. And that’s just in the regular season.

He was targeted 12 times over the course of his NFL career, reeling in 10 passes in the endzone for a grand total of 14 yards receiving. He had three TDs alone in the 2005 season for four yards.

Those aren’t the catches that stand out. It’s the two Super Bowl touchdowns that make Mike Vrabel such a special player. In back-to-back years, Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX, Vrabel caught a meaningful touchdown for the Patriots.

His Super Bowl XXXVIII catch against the Panthers came with the Patriots trailing late in the fourth quarter. That’s what you call confidence right there. Vrabel, who had just one catch in his entire NFL career up to that point, lined up as a tight end in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl with his team trailing.


Super Bowl XXXVIII Recap: Panthers vs. Patriots | NFLTom Brady & the Patriots were on a mission to prove their defeat of the Rams in 2001, was not a fluke, but the beginning of something great. Carolina, making the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history, weren't going to yield ground to the Super Bowl XXXVI champions. Subscribe to NFL: j.mp/1L0bVBu…2016-02-01T19:30:53.000Z

A linebacker made one of the best offensive plays of Super Bowl XXXVIII. He did so again the next year against Philadelphia. He had caught two touchdowns during the regular season and managed to shake off a defensive pass interference to make a juggling touchdown grab.


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That one came with the game tied early in the third quarter. Still an incredible spot to put a guy like Vrabel into, but unsurprisingly he didn’t disappoint.


Ball Hawk

Vrabel didn’t just show his quick hands on offense. Defensively is where Vrabel clearly had a nose for the ball.

In his time with the Patriots, Vrabel had 13 forced fumbles, eight recoveries, and 11 interceptions. One of those picks in 2005 went for a touchdown off Jake Delhomme and Carolina.

Getting to the quarterback was also his specialty.

Vrabel recorded 48 sacks in New England, including a career-high 12.5 in 2007 and 9.5 in 2003. He also set a career-high in QB Hits in 2007 with 17.

As an outside linebacker, he did well to seal off the run too. His 55 tackles for a loss with the Patriots were remarkable for a linebacker like Vrabel who would variable drop into coverage or, on occasion, stay in the box.

His Super Bowl XXXVIII defensive performance could have earned him MVP honors. In addition to the touchdown, he collected two sacks and six tackles while also forcing a fumble.

He had six tackles again in the following Super Bowl along with a fumble recovery.

Vrabel was a big-time player in New England but his versatility is unlike any other player in franchise history.