There are players we remember for generations who become legends and Hall of Famers. Still, many NFL players are one hit wonders that have that one magical season where they are a star, and then the star fades as quickly as it illuminated, whose star shone brightly but faded quickly. So despite the many long-term stars that have played in New England, we have our fair share of one hit wonders as well.
One Hit Wonders
The only rules for this segment are; that they cannot be currently active in the NFL (as they can have a second similar (or better) season.
A shocking 2012 season where he ran for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns. Ridley started on the right foot running for 125 yards and scoring against the Titans in Week one. He had three more 100-yard games in the first eight games as part of a 716-yard first half. He tailed off a bit but still had over 500 yards in the second half. Fumbling issues (including a crucial one in the 2012 AFC Championship) and injuries meant he could never reach those heights again.
A huge factor in our first Super Bowl appearance was that Craig James had an outstanding 1985 season resulting in his only Pro Bowl. He had 1,227 rushing yards and five touchdowns while adding 27 catches and 360 yards through the air, including the only two receiving touchdowns of his career.
He started slowly with just 294 yards rushing through six games but was on fire the rest of the way, getting 933 rushing yards in his last ten games. Then he had over 100 rushing yards in the AFC Divisional Round and the AFC Championship to send us to the Super Bowl. However, he only had one yard on five carries in the Super Bowl, and later injuries forced an early end to his career.
Came out of nowhere in his seventh NFL season insane 2016 season, where he led the league with 18 rushing touchdowns (still a Patriots record and led the league) while never having more than seven in any other season.
He was remarkably consistent in scoring touchdowns and scoring in thirteen of the Patriots’ 16 regular-season games, including the last five to help us secure the top seed in the AFC. He also ran for 1,161 yards while helping us win the Super Bowl. He played for the Eagles and Lions in his final two seasons while not reaching those heights again.
One of the biggest what could have been stories in the history of the NFL is Robert Edwards. Unfortunately, Edwards could not stay healthy either in college or in the pros. However, he managed to stay healthy in his rookie season, playing all 16 games and running for 1,115 yards and nine touchdowns while adding 35 catches for 331 yards and three touchdowns, and he was invited to the Rookie Beach Bowl.
During the Rookie Beach Bowl, he suffered a devastating leg injury (was told he may never walk again), but after missing three full seasons, he came back with Miami in 2002 but was nowhere near the same player. However, he did manage to carve out a few solid seasons in the CFL being a CFL All Star twice.
A scary reminder that careers can fall apart at any time
Banta-Cain had two stints with the Patriots. His first resulted in two Super Bowl wins but not a tremendous season, but his second stint resulted in a ten-sack 2009 season which also included 50 tackles and 12 TFLs. However, he started his fantastic season immediately, getting two sacks against the Bills, including a huge sack to secure a one-point win.
I guess he loved playing against the Bills as he also got three sacks in the other game against the Bills this season. He also showed up against the Jets getting two sacks in a 31-14 win that ended up deciding the AFC East. Unfortunately, he only played one more season before retiring.
After having just nine interceptions in his first four seasons, he had 11 (in 14 games) in 1964, which is still the Patriots record. He also made the All-Pro first team and helped the Patriots get their first ten-win season in team history with a 10-3-1 record.
One of the biggest one hit wonders of all time, he had nine career interceptions, but seven occurred in the 2011 season. He wasn’t even a full-season wonder, as all seven picks happened in the season’s first ten games. He was never the same player after that, but he will always have that one outstanding season to remember.
Another one hit wonder from our first AFC Championship season of 1985. He had seven picks in the regular season, forcing three fumbles, led the league with 189 interception return yards, and made his only Pro Bowl appearance. Still, he turned it on in the postseason, getting an interception in each of our three playoff wins, returning all three picks at least 20 yards. He had some decent seasons before and after 1985 but nothing like that season, especially that playoff run.
He had seven interceptions in his sophomore season of 1968 while making his only Pro Bowl and All-Pro Second-Team. He was on track to be a future star before a neck injury cost him the next season, and while he had a few decent seasons after that, he never had a repeat of 1968.
He had seven interceptions through his first four seasons but doubled his career total by picking off another seven in 1983. Then he played two more seasons before retiring and becoming a chiropractor.
He had one interception in his rookie year in 1962, but the trade from Houston to New England must have done the trick. He had seven interceptions, returned for 298 yards (led the AFL), had two pick-sixes (led the AFL), and one of the picks was returned for 98 yards (AFL leader for the longest return). Despite his huge season, he ended up retiring after that year and being on Major League Fishing.
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