Critics will tell you Richard Seymour didn’t have the numbers for the Hall of Fame.
But when it came to the numbers that mattered, he had more than enough to back up the argument that his impending enshrinement in Canton is deserved. In six of his eight seasons with the Patriots, he made some sort of All-Pro team, including first-team AP All-Pro on three occasions. In all, he made some sort of All-Pro team in eight of his 12 years in the league.
The true measure of Seymour’s greatness was more than just numbers; he could have been stationed at defensive end, told to rush the passer, and finished his career with somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 sacks. He would have sailed into Canton on that alone.
But Bill Belichick had bigger plans. While Seymour finished his Patriots career with 39 sacks, his versatility allowed New England to do more on defense. He was a chess piece who was pretty much immovable wherever the Patriots ended up sticking him. He could play defensive end, defensive tackle, or even nose guard; it didn’t matter whether Belichick utilized a 3-4 or 4-3. Seymour flourished wherever he landed.
“Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork are the two best defensive linemen I have coached,” Belichick wrote to the Hall of Fame Selection Committee in 2019. “Seymour was unquestionably one of our key players, and I do not believe we would have won three championships without him.”
Here are Seymour’s 10 most memorable games with the Patriots:
Dec. 9, 2001
Belichick said this game had one of the plays that stood out the most in Seymour’s career. The rookie, part of the punt-return unit that afternoon against the Browns, delivered a thunderous block on Cleveland punter Chris Gardocki, springing Troy Brown for an 85-yard touchdown that helped push the Patriots to a 27-16 win.
“You don’t see a lot of defensive tackles on the punt-return unit,” Belichick said in 2021, when Seymour was entering the Patriots Hall of Fame. “Those plays kind of stood out for me because they are just a little more unusual.”
Jan. 19, 2002
Over his career, Seymour showed a knack for making big plays at the most important moments.
On the night of the AFC divisional playoff against the Raiders, the rookie made a key stop with just over two minutes left, bringing down Zack Crockett short of the sticks on third and 1. He helped force a punt that New England eventually turned into the most memorable game-tying field goal in franchise history. Seymour finished the game with five tackles and a pass defended.
Feb. 3, 2002
Again, Seymour wasn’t necessarily responsible for the biggest play of the night, but a third-quarter sack of Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXVI helped stall a St. Louis drive. He ended the game with a sack and three tackles (two for loss) and the first of three Super Bowl rings.
Dec. 8, 2002
Seymour had two career interceptions. This first was in this game, and it came at the expense of Drew Bledsoe in a 27-17 win over the Bills at Gillette Stadium.
Oct. 19, 2003
Seymour blocked four field-goal attempts over his career, including one this afternoon against Miami’s Olindo Mare with two minutes left that would have likely clinched the win for the Dolphins.
“Some guy, you put him on [kick block], he’s tired, he figures he can take a play off,” Belichick said. “Richard always gives you the effort.”
In overtime, Tom Brady hit Troy Brown with the game-winner, breaking a run of Patriots futility on South Beach.
Mare had issues kicking on the baseball dirt, which was still there because the Marlins were in the World Series against the Yankees. Told this after the game, Seymour said, “Go Marlins!”
Dec. 14, 2003
The week before this game, Seymour missed two days of practice to go home to South Carolina for his grandfather’s funeral, an infraction that led Belichick to bench him for the start of the game. Belichick put him in against the Jaguars with nine minutes left in the first half, and Seymour wreaked all sorts of havoc, finishing with seven tackles and a sack.
After the game, Seymour was asked about what happened.
“I don’t hold any grudges or any hard feelings,” he said. “Coach has to do what a coach has to do. I’m human and he’s human. I don’t view him differently.”
Jan. 18, 2004
You look at the box score, and Seymour’s stat line — three tackles, one pass defense — doesn’t stand out. But a rewatch shows his impact.
The Colts’ focus was on slowing Seymour. They frequently double-teamed and chip-blocked him. That left teammate Jarvis Green in one-on-one situations. Green became the first player to sack Peyton Manning three times in one game.
When Seymour did get free, he was one of a handful of front-seven defenders who harassed Manning into bad decisions, leading to three interceptions by Ty Law.
Oct. 3, 2004
With just over two minutes left and the Bills driving for a game-tying touchdown, Seymour and Tedy Bruschi teamed for the game-deciding play.
Bruschi sacked Drew Bledsoe and forced a fumble, while Seymour scooped up the ball and rumbled 68 yards for a touchdown. It gave the Patriots their 18th straight win, and gave Seymour a rare chance to visit the end zone.
What was it like scoring a touchdown? “A lot of sucking air,” Seymour said, laughing. “I just kept running.”
Feb. 6, 2005
Another Super Bowl, another sack for Seymour, this one coming against Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb.
The 24-21 victory over the Eagles was the third title in four years for Seymour, and capped a memorable season in which he was named a first-team All-Pro (Associated Press), and was similarly honored by The Sporting News and Pro Football Writers.
Sept. 25, 2005
On an afternoon when New England lost multiple starters on defense to injury, it was the performance of Seymour that helped get them through, as he finished with two sacks, four solo tackles, and three tackles for loss in a dramatic 23-20 road win over the Steelers.
Christopher Price can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.