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Former Patriots had Super Sunday

There were a number of former Patriots on the field at Qualcomm Stadium last Sunday for Super Bowl XXXVII and many played key roles in the game. In fact, two former Patriots, Greg Spires and Tom Tupa, as well as two others who spent time in training camp with the team, Corey Ivy and Ryan Benjamin, will be receiving Super Bowl rings thanks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-21 domination of the Oakland Raiders.

The most notable ex-Patriot was probably Spires, Tampa's starting defensive end. Spires finished the game with three solo tackles, a sack and two passes defensed. The sack came when the former New England defensive lineman dismissed Raiders offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy and dropped Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon for a 5-yard loss in the first quarter. The end was an integral part of the Bucs dominating defensive effort that keyed the team's first Super Bowl title. Spires actually received half a vote for the game's MVP award that ended up going to Tampa free safety Dexter Jackson. In three seasons in Foxboro from 1998-2000, the 1998 third round selection started 3-of-42 games for the Patriots and tallied 47 tackles and 9.5 sacks. He was released by the Patriots prior to the 2001 season and spent that season as a Cleveland Brown.

Tupa, who punted for the Patriots for three seasons from 1996-1998 and in Super Bowl XXXI against the Packers, punted four times for 155 yards on Sunday. And while he did have one punt blocked, the ensuing score did not hurt Tampa in the long run. The 14-year veteran punter/quarterback is in his first season in Tampa and celebrated his first Super Bowl win on Sunday with the Bucs after career stops with the Cardinals, Colts, Browns, Patriots and Jets.

Tupa's long snapper, the rookie Benjamin, spent the last two seasons at Bryant College in training camp with the Patriots. He joined the Bucs part way through the season and ended up in San Diego. Benjamin snapped for five punts, three field goals, six PATs and added a special teams assisted tackle against the Raiders. Just five months after being let go at the end of training camp by the Patriots, the former South Florida player earned a ring in Tampa.

The final Super Bowl winner with a bit of Patriots blood is Bucs reserve cornerback Ivy. Ivy spent training camp 1999 in New England and a brief part of the 1999 season on the Patriots practice squad. Sunday he saw reserve action and significant special teams play. He had one tackle on defense and three on special teams.

The Oakland sideline had fewer ex-Patriots. Gannon, who completed 24-of-44 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns, was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 1987 draft by New England, but was traded a short time later to the Vikings. Gannon, who has also spent time in Washington and Kansas City, set an unfortunate Super Bowl record on Sunday with five interceptions.

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            Terrance Shaw won a Super Bowl last season as a reserve corner for the Patriots, but wasn't so lucky his second time around with the Raiders. After playing a significant role in the Oakland backfield as the team fought through injuries at corner during the regular season, Shaw saw little action in the Super Bowl. The eight-year NFL veteran finished the game with no statistics
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