There was nothing normal about the 2020 season for the Patriots. COVID protocols threw everyone for a loop, New England included, and for the first time since 2008 the team failed to win the AFC East title and earn a postseason berth. But despite the disappointment of those two facts, there was plenty to look back on and remember about the 2020 season, so here's a look back at everything that was memorable through our annual Lighthouse Awards.
The versatile back was the team's best player before he was lost to a torn ACL in a November loss in Houston. An already limited offense really struggled without him.
Offensive Player of the Year
Averaged 5 yards per carry after replacing Sony Michel as the lead back in October. His steady production was key for the struggling offense.
Defensive Player of the Year
Jackson finished second in interceptions in the NFL with nine and made huge strides as a regular in the starting lineup. He's a restricted free agent worth keeping.
Special Teams Player(s) of the Year
Nick Folk / Jake Bailey
Hard to imagine where the Patriots would have been without their kickers. Folk finished the season by making his last 26 field goals while the Pro Bowler Bailey was the best punter in football.
Rookie of the Year
Stepped in and played multiple positions at a high level for an offensive line that performed well all season.
Like Burkhead, Meyers did most of his damage in three quarters of a season. After a slow start, Meyers led the Patriots with 59 catches for 729 yards and was Cam Newton's main target.
Best Play of the Year
Jakobi Meyers TD pass to Rex Burkhead
The former college quarterback dusted off his throwing arm and hit Burkhead with a perfect bomb during a Sunday night monsoon against Baltimore.
Worst Play of the Year
Cam Newton's late fumble in Buffalo
The Patriots were driving for a tying field (or perhaps more) in the waning seconds when Newton lost the ball and the game.
Comeback Player of the Year
After missing the 2019 season due to blood clots, the captain solidified the interior of the offensive line and showcased his leadership throughout a trying season.
Crown Jules Award
Julian Edelman's catch at Seattle
For one brief half in Seattle the Patriots passing looked dynamic. That was most evident with Edelman's career night highlighted by his diving 49-yard catch on a bomb from Newton.
All in the Family Award
Devin McCourty pick-6 in Seattle
James White suffered through an unthinkable family tragedy while his teammates took on the Seahawks. When D-Mac opened the scoring with a pick-6, he offered a special message to his grieving teammate.
Super Charged Award
Special teams in Los Angeles
Many Happy Returns Award
Olszewski's great work wasn't reserved for just the Chargers. He led the league with a 17.3-yard average on punt returns and earned first-team All-Pro honors.
Guardians at the Gate Award
Goal line stand vs. Arizona
The Cardinals needed less than a yard for a touchdown on the final play of the first half. They went to the locker room still looking for the end zone after a spirited goal line stand by the Patriots.
Media Relations Department
As Zoom calls, Webex and other virtual meetings became commonplace in 2020, the Patriots media relations department, coaching staff and players made sure it all worked well.
Big Papi Award
Nick Folk's Walk-Off FGs
Like the famed Red Sox slugger, Folk sent everyone home happy when he connected on 50- and 51-yard field goals to beat the Jets and Cardinals.
Old School Award
Newton may not have had a great year throwing the ball but his Steve Grogan-like toughness was on display as he matched the former Patriots quarterback's franchise mark for rushing touchdowns by a QB with 12.
Cal Ripken Award
In five years with the Patriots, Thuney has barely missed a play let alone a game. The old-school, throwback guard enjoyed his finest season in 2020, even adding some time at center to his resume, and will be a hot commodity on the free agent market in the spring.
Practice Makes Perfect Award
The expanded practice squads and relaxed rules allowed teams to better utilize their personnel, and few took more advantage of the added opportunities than Hall, who carved out a role as a thumping run-stuffing LB.
Feels Like the First Time Award
The fun-loving defensive end picked up the first touchdown of his career when he recovered a fumble in the end zone against the Raiders.
Over 40 Club Award
Cam Newton (49), Sony Michel (48) and Damien Harris (41) all turned in runs of better than 40 yards on the season, giving a big-play element to the Patriots ground game.
Flying High Award
Damiere Byrd TD in Houston
The longest touchdown of the season belonged to Byrd, who caught a 42-yard bomb from Newton in Houston while reaching back over his inside shoulder.
Best Kept Secret Award
We learned a lot about Ernie Adams through the Do Your Job feature on Patriots.com but Pink Stripes is still a mystery.
Tough Guy Award
The first-time captain enjoyed a solid season along the interior defensive line for the defense, and battled through several injuries along the way.
In rain that seemed to intensify when the Ravens had the ball late, the Patriots posted their most impressive win of the season on a Sunday night in Foxborough.
Not Your Average Jump Award
Dugger's ascension from Division-II Lenoir-Rhyne was an impressive one as the versatile safety made huge strides as the season progressed, operating around the line of scrimmage and in coverage as a more traditional safety. His athleticism is noticeable.
Energizer Bunny Award
It was an up-and-down season for Winovich in terms of playing time but few would ever question his effort. Winovich always plays like his luxurious golden locks are on fire.
Little Big Man Award
Taylor may be small in stature but his explosiveness was apparent when he got a chance to carry the ball. For you old-timers, Taylor is reminiscent of 1970s standout Mack Herron.
Undrafted Rookie of the Year
The Patriots always have one, and this year it was Bryant. The rookie out of Washington worked his way into the lineup as the season progressed and turned in a superb interception against the Rams in Los Angeles.
Reach Out and Touch Someone Award
When the Patriots coach lost a challenge during a Monday night game against Buffalo he jumped on the phone to let someone know he didn't appreciate the bad advice. No word on the status of that phone after Belichick tossed it.
Better Late Than Never Award
Devin Asiasi TD against Jets
The rookie tight end was injured and wasn't much of a factor all season. But he did open some eyes with a nice 26-yard touchdown catch in the finale against the Jets.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Award
Cam Newton's Wardrobe
Fans in New England were treated to a whole new set of fashion watching Newton walk into the stadium each week. Some were more memorable than others.
Return on Investment Award
For about half a season Belichick poked and prodded the members of his return teams, seemingly looking for more. His persistence paid off down the stretch when Donte Moncrief and Olszewski ripped off some lengthy returns.
Danke Schoen Award
Jakob Johnson TD
The German fullback did the dirty work all season paving the way for the backs but he did get a chance to step into the spotlight when he grabbed a 1-yard touchdown pass from Newton in Seattle.