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Patriots Unfiltered's 2020 Lighthouse Awards

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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.

MVP

Rex Burkhead

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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

Damien Harris

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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

J.C. Jackson

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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

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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

Michael Onwenu

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Stepped in and played multiple positions at a high level for an offensive line that performed well all season.

Most Improved

Jakobi Meyers

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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

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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

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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

David Andrews

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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

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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

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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

Gunner Olszewski's punt return TD, D-Mac's TD off a blocked field goal, Jake Bailey's punt downed inside the 5 … given the Patriots dominance it's no wonder the Chargers were looking for a new special teams coach after the game.

Many Happy Returns Award

Gunner Olszewski

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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

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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.

WebEx Award

Media Relations Department

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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

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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

Cam Newton

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

Joe Thuney

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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

Terez Hall

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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

Deatrich Wise

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

Patriots Backfield

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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

Pink Stripes

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

Lawrence Guy

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The first-time captain enjoyed a solid season along the interior defensive line for the defense, and battled through several injuries along the way.

Caddyshack Award

Ravens Game

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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

Kyle Dugger

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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

Chase Winovich

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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

J.J. Taylor

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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

Myles Bryant

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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

Bill Belichick

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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

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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

Bill Belichick

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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.

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