There will be six Patriots on the field in Honolulu for the 2003 Pro Bowl, including five starters and three first time attendees. In fact, the Patriots five starters mark the most of any team in the AFC and equals the Eagles for the most in the NFL. Larry Izzo, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Richard Seymour and Adam Vinatieri will all start the game, while center Damien Woody is a reserve.
Law, making his third Pro Bowl appearance, is a late addition to the starting lineup as Miami corner Patrick Surtain pulled out of the game late this week with a knee injury. Dolphins teammate Sam Madison will replace Surtain on the roster, but Law gets the start.
Law comes off a season in which he tied for the Patriots lead in interceptions with four, tied for second with 10 passes defensed and was fifth with 77 tackles. He also had one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Law played in big role in last season's Pro Bowl as he intercepted a Donovan McNabb pass in the fourth quarter that he returned to the NFC 13 where he pitched the ball to linebacker Ray Lewis who made it to the end zone for the game-winning score. Law was also the game's co-MVP in 1999 when he returned an interception 67 yards for a score to help the AFC defeat the NFC 23-10.
Izzo and Vinatieri are both considered starters in roles as special teams players. Izzo makes his second Pro Bowl after a season in which the Patriots special teams captain led the team and tied for fifth in the NFL with 20 special teams tackles. The All-Pro Vinatieri goes to his first Pro Bowl after yet another solid season of kicking. The consistent kicker recorded his seventh consecutive season with more than 100 points with his 117 points in 2002. He led the NFL in field goal percentage at 90-percent on 27-30 kicks. He also recorded an NFL season-long, career and franchise-long 57-yard field goal against the Bears. Vinatieri ended the Patriots bittersweet season with a 35-yards game-winning kick in overtime to beat the Dolphins on Dec. 29 and temporarily keep New England's playoff hopes alive.
Milloy, a Patriots defensive co-captain, will play in his second consecutive Pro Bowl on Sunday and the fourth of his seven-year career. He started all 16 games for New England in 2002 and ranked third on the team with 91 tackles in his role as the team's defensive leader. He also had six passes defensed and 3 special teams tackles on the year.
The second-year defensive lineman Seymour will make his first Pro Bowl appearance this weekend. Seymour became a key force on the interior line in 2002 as opposing team's were forced to schematically prepare and game plan for the 6-6, 310-pound force. He finished the year tied for a team-high with 5.5 sacks to go along with his 56 tackles, one interception, three passes defensed and one fumble recovery.
Woody was a late addition to the Pro Bowl roster and will backup Jets center Kevin Mawae in the game. Woody was originally an alternate for the game, but was added to the contest when Raiders center Barret Robbins pulled out following the Super Bowl. In his fourth season, the former number one draft pick started 15 of 16 games and anchored a line that gave up just 31 sacks, the fewest the team has given up since a 30-sack season in 1997.
The six Pro Bowlers is the most the Patriots have had since the team also sent six representatives after the 1996 season. The franchise sent a record of 8 players following the 1985 season.
The Pro Bowl kicks off Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET.
Pro Bowl Notes
This weekend will mark the 53rd installment of the Pro Bowl. The first was played on Jan. 14, 1951 at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. … This will be the 33rd time the AFC and NFC sides have met since the merger in 1971. The series is tied at 16-16, but the AFC has won six of the last eight, including a 38-30 win last February. Aloha Stadium has been the site of the last 23 Pro Bowls, with the AFC holding a 12-11 advantage at the current venue. … The Philadelphia Eagles have the most players in Sunday's contest with 10. Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid and his staff will also do the coaching on the NFC sideline, an honor that goes to the losing teams in the conference title games. … Each player on the winning team walks away with a $30,000 payday, while the losers go home with an extra $15,000. … Jerry Rice will set a record on Sunday by playing in his 13th Pro Bowl. Next in the longevity line are Junior Seau with 12 and Rod Woodson with 11 Pro Bowl appearances. … The NFC is the home team for the game