Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stallworth sees season-high, low within 24 hours


When asked about Donte' Stallworth's contribution to the New England Patriots' Monday night victory over the Houston Texans, coach Bill Belichick said that football is about “getting opportunities and taking advantage of them and making them count.

"Sometimes you get just a couple and you have to make those count and he sure did.” (photo: firebrandal, Flickr)

Oh, how right he was.

The Pats announced Tuesday that Stallworth was placed on the Injured Reserve list after sustaining an ankle injury on his lone catch of the 2012 season: a 63-yard touchdown pass that put the game out of reach early in third quarter.

Stallworth blew through the Texans' coverage down the seam, making an over-shoulder-grab and fighting off defensive back Quintin Demps to dive into the end zone.

The play that officially ended the veteran's tenth season in the NFL and simultaneously gave quarterback Tom Brady his 18th game with four or more touchdowns, passing Johnny Unitas for fourth most all-time.

New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels praised Stallworth's work ethic and performance before the official announcement, giving the journeyman high marks for how he stepped in and re-learned the team's system in less than a week.

“I don't want to understate how hard it is to come in off the street and get acclimated to not only what the game plan is but who the opponent is, how they play,” McDaniels said Tuesday. “And then, go out there and have to perform on short notice. Credit to him for putting himself in position to be able to go out there and do that.”

The Patriots will now look for another familiar face to fill its void at wide receiver, as Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe reported Tuesday that Deion Branch is set to sign his third contract of this season with the team. New England is obviously more interested in Branch's familiarity with the team's system and quarterback than his speed, since he's been cut twice already this year for his inability to consistently get open.

But if Brady has proven anything, however, it's that he can more than thrive with what he's given to work with.

Branch tallied 80 yards on nine receptions before his last departure from the team, and he and Brady have connected on 28 touchdown passes in his career, four in the playoffs.

Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily