December 28, 2012

Pats' Matthew Slater humbled by Pro Bowl nod

The Associated Press

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New England Patriots special teams members, including Devin McCourty (32), Tavon Wilson (27), Matthew Slater (18) and Tracy White (58) prepare for a kickoff during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Monday, Dec. 10, 2012. Matthew Slater has been selected to his second straight Pro Bowl.

The Associated Press

Not all plays work.

A critical failure came after the Patriots had rallied from a 31-3 deficit to tie San Francisco at 31 on Dec. 16. LaMichael James fielded the kickoff at his goal line and returned it 62 yards. On the next play, Colin Kaepernick threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree and the 49ers went on to win 41-34.

It was a painful lesson to relearn.

"It's a 60-minute ballgame. In our phase of the game at any point in time a play can take place that changes the momentum and the outcome," Slater said. "When we have a mistake on a special teams play, it's a little more glaring and game changing than if somebody misses a block or drops the ball where we could get it on second down, we could get it on third down.

"There is no third down, no fourth down. It's a one-down deal and I think we learned that our urgency and our level of execution need to be there every single play."

Slater has made enough good plays to be chosen for his second Pro Bowl. He'd just prefer to be traveling to New Orleans while that game is being played in Honolulu on Jan. 27.

"I didn't get to go last year," he said with a smile. "Hopefully, I won't get to go this year."

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