FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Willie McGinest was Robert Kraft’s first draft pick after he bought the New England Patriots in 1994. What followed was a stellar career that included three Super Bowl championships and six AFC East titles.

During halftime of Thursday night’s game, McGinest was honored as the 24th member of the team’s Hall of Fame, introduced to the crowd by Kraft, who noted McGinest’s strengths and best performances.

McGinest was with the Pats for 12 years and made the Pro Bowl twice. He is the NFL’s leader in postseason sacks with 16 and the postseason single-game sack record-holder with 4.5.

But he said it was never about him, listing many of the teammates who made him better, particularly linebackers Steve Nelson and Andre Tippett.

“It was never about individuals,” said McGinest. “It was always about the team.”

He thanked his family because their sacrifices “made it able for me to get to where I am today.”

The Patriots rolled out the banners of the three Super Bowls they won during McGinest’s career.

NO SURPRISES on the Patriots’ inactive list. They had already listed DE Jabaal Sheard (ankle) and OL Marcus Cannon (toe) as being out on Wednesday. The other inactive players included rookie G Shaq Mason (knee), S Tavon Wilson, newly acquired DB Dewey McDonald, WR Keshawn Martin (hamstring) and rookie DL Trey Flowers (knee/shoulder).

All this meant running backs Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden were active after sitting out Sunday’s game against the New York Jets. Lewis gave an immediate boost to the offense with his ability to knife through the line and catch passes.

IT MAY seem like this was an unusually early trip for the Dolphins to Gillette Stadium. We tend to think of them playing here in the middle of winter. That’s not entirely true.

This was the fifth time in the last 10 years the Dolphins were in town before December. It was the third game the teams played here in October, with one in September, one in November, four in December and one in January in that stretch.

The Patriots were 8-1 in the previous nine games, losing only the 2008 game, 28-7 on Sept. 21. That was the year Tom Brady blew out a knee in the first game.

GOING INTO Thursday’s game, the Patriots were 9-5 all-time on Thursday games, including those on Thanksgiving. They were 8-1 in their last nine Thursday games, including 8-0 in games started by Tom Brady. The only loss came in 2008, 34-31 in overtime to the Jets.


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