SUPER BOWL COUNTDOWN | 15: Troy Brown's clutch catches helped Patriots grab three rings

Counting down the weekdays to Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5 in Houston, we look back at the 50 greatest Super Bowl competitors from the ASN family of schools as calculated one year ago. Today: 15

Troy Brown played in five Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, winning three along the way.

The part of Super Bowl week he misses most is “all the joy, spending time with family … (to) celebrate a rare moment,” he told The Web Show’s Matt Lincoln via Skype.

Of all Brown's Super Bowl moments, one stands out — his 23-yard reception in Super Bowl XXXVI to set up Adam Viniatieri’s game-winning field goal that gave the Patriots their first NFL championship.

He led the Patriots in the regular season with 101 catches and in the postseason with 18 receptions, including six for 89 yards in a 20-17 victory against the St. Louis Rams.

Prior to his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2012, Brown told the media he was most surprised that he was able to get open for the reception.

“I couldn’t believe I was that wide open,” he said. “I mean the play before, they were playing sort of a man-type defense and we had trouble getting the ball down the field, and they decided to switch it up and we hit ‘em for a pretty good chunk.”

Brown's other lasting memory about that play was how calm the Patriots offense was despite being down with only minutes to play.

“There was really not a whole lot of panic for the situation the way it was,” he said. “And I think a lot of that had to do with Tom (Brady) … he didn’t have a look of fear in his eyes.”

That's because Brady could see Brown. “Troy's the first guy I'm looking for,” Brady told media after the game. “I'm looking for Troy — always Troy.”

“The ball goes to Troy, and I'm jumping up and down,” teammate Charles Johnson said. “He's done it all season long, and Tom has done it all season long. That play made us believe we could win it right then.”

Brown, who is also in the College Football Hall of Fame, ended his career as the Patriots leader in career receptions. For a superstar, though, Brown embraced the idea of being a team player — he also played on special teams and took a few turns at cornerback.

He made more tackles (six) than receptions (five) during New England's Super Bowl XXXIX title run following the 2004 season.

The previous season, Brown tied for the team lead with 17 playoff receptions. He made eight catches, including three on the game-winning drive, as the Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers 32-29 in Super Bowl XXXVIII

While playing for Marshall, Brown was the Division I-AA leader in kickoff and punt returns in 1991 and a year later led the Thundering Herd to its first national championship.

One of nine former Marshall players to win a Super Bowl ring, Brown retired in 2008 as the Patriots' all-time leader in receptions (557 for 6,366 yards and 31 touchdowns). He played 15 years, the second-longest tenure in Patriots history to Steve Grogan's 16, after joining the Patriots in 1993 as an unheralded eighth-round pick.

“I'm a football player,” Brown said in “Then Belichick Said to Brady ... The Best New England Patriots Stories Ever Told.”

“I just want to play football,” he added. “Any chance I have, I want to be out there. I just like playing ball.”

Jill R. Dorson is a freelance writer based in San Diego.

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