Dec 16, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead (39) was the most clutch player for the Patriots and has been nominated for two Hippie Awards, including Patriot of the Year. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots: "Hippie" Awards finalists announced

The 2012 Hippie Awards finalists have been announced.

The honor recognizes outstanding individual achievements for the players, staff and management of the New England Patriots.  Since it’s inception 15 hours ago, the Hippie Awards have strived to recognize these achievements as they enhanced the collective team effort.

Honoring Individual Professional Perfromance with Idolatry and Esteem, the Hippie Awards are the preeminent individual honor for Boston area professional sports and will be presented to the public for voting at the conclusion of each team’s season.

The voting for the Patriots’ Hippie Awards will take place on Facebook on the Foxboro Forum page through 11:59pm Saturday, February 9th, as well as poll questions on this site.

The following are the Award Categories:

Rookie of the year:

Chandler Jones, DE – Started the year on fire, was mentioned as an early candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year – an injured ankle essentially robbed him of the 2nd half of the season;

Dont’a Hightower, LB – Never fully healthy, he still started to come on toward the end of the season, flashing snippets of the dominance he showed in college;

Alfonzo Dennard, CB – Perhaps the steal of the entire draft, Dennard took over the #2 corner spot at midseason and flashed shutdown ability and physicality for the position.

Newcomer of the year:

Brandon Lloyd, WR – Took a while for he and Tom Brady to really start to click, but proved to be a dependable outside the numbers with sick body control and fly paper hands;

Aqib Talib, CB – Immediately solidified the Patriots secondary upon arrival from Tampa Bay, was injured for a couple of games, and was injured early in the AFC Championship game, essentially a shut down corner as long as he was on the field;

Michael Hoomanawanui, TE/H-Back – Picked up from the Rams before the 1st game of the season, proved to be a valuable asset backing up Rob Gronkowski, a load as a blocker in the running game.

Defensive Player of the year:

Jerod Mayo, LB - Tackling machine and best coverage linebacker had another solid campaign that saw him voted to the Pro Bowl;

Vince Wilfork, DT - Demands double teams on every snap, and even that isn’t enough to keep Wilfork out of the play…racked up yet another Pro Bowl invite in 2012;

Devin McCourty, FS - Started the year at Corner, flip-flopped to free safety when injuries decimated the corps and solidified a position that had been vacant for years;

Rob Ninkovich, DE - Always in the scrum, always attacking the ball – non-stop motor and nose for the ball makes Ninkovich a solid starter on the left side.

Offensive Player of the Year:

Tom Brady, QB - Another year, another Pro Bowl…not much left to say about the all-time franchise player;

Wes Welker, WR - The guy takes some vicious hits and pops right back up – he is either impervious to pain or is a certified sadist.  Best slot receiver in the NFL;

Stevan Ridley, RB - Big year for the second year kid from LSU, up until the point that he got knocked out by Bernard Pollard, he appeared to be the best running back the Patriots have had in years;

Rob Gronkowski, TE - His value to the team was on display in his absence.  He played just 10 games, but put up numbers that would be full seasons to many tight ends;

Sebastian Vollmer, RT - Seabass is going to be a rich man very soon.  The best right tackle in the business helped keep Brady as clean as he’s been in years.

Nate Solder, LT - Ditto for Solder, who will be a very rich man some day – he impressed all season protecting Brady’s blind side.

“Next man up”of the Year:

Justin Francis, DT - Rookie free agent came on like gangbusters late in the season, provided quality depth and filled in admirably during injury and suspensions;

Donald Thomas, G - Fourth year veteran road grater played in all 16 games in the regular season, starting seven of them, more than filling in for Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins;

Michael Hoomanawanui, TE - “Hooman” was sign just before the season opener and worked his way past Daniel Fells on the Depth chart, and ended up starting all six games that Pro Bowl Tight End Rob Gronkowski missed.  Solid in run blocking and even caught a few balls;

Trevor Scott, DE - Picked up as a free agent from Oakland in the off-season, got his chance to shine when an ankle injury to Chandler Jones and Jermaine Cunningham’s suspension elevated him into the defensive line rotation

Clutch play of the year:

Danny Woodhead’s 3rd & 9 run vs San Francisco – Trailing 31-3 with just over 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter at the 49ers 21 yard line, Woodhead sparked a furious rally with his improbable 15 yard scamper for a 1st down, then scored on a 6 yard run the next play;

Brandon Spikes forced fumble against Arizona – Out of time outs and trailing the Cardinals by two with just 1:10 left in the game, The Patriots needed a stop on 3rd and 13 to force a punt and get the ball back.  All the Cardinals had to do was run the ball and stay inbounds and would be able to run the clock down to mere seconds to play before punting to the Patriots, that is until Spikes forced Running back Ryan Williams to fumble on the run, setting up the Patriots in field goal range.  Unfortunately, Stephen Gostkowski missed the attempt and the Patriots lost 20-18;

Aaron Henandez’ recovery of a Ridley fumble vs. Houston – On the Patriots initial drive of the game the Patriots had a 1st and Goal on the Texans 4 yard line when Stevan Ridley was bottled up in the middle of the line and had the ball ripped out of his hands.  The ball squirted off to the left where an alert Hernandez outraced several Texans defenders and recovered the ball.  Hernandez scored on the next play;

Rob Ninkovich’s sack and forced fumble of New York Jets’ Mark Sanchez in overtime – The turning point of the Patriots’ season, a Stephen Gostkowski field goal put the Patriots ahead by three in overtime, the Jets took the ensuing kickoff and were driving.  On a 2nd and 10 from the Jets’ 40 yard line, Mark Sanchez dropped back to pass and was sacked by Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham, Ninkovich’s high hit dislodging the ball from Sanchez and Ninkovich was able to recover the ball to end the game.

Game of the Year:

San Francisco 41 New England 34 – Trailing by a score of 31-3, New England staged a furious 2nd half rally, scoring 28 point in 14 minutes to tie the game at 31, eventually losing on a special teams’ gaffe;

New England 26 New York Jets 23 (OT) – Floundering at 3-3 entering the game, the Patriots struggled for any consistency on offense.  In the 4th quarter Tom Brady finally got some momentum going and was able to lead a drive to send the game into overtime.  In the extra period, the Patiots kicked a field goal, then defensive end Rob Ninkovich strip-sacked Jet’s quarterback Mark Sanchez to end the game – the win raised New England’s record to 4-3 and launched a stretch where the Patriots won seven straight games and 9 of 10 to finish the season;

New England 49 New York Jets 19 – On Thanksgiving night in New Jersey the Patriots scored 35 points in just over 11 minutes of the 2nd quarter.  The Patriots scored on two long pass plays and two bizarre fumble returns, Vince Wilfork causing the now infamous “Bumble” which Steve Gregory returned for a touchdown, then Devin McCourty forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff which Juline Edelman plucked out of the air and returned for a touchdown;

New England 42 Houston 14 – The Patriots scored touchdowns on four long, sustained drives and led 21-0 at the half and 28-0 in the 3rd quarter before Houston managed to score.  By far the most complete team win of the season and got New England back into the conversation of top 2 conference seeds.  The win gave the Patriots a tie-breaker over Houston that would ultimately lead to a top 2 finish and a first round bye in the playoffs.

Patriot of the Year:

Rob Ninkovich, DE – Clutch performer all season, led the team in sacks, forced fumbles and recovered four fumbles…logged 58 total tackles;

Tom Brady, QB – Efficient, Brady completed 63% of his passes recording 34 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions;

Wes Welker, WR – 118 catches for 1354 yards are All Pro numbers, though he was somehow not selected for the team;

Devin McCourty, FS – His conversion from cornerback to Safety help solidify a secondary that was in turmoil, logged 79 tackles and 5 interceptions as the centerfielder, and also impacted speacila teams, returning a kickoff for a touchdown and forcing a fumble on a kickoff return that was recovered for a touchdown;

Vince Wilfork, DT – Stats do not do Wilfork justice in how he impacts a game – he always requires a double team from the offensive line, but manhandles them more often than not.  His pass rush can reestablish the line of scrimmage all by himself;

Danny Woodhead, RB – Made the most of  his limited time on the field by scoring 7 touchdowns and coming up with more clutch plays than any other Patriot.

Tags: Arizona Cardinals Houston Texans New England Patriots New York Jets San Francisco 49ers

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