New England Patriots

Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff,

You either believe Matthew Slater is a Pro Football Hall of Famer, or you don’t believe gunners belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

That’s the real debate. Because if Canton is ever going to create a bronze bust for a special teams ace, it will do so for the Patriots’ longtime special teams captain. Slater showed why he’s become the subject of such debates with a single play late in the Patriots’ 30-14 win over the Jets.

Watch below as Slater shows incredible concentration to track the ball over his head and tip Jake Bailey’s punt out of the end zone and to the 1-yard line, where Jonathan Jones downed it.

The play showed why Slater is a seven-time Pro Bowler and a 2016 All-Pro as a special teamer. But it was also the product of hard work between him and the rookie punter, who dropped the ball right where he could get his hands on the ball in the first place.

“Obviously Jake and I have had to start working it a lot more, we haven’t had a lot of time working on it together, but we’ve spent a lot of time at it,” Slater said after the game. “He gave me a ball that I could play, we try to make a play on it. It’s nice to be able to contribute in a good team win like that.”

Slater and Bailey look to be building chemistry as the season has begun to chug along. The play notably came with key injuries on special teams Sunday, as Nate Ebner sat with a groin injury and Shilique Calhoun was also out.

Let’s put it this way. If Slater ever does end up in Canton, that play will be on his highlight reel. It certainly will be when – when – he dons a red jacket at the Patriots Hall of Fame someday.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at

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