Say the name of a Patriots player and sometimes a specific game or performance comes to mind.
When the Patriots released C/G Billy Yates on Tuesday, the first thought that came to mind was "2006, Vikings, big road win."
I couldn't exactly remember why, but after flipping back through the team's media guide, the picture came into a clearer focus.
That game had some significant pre-game hype. The Patriots were 5-1, the Vikings at 4-2. It was on ESPN's Monday Night Football. The Patriots were having their issues at receiver, and the game, from a Vikings perspective, was considered a test to see if they were legitimate contenders.
That was Yates' first career start -- he was subbing in for an injured Stephen Neal -- and it wouldn't have been as notable had the Patriots not come out with a spread-the-field, pass-first approach.
It was a significant change in strategical approach, made in part because the Vikings had the No. 1-rated run defense with defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams plugging the middle.
Given the noise in the cramped, steamy Metrodome, it was a tough spot to leave the offensive linemen on an island in pass protection, especially someone like Yates making his first career start. Tom Brady, with the luxury of some pretty solid protection, ended up throwing for 372 yards that day in a resounding 31-7 win.
Right guards like Yates don't make many headlines. In all, he played in only 25 games with 11 starts in his time with the Patriots (2004-2008).
Yet that Vikings game stands out.