FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – The Patriots have only one Pro Bowl player for the first time in six years. Even two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady was left out despite his strong season and his team’s 10-4 record that leads the AFC East.

New England’s quarterback doesn’t mind, especially if he can spend the day of the game reveling in more Super Bowl accomplishments from the previous weekend while the stars get some exercise in the Feb. 10 exhibition in Honolulu.

“I think this team cares about one bowl,” Brady said Wednesday, “and it certainly isn’t the Pro Bowl.”

The only Patriot chosen for the AFC team announced Tuesday is defensive end Richard Seymour. He was picked for the fifth consecutive season, while Brady’s two-year streak ended.

“It’s still very humbling and it’s still exciting, just like the first one,” said Seymour, who has been chosen every season except his rookie year. “It’s always an honor to go but it’s even better when you have your teammates over with you.”

Brady’s numbers haven’t been spectacular, but he has led the Patriots to a two-game division lead despite an almost entirely new corps of wide receivers and numerous injuries at running back and tight end.

“I assure you he was a starting quarterback on my ballot. He’s a great player so I don’t know how he gets left off,” said Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, whose Jaguars are home against the Patriots on Sunday.

The Patriots have the fewest Pro Bowl selections of the seven teams with records of 9-5 or better. Even Oakland (2-12) had one player chosen.

“It’s hard to say that the guy who made it shouldn’t have been there,” Brady said. “If other people who vote don’t have the respect for this team, I think we’re kind of used to that.”

Ty Warren, the Patriots other starting defensive end, is having an outstanding season. Special teams player Larry Izzo was on two of the last four Pro Bowl squads. Cornerback Asante Samuel leads the NFL with eight interceptions. None were picked in the voting by players, coaches and fans.

“Being a competitor, of course I’m disappointed,” Samuel said. “We can’t worry about that. If we worried about who goes to the Pro Bowl, we’d never win a game. So we’re moving on from there. Everybody’s thinking about Jacksonville.”

Seymour was the sixth player drafted in 2001 after starring at Georgia. He has four sacks this season and, last Sunday, came up with his second career interception when he tipped David Carr’s pass then turned around and caught the ball. New England went on to beat Houston 40-7.

That play “shows a lot of athleticism, to turn around and find it and make that play kind of over his shoulder,” coach Bill Belichick said. “We’ve got defensive backs and linebackers and the ball gets thrown to them and hits them right in the hands and we don’t catch it.

“Richard’s a force in every phase of the game.”

He wasn’t when the Patriots lost to the New York Jets 17-14 in Foxborough on Nov. 12. He spent an unusual amount of time on the sidelines.

With Warren missing that game with an injury, Seymour moved from his usual right end spot to the left side. That change, plus elbow and groin injuries, may have affected his play.

That game ended his streak of 30 with at least one tackle. He didn’t have any tackles last Sunday either but played well.

“I’m just as happy this year as I have been over the past because there’s been games where it’s been a question, “Should you play?’ ” Seymour said. “I’ve been pretty banged up this season but I consider myself going up the ladder as the season has moved forward.”

The last time no Patriot made the Pro Bowl was in 2000 when the team went 5-11. Over the next five seasons, they had four, six, three, five and two players chosen.

Brady feels he’s played consistently throughout this season. He said making the Pro Bowl “matters very, very, very, very little” to him. “What we’re concerned about is winning the championship.”

He and Seymour have done that in three of the last five seasons.

“Nothing’s better than going to Hawaii coming off a Super Bowl victory,” Seymour said.

AP-ES-12-20-06 1640EST


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