5 plays that defined Julian Edelman's time with Patriots


Toughness. Clutch performances. Relentless effort. Great teamwork. These are the hallmarks of Julian Edelman’s career with the Patriots. No matter what side of the ball, or where in the formation he lined up, all he wanted to do was make a play to help his team win, to contribute positively in any way possible. And he did, time and time again. These attributes made him beloved to the fans and his teammates.

During his time with the Pats, Edelman ran, threw, caught, defended, returned and tackled people carrying the ball. He was a throwback, playing offense defense and special teams, cut from a mold few other great Patriots were, like Troy Brown -- something you know endeared him to coach Bill Belichick. And over a 12-year career, highlighted by so many clutch catches, big plays, great soundbites and memorable moments, these five plays are favorites that when shown to any football fan, of any age at any time, should illustrate the value Edelman brought to the Patriots over his 12 seasons.


Offense wasn’t a problem for the 2011 Patriots. They just couldn’t stop anybody, hence why No. 11, who we knew as the Wes Welker clone who caught the two meaningless touchdowns in the blowout Wild Card loss to the Ravens in the 2009 playoffs, ultimately was forced to play safety at times, including in the Super Bowl. But it was earlier that season against the Dolphins where the then third-year former QB out of Kent State, now a punt returner trying to make his mark, did just that, tying the record for longest punt return in franchise history.


In 2013, Edelman, who supplanted a freshly signed and injured Danny Amendola as the heir to the Welker slot receiver throne, helped lead a furious 24-0 comeback and overtime win against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Obviously, when the teams rematched at Gillette Stadium the next year, Edelman, now a star, would have to do something for an encore. And did he ever. It was such a big play, a record-setting play, on a big stage, against Tom Brady’s biggest rival, that Brady famously left the bench to celebrate with No. 11 in the end zone. And when Edelman asked if that was him, Brady replied, “Had to go see my guy.” And thus a football bromance was born.

Third-and-14, SUPER BOWL XLIX

In a game where he caught the game-winning touchdown, and is most famously remembered for someone else’s catch of the ball, the play we remember most for Edelman is classic JE11: a drive extending catch that helped ignite a comeback, a ferocious Super Bowl fourth quarter comeback (something he and the guys knew all too well over a two-year stretch). On the play Edelman did what he so often did, went over the middle, risking life and limb to make a catch in traffic, taking a huge hit in the process, all for a first down. And take a huge hit did he ever, as Kam Chancellor, who put the boom in The Legion of Boom, lit Edelman up like the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. And yet Edelman carried on. Some suspect he might have been a bit compromised thereafter, not enough to catch the game-winning touchdown.


When the Patriots were having a wicked time keeping up in a divisional round classic with the Ravens, it was No. 11 to the rescue. This was a game that would ultimately become memorable for more than just their comeback, or the game-winning dime to Brandon LaFell, or even this play, but rather being the catalyst for the DeflateGate saga. Yet it was Edelman who provided the spark on the biggest stage. But this time not from his usual position, rather one he’d abandoned some years ago at Kent State. Remember, Belichick said famously that Brady throws the ball in New England. Hence why nobody saw this all-time Patriots gem coming.


You can point to a dozen different plays being the key to the turnaround and the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. And each is probably valid. But there’s no celebrating 28-3 as a meme signifying that no obstacle, no score is too great to overcome without the most improbable catch we’ve ever seen, postseason or not. And that includes the litany of improbable catches that had been made against the Patriots in their previous three Super Bowl appearances (David Tyree, Mario Manningham, Jermaine Kearse). The how behind this baffles us all to this day, but then we shouldn’t be surprised he made this catch. After all he was the one telling us when they were down 25 points that it was gonna be "a helluva story”. Oh it was, and so was The Catch.

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