Julian Edelman's Top 5 Moments as a New England Patriot

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For the second time in as many years, Patriot nation has suffered a great loss.  Monday's news of Julian Edelman's retirement wasn't entirely shocking.  When you look at the chronic knee issues that have plagued Edelman in the past two seasons, the fact that he wasn't expected to be ready for the start of the 2021 season and add in that he's turning 35 next month, it makes sense.  Still sucks though.

Photo courtesy of NESN.com

A guy like that deserved to go out on better terms.  Pats fans will definitely get an opportunity to show their appreciation - I'm sure Edelman will be in the house for a home game this season - but he deserved one last game in front of the home crowd. 

There really was nothing left for this guy to prove, and/or accomplish.  He may be the toughest wide receiver this franchise has ever had.  Listed at just under six feet tall, Edelman never shied away from any type of contact.  He embraced it.  By all accounts from his coaches and teammates, he was one of the hardest working guys in the locker room, as evidenced by his career progression.

Here's a guy who in his first four seasons as a Patriot was a punt returner who occasionally would catch some passes.  He struggled with injuries in the beginning of his career, started in just 13 games and spent most of his first four seasons behind Wes Welker.  However, when Welker moved on after the 2012 season, the Patriots brought in Danny Amendola, whom many viewed as Welker's replacement.

Instead it was Edelman who seized this opportunity and that's when his career really took off.  He exploded in 2013 recording more catches, receiving yards and touchdowns than in his first four seasons combined.  What was most important though, was that he appeared in all 16 games.  The rest is history as they say. 

People will debate whether or not he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.  Regardless of where you stand on that topic, one thing you have to respect is that few elevated their game in the postseason like Edelman did.  So it's no coincidence that his five most memorable moments in New England all came in January and February. 

5. 2019 AFC Championship vs. Kansas City Chiefs - Back to back 3rd down conversions in OT

I wouldn't consider this one of his Top 5 performances as a Patriot, but I will always remember what he did in OT, and that's why this is one of his more memorable moments.  Before OT, Edelman had five catches for 61 yards in this game.  A solid game, but nothing to write home about.  But as he did on so many occasions, with the Patriots needing to make a play in crucial spot, Edelman was there.  Back to back MASSIVE third down conversions on New England's game winning drive in OT.  That's what I'll remember from him about this game.  Consecutive 3rd and 10's, in one of the most hostile environments in football.  New England wasn't supposed to win this game.  This was the changing of the guard.  The death of the dynasty that so many had predicted on numerous occasions.  Nope.  Six of Edelman's seven catches in this one went for first downs, but none bigger than the two in OT. 

4. Super Bowl LIII vs. Los Angeles Rams - 10 catches, 141 yards, Super Bowl MVP

In the Tom Brady era, there weren't too many instances where Brady wasn't the most important offensive player on the field for New England.  Super Bowl LIII was one of those rare occasions.  Edelman carried the New England offense for the first three quarters of this one.  The Patriots couldn't muster much of anything else offensively.  Eight of Edelman's ten catches went for first downs, and he accounted for more than half of Brady's passing yards.  In a game where field position was so important, Edelman had a couple of huge gains on third downs, with New England backed up in their own territory.  Aqib Talib.  Marcus Peters.  It didn't matter who lined up across from him, nobody could cover him. 

3. 2015 AFC Divisional Round vs. Baltimore Ravens - 51-yard TD Pass to Danny Amendola

To this day, I think this is the best Patriot game I ever attended.  In a game full of memorable moments, none will be more memorable than Edelman's absolute dime of a touchdown pass to Amendola that tied the game at 28.  A perfectly timed call by Josh McDaniels, and a perfectly thrown pass from Edelman.  The crowd went ballistic.  It's one thing to call a play like that, and take a gamble early in the game.  It's completely different when you call that play late in the third quarter of a postseason game, in which you are losing.  That pass helped New England erase its second 14-point deficit of the game and really shifted the momentum in this one.  It took a whole lot of guts, something that Edelman never lacked.

2. Super Bowl XLIX vs. Seattle Seahawks - Go ahead 3-yard TD in 4th quarter

Edelman was fantastic in this one: nine catches, 109 yards and this fourth quarter TD.  Obviously the stage of the game makes this a memorable play, but what makes it even better is that they ran this exact play on the previous drive and Brady missed a wide open Edelman.  He didn't miss him on this one.  On both plays, Edelman ran a perfect route and the defender never stood a chance. 

There's another moment from this game that I'll always remember, and deserves an honorable mention.  It came early in the fourth quarter with New England down ten and facing a 3rd and 14.  Brady found Edelman for a mammoth 21 yard gain.  What made the play even more impressive was that Edelman got absolutely leveled by Kam Chancellor on the play.  No doubt in my mind that he suffered a concussion, or at the very least forgot where he was for a second.  He somehow managed to hang on to the pass, and he actually tried to gain a few extra yards, thinking he wasn't down, though his knee had touched.  Just one of the many instances where Edelman got drilled on a play across the middle, but he kept coming back for more. 

1. Super Bowl LI vs. Atlanta Falcons - 23-yard catch in the 4th quarter


This one's a no-brainer.  Easily Edelman's most memorable moment as a Patriot, and one of the most memorable moments in Super Bowl history.  This catch just encapsulated everything that Edelman is in one play.  Tough.  Gritty.  Determined.  Focused.  Surrounded by three defenders, in an almost impossible scenario, Edelman would not be denied.  There's not much to say about this game, and this catch, that hasn't already been said.  This will be a lasting image in Edelman's career. 


Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Julian Edelman's Top 5 Moments as a New England Patriot
Julian Edelman's Top 5 Moments as a New England Patriot
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