So much has transpired since Julian Edelman made The Catch in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons. Most notably, Edelman did not make an appearance in last year’s postseason run, a run that ended with a heartbreaking loss to Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles. As Edelman and the New England Patriots ready themselves for yet another postseason in the Tom Brady era, take a look back at Edelman’s postseason history.
A Very Slow Start
Many Patriots fans would like to forget the 2009, 2010 and 2011 postseasons, and I’m sure Edelman might want to forget 2010 and 2011 as well.
In 2009, Edelman was a significant contributor in the Patriots 14-33 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wildcard Round. (Notably, this was the last time the New England Patriots had to play in the Wildcard Round of the AFC Playoffs.)
This Patriots team featured an offensive trio for the ages in Brady, Randy Moss, and Kevin Faulk. However, against the Ravens, it was Edelman that came up a hero. The scrappy young rookie out of Kent State scored both of the Patriots touchdowns during that game. He saw a team-high eight targets, tied by Faulk in this game, and caught 75 percent of those targets.
However, Edelman’s postseason success dipped considerably in the following years.
When the Patriots fell victim to Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets in the Divisional Round of the 2010 playoffs, Edelman had essentially been written out of the offense. He went into that playoff game with fewer than ten receptions and only 86 yards on the season. His most significant contributions had come on special teams that year, averaging 15.28 yards per punt return including a searing 94-yard return against the Miami Dolphins.
But he started that 2010 Divisional Round game against the Jets because Bill Belichick had not appreciated Wes Welker‘s infamous “feet” press conference. Unfortunately for Edelman, the team got off on the wrong foot, and the second-year Patriot saw only one target for 11 yards in the loss.
Edelman saw his first postseason win against the Denver Broncos as the Patriots rolled to a 45-10 win in the Divisional Round of the 2011 playoffs. But again, the postseason wasn’t kind to the former Golden Flash. Between the Denver win and the AFC Championship Game against the Ravens that year, Edelman caught just two of his five targets.
During that season, the coaching staff made the decision to bring Edelman into the defensive meetings to serve as a rotational defensive back. His impact on the 2011 playoffs was limited to three tackles, a forced fumble, and an average of just 8.75 yards on 4 punt returns.
In Super Bowl XLVI, Edelman didn’t see any snaps on offense or defense but returned three kicks for 73 yards.
A Full Head of Steam
Super Bowl XLVI would be the last time Edelman saw work as a defensive back in the postseason, and it was the last time that a healthy Julian Edelman was not an integral part of the New England Patriots postseason offense.
In 2012, Edelman broke his foot and was placed on injured reserve, missing out on the 2012 postseason. But he rebounded with vigor.
In the 2013 playoffs, Edelman was targeted 24 times in two games. In the Divisional Round, Edelman averaged 14 yards per catch on six of his eight targets. Edelman had established himself as a grinder, relentless regardless of his history, and he stayed on the field for 92 percent of the offense’s snaps.
He caught the third postseason touchdown in his career during the 16-26 loss to the Broncos in the AFC Championship. Edelman was targeted 15 times during that game. Shane Vereen saw the second-most targets with eight. This was the postseason in which Julian Edelman began to realize his destiny as one of the franchise’s most beloved receivers.
Ringing It In
In 2014, Edelman finally got his Super Bowl ring. The Patriots faced the Ravens once again, this time in the Divisional Round, and Edelman led the team in targets and receptions. With ten minutes left in the fourth quarter, Justin Tucker kicked a field goal to give the Ravens the lead. Edelman caught two passes on the Patriots ensuing drive. His second catch on that drive, a six-yarder in Baltimore territory on second down, set up the Patriots for the go-ahead 26-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell.
He also, earlier in that game, flashed back to his success at Kent State by tossing a 51-yard touchdown to Patriots postseason legend, Danny Amendola.
His success only grew from there. In the AFC Championship, a win forever tarnished by the Deflategate scandal, Edelman punished the Indianapolis Colts with 98 receiving yards, a career-high catch rate of 81.8 percent and 71 punt return yards on just three attempts.
When the Patriots faced the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, Edelman notched his first 100-yard postseason game. He led the team in receiving yards with 109. It was Edelman that pulled in the three-yard touchdown from Brady to put the Patriots up 28-24 with just over two minutes left in the game, what would be the final touchdown of Super Bowl XLIX.
In the 2015 Playoffs, Edelman came out with guns blazing. It had taken him nine playoff appearances to post a 100-yard game, but he put together back-to-back bucks by shredding the Kansas City Chiefs on ten receptions for a flat 100 yards. It would be another disappointing ending for Edelman and the Patriots as they fell 18-20 to the Broncos in the AFC Championship in Peyton Manning‘s swan song season.
Julian Edelman’s 2016 postseason was unequivocally the sweetest. The Patriots scored 30+ points in three consecutive games to win their second title in three years. In the Divisional Round, Edelman put on a clinic. With eight receptions on 13 targets, Edelman dropped 137 receiving yards on a Houston Texans defense that included A.J. Bouye and Kareem Jackson in the secondary.
A week later, he dropped 113 yards, an 80 percent catch rate and a touchdown on the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary. His performance was outdone only by Chris Hogan, who posted a career-high 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Super Bowl LI
That brings us to Super Bowl LI and Edelman’s outstanding atmosphere-changing catch sandwiched between two Falcons defenders and a sizable lead looming over the Patriots. As a whole, Edelman’s performance in that game was not up to his typical postseason standards. For the first time since the 2011 Playoffs, Edelman caught fewer than 50 percent of his targets. He failed to bring in either of his shots deep outside the hashes and caught only half of his targets short-left.
In the second quarter, on the same drive that Robert Alford picked off Brady for an 82-yard return, Edelman failed to catch all three of his targets, a symbolic indication of how the entire game had gone for the Patriots thus far.
But Edelman made his miracle catch with 2:28 left in the game, and it changed the Patriots whole demeanor. The Catch put the Patriots into Falcons territory, and Brady completed his next four attempts to tie the game and then his next five to set the Patriots in position for James White‘s historic and game-winning touchdown run.
Edelman’s Postseason Receiving Stats
|Games Played||Record||Targets||Receptions||Catch Rate||Receiving Yards||Yards per Reception||Touchdowns|
Stats provided by Pro Football Reference.
Edelman’s Postseason Stats vs. Current Playoff Teams
|Opponent||Record||Targets||Receptions||Catch Rate||Receiving Yards||Yards per Reception||Touchdowns|
Stats provided by Pro Football Reference.
Last Word on Julian Edelman in the Postseason
The 2018 Playoffs have yet to be written, and there’s no telling how Edelman will perform. He’s coming off a six-touchdown, 850-yard and 68.5 percent catch rate season. The sudden loss of Josh Gordon is going to afford plenty of opportunities for the squirrely, trustworthy receiver to shine. Julian Edelman, since the day he entered the league, has been playing like he has something to prove. After sitting out the entire 2017 season, don’t expect this postseason to be any different.
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