Julian Edelman’s catch in the New England Patriots’ comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI remains one of the greatest catches in NFL history.
This week saw the retirement of New England Patriots running back James White, who caught the touchdown pass that won the Patriots their 5th Super Bowl title when they completed their miraculous 28-3 comeback against the Atlanta Falcons to win the Super Bowl in 2017.
However, the Patriots wouldn’t have been in position to win the game were it not for the heroics of some of their players earlier in the game to help get them back on level terms before they went on to win the game in overtime. One such player was Julian Edelman, who finally got his moment to shine as part of the Patriots dynasty.
Whilst Tom Brady was, and probably always will be, the star of the show when it comes to the Patriots’ dominance, there was always a rotating cast of great offensive weapons to help him put up some of the incredible numbers that he did.
Whether it be the tight ends that helped revolutionise the position in the form of Ron Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Benjamin Watson, or the men on the outside like Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Deion Branch, one name that always went under the radar somewhat, perhaps as a result of the dominance and prominence of those listed above, was Edelman.
Sneaking under the radar
Edelman put up over 6,800 yards and 36 touchdowns, whilst also making an impact in the return game with over 2,600 yards on kickoffs and punts, never putting up remarkable numbers across his time in the NFL, but always providing Brady with the perfect safety blanket for when he needed him most.
But it was in the big moments that he really excelled himself. Whilst he put up 141 yards on 10 catches to win MVP of Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams, it was their previous win that saw him pull off arguably the most remarkable play in the history of the big game.
With the Patriots down by eight points and less than three minutes to go, it was really desperation time for the Patriots, and things could have gone a lot different for them if this play had gone the other way.
Brady heaved the ball up looking for Edelman, but it was deflected by Robert Alford, forcing Edelman, along with Falcons defenders Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen to adjust their bodies as they all fought for the ball, with the ensuing sea of body parts giving Edelman barely enough room to try and bring the ball down, managing to do so on the second attempt:
The Immaculate Reception often goes down as the greatest play in NFL history, but given the circumstances and the magnitude of the game in comparison, as well as the incredible handeye coordination and grip needed to pull off something like that, you can put this play ahead of it on the podium and you would have a fair argument.