Danny Amendola had one of the most productive games of his Patriots career Saturday night, catching 11 passes on 13 targets for 112 yards as New England steamrolled the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
Amendola hadn’t cracked 100 receiving yards since Week 1, but his postseason breakout did not surprise offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels one bit.
“He’s a guy that you trust, that you want in the game, that you can count on, and you know you’re always going to get his best effort,” McDaniels said Monday in a conference call. “Like a lot of our guys, he can take himself to another level and try to do a little bit more than maybe what he’s done in the past, and he does a great job of preparing hard to be able to do that.
“It’s a testament to him how much he cares about his teammates and our team in general. I love having the guy. It’s a privilege to coach people like him.”
Though he rarely generates eye-popping receiving numbers, Amendola long has been a clutch player for the Patriots, and he’s been quarterback Tom Brady’s most reliable target this season with Julian Edelman sidelined. In New England’s 35-14 win over Tennessee, Brady was a perfect 5-for-5 when targeting the 32-year-old on third down, moving the chains each time.
Amendola ranks second on the team in receptions this season with 72 and has caught 72.7 percent of his targets, the highest mark of any Patriots wideout. Only Rob Gronkowski has more catches (75), and Amendola has played 359 fewer offensive snaps than the All-Pro tight end.
“He’s one of the all-time great teammates, no question about it,” McDaniels said. “However big or small you tell him his role is going to be on a week-to-week basis, he embraces that. He prepares really hard. He cares about doing it right. He’s always ready to go, however much you need him or are going to use him, and he’s as competitive as anybody else we have.
“He plays hard on every single snap and will do anything for the team to help us win. I don’t know that I could give a greater compliment to a player than that. And he always plays big in the big games.”
The Patriots have another big game coming up this Sunday. They’ll host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game, with the winner advancing to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.