After missing the entire 2017 season with a torn ACL, Sunday’s New England Patriots playoff game was Julian Edelman’s first since Super Bowl LI.
The veteran wide receiver picked up right where he left off.
Edelman, whose highlight-reel catch against the Atlanta Falcons helped make the Patriots’ historic Super Bowl comeback possible, enjoyed a career game in New England’s 41-28 divisional-round waxing of the Los Angeles Chargers, catching nine passes on 13 targets for 151 yards.
That performance moved Edelman into second place in NFL history in postseason receptions — only Jerry Rice, one of his boyhood idols, has more — and eighth in postseason receiving yards.
Even at 32 and coming off a severe knee injury, Edelman has been one of the Patriots’ most reliable offensive weapons throughout the 2018 season, which has come as no surprise to his quarterback.
“Nothing surprises me with Jules,” Tom Brady said Monday on WEEI’s “Mut & Callahan.” “He’s as mentally and physically tough as anyone who has played for the Patriots.”
That toughness was on full display on Edelman’s second catch of the afternoon, when he muscled through two Chargers defenders to turn a 7-yard gain on second-and-13 into 14 yards and a first down. Two plays later, Brady hit him over the middle for 28 yards to set up a Sony Michel touchdown run.
Edelman also absorbed a big combo hit from Michael Davis and Rayshawn Jenkins after hauling in a 19-yard pass late in the second quarter.
Edelman, who tied his single-game career high for receiving yards Sunday, led the Patriots in that category during the regular season and ranked second in catches and touchdown catches despite missing the first four games due to suspension. Including playoffs, he has 83 catches for 1,001 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games since returning to action in Week 4.
Speaking of playoffs, Edelman’s monster game against the Chargers continued a streak of postseason dominance for the 10th-year pro. Edelman has been targeted 10 or more times in each of his last 10 playoff games, averaging 8.3 catches and 101.6 yards per game
“I think (Sunday) was one of the best games he’s ever played, at the biggest moment,” Brady said on WEEI. “That’s when Julian is at his best — in the biggest moments.”