There is no doubt about the resiliency of Julian Edelman, but the New England Patriots wide receiver took his toughness to another level in Week 16.
The New England Patriots are AFC East champions for the 11th consecutive season and while it took till Week 16 to accomplish that feat, the team has found its identity heading into a run at another Super Bowl berth.
Yes, the defense did its thing and the ground attack got going behind Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead. Tom Brady even showed some spirited toughness battling through an elbow ailment to throw for 271 yards and a touchdown.
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But, when it really comes down to who really sparked the Patriots’ 24-17 win over the playoff bound Buffalo Bills, look no further than Edelman.
You can debate if he is Hall-of-Fame worthy all you want, but Patriots fans and certainly Brady know how valuable this man is to the offense and that was showcased on a cold Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
Already battling injuries heading into the game, Julian Edelman toughed it out and suited up. With 5 receptions for 72 yards, it would seem like a typical game for the resilient wide receiver. But, after leaving the game due to a head injury and returning to the field, Edelman jolted his team to a comeback victory.
On his first play back on the field in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady and Julian Edelman connected on a 30-yard play that catapulted the team’s go ahead score. It wasn’t just the catch, but what he did after the catch that demonstrated his toughness and spirit in leading his team to victory.
New England Patriots head coach summed up Edelman’s impact on the field perfectly when asked about his receiver’s performance in the game.
"“He’s one of our top competitors. He always has been,” Belichick said following the game, via Patriots.com. “He was a great competitor his rookie year, and that’s transcended through his entire career – so, whether it’s been offense, defense, at times we played him on defense, special teams, blocking. I thought he set the tone a little bit in the game early with a couple of big blocks in the running game. So, I thought our receivers competed hard and blocked well. But, yeah, that’s Julian’s playing style and it’s what makes him a good player.”"
In all, it’s quite simple.
When Julian Edelman is on the field and healthy, the New England Patriots are a hard team to beat. He may not be the flashy outside receiver most think of when they envision Hall of Fame impact, but what he does on the field is definitely the mark of a player who is the best at his position.
Toughness, resiliency and tenacity all bottled up in a versatile player who is clutch when the game is on the line and leaves his all out there on the field. Tom Brady values him, the team as a whole value him and Patriots fans certainly know and value the importance of Jules in this offense. Going forward, he is the motor that will make this offensive machine tune up and take off once playoff time comes around.