The number stitched on Julian Edelman’s jersey serves as a reminder of how many players stand ahead of him on the NFL’s all-time postseason receptions list.
Among the group are six current Hall of Famers, a couple soon-to-be ones, as well as the most prolific playoff pass-catcher the New England Patriots have ever rostered.
But Edelman, now 30 years old and eight campaigns into his tenure in Foxborough, isn’t out of place. He isn’t far behind most of the names residing ahead of him, either. The wideout has caught 68 passes in postseason action, and with just two receptions in next Saturday’s divisional-round bout against the Houston Texans, he’ll have eclipsed Wes Welker for the most playoff receptions in Patriots franchise history while moving into a tie for eighth-most all-time in league history.
MOST PLAYOFF RECEPTIONS
Jerry Rice: 151 catches
Reggie Wayne: 93 catches
Wes Welker, Hines Ward: 88 catches
Michael Irvin: 87 catches
Andre Reed: 85 catches
Thurman Thomas: 76 catches
Cliff Branch: 73 catches
Fred Biletnikoff, Anquan Boldin: 70 catches
Art Monk: 69 catches
Julian Edelman: 68 catches
Three players on the list caught passes for multiple playoff teams. Rice is one of them. Bolden, the lone other active player, is another. And in between them sits Welker.
Welker racked up 69 receptions over nine playoff games as a member of the Patriots and gathered a third-ranked 88 in all through his final years with the Denver Broncos. He did so over 13 career playoff games.
This weekend’s 8:15 p.m. ET kickoff at Gillette Stadium will also happen to mark the 13th of Edelman’s career.
Organizational longevity certainly hasn’t hurt Edelman’s opportunities to build a postseason resume. The Patriots haven’t missed the playoffs since the former seventh-round draft pick arrived in 2009. But, with the exception being his rookie season, which saw him snare two touchdowns in a 33-13 wild-card loss to the Baltimore Ravens while Welker was sidelined with a torn ACL and MCL, Edelman did not emerge as an integral part of New England’s aerial attack until the latter signed elsewhere in 2013.
He’s made up ground since then.
EDELMAN BY POSTSEASON
2009: One game, six catches
2010: One game, one catch
2011: Three games, two catches
2012: Injured reserve
2013: Two games, 16 catches
2014: Three games, 26 catches
2015: Two games, 17 catches
After tallying nine receptions through his initial five playoff contests, and then missing the Super Bowl XLVI run, Edelman has amassed 59 through his last seven.
There have been few letups during that torrid span. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound flanker, checking in with 61-, 92-, 98-, and 105-catch regular seasons in the books, has recorded no less than six catches in each of New England’s playoff games dating back to 2013.
He’s recorded at least nine in four of them.
Yards and points have inevitably followed that high volume of targets from quarterback Tom Brady. Edelman has turned those looks into 607 yards and two touchdowns over the last three postseasons alone. But the receptions themselves have been what’s catalyzed the rest.
And with each passing one, No. 11 finds himself among fewer than the last.