Yesterday, news broke that New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola is expected to leave the team after five seasons and two Super Bowl victories. The veteran free agent will sign a two-year, $12.0 million contract with the Miami Dolphins and as a result leave the Patriots without one of their most dependable players – one that has earned a reputation for coming through in the clutch.
Throughout his career in New England, the 32-year old has made big play after big play whenever his team needed him to make them. In honor of Amendola, we therefore present 10 of his most clutch moments (in strict chronological order).
2013: Week 1 at Buffalo Bills
Amendola's first-ever regular season contest with the Patriots after joining the team via free agency gave a glimpse of what he would bring to the table: Despite suffering a groin injury, he finished the contest with 104 yards on 10 receptions – four of which on the game's final drive. The biggest catch of the series came on a 3rd and 8, when Amendola was able to snag a tipped pass for a gain of 10 yards:
The reception kept what would turn out to be the Patriots' game-winning field goal drive alive.
2014: Week 7 vs New York Jets
His second year in New England started quiet for Amendola but he still had some standout moments. One of the most noteworthy ones came in week seven, when the Patriots found themselves in a close game against the New York Jets. Up one midway through the final period, the team was driving to expand its lead but saw the drive start to stall before a first and goal from the 19-yard line. What happened next was what can now be described as vintage-Amendola:
After the game, then-Jets head coach Rex Ryan sarcastically referred to Amendola's route as the “greatest in the history of the game”.
2014: Divisional playoffs vs Baltimore Ravens
Coming off a regular season during which he caught only 27 passes for 200 yards, Amendola had a breakout performance in the Patriots' divisional round meeting against the Ravens. The game – an epic battle between two heavyweight opponents – saw New England overcome two 14-point deficits, with the second of the two gaps being closed by the game's signature play:
Julian Edelman's pass to Amendola was one of five receptions and two touchdowns he had that day – his first of many spectacular postseason performances.
2014: Super Bowl XLIX vs Seattle Seahawks
While Amendola's first Super Bowl performance was the least impressive of his three title games, he still played a big role in helping his team win 28-24 against the Seattle Seahawks. Overall, he caught five passes for 48 yards and helped the Patriots erase a 10-point fourth quarter deficit – at the time the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history – with a touchdown catch on a 2nd and goal:
Not as spectacular as other catches on this list, the play is still a perfect example of what made Amendola such a productive player in New England: He read the defense perfectly and was on the same page as Tom Brady before making a tough reception in crunch time. Basically, Amendola in nutshell.
2015: Week 10 at New York Giants
After New England's number one receiver Julian Edelman went down with a foot injury early in the game against the Giants, Amendola showed that he can be counted on to play a larger role within the Patriots offense. He finished with 79 yards on 10 receptions – the biggest of which coming on fourth down with a little over a minute left in the game:
Amendola's 12-yard gain on 4th and 10 kept a drive alive that would end with a last-second field goal to give New England a 27-26 victory in New York.
2016: Week 1 at Arizona Cardinals
Even when Tom Brady was not throwing passes, Amendola displayed his ability to rise to the occasion. Such was the case on opening day 2016, when Jimmy Garoppolo made his first start in place of the suspended Hall of Famer. On the day, Amendola caught three passes with this catch being the most memorable:
Converting on a 3rd and 15 played a key role in New England kicking the eventual game-winning field goal later in the drive – and starting the 2016 campaign with momentum on its side.
2016: Super Bowl LI vs Atlanta Falcons
The greatest Super Bowl comeback in NFL history saw plenty of clutch plays by New England in all three phases of the game. Naturally, Amendola was featured heavily as well: Down 28-3 midway through Super Bowl LII's third quarter, for example, the Patriots found themselves in a do-or-die situation. Unsurprisingly, Tom Brady to his trusted wideout to convert the 4th and 3:
Amendola catching the quick out for a fresh set of downs set up New England's first touchdown of the day. In the fourth quarter, with the Patriots close to tying the game, the veteran made yet another huge play by converting what is arguably the biggest two-point attempt in the franchise history:
The score tied the contest at 28 and set up the first overtime period in Super Bowl history. Amendola had another big catch in extra time and New England went on to win 34-28.
2017: Week 3 vs Houston Texans
When Julian Edelman tore his ACL during the 2017 preseason, Amendola was again asked to take over as Tom Brady's go-to receiver. And again he rose up to the challenge and delivered some memorable moments in the process. One of which came against the Texans, when New England – down 33-28 – found itself in a 3rd and 18 situation with under a minute left in the game. The team turned to one of its most trusted clutch performers to convert:
Amendola's 27-yard catch set up the Patriots at the Texans 25-yard line. One play later the team scored the game-winning touchdown.
2017: AFC Championship Game vs Jacksonville Jaguars
In terms of receptions and yardage gained, Danny Amendola's AFC title game performance was the least impressive of his 2017 playoff run. However, he did as he does and made multiple big plays during the Patriots' 10-point fourth quarter deficit. The first came midway through the fourth period, when New England needed to convert a 3rd and 18:
Amendola was able to attack the soft spot behind the linebackers' and the safeties' zones and caught the laser for a gain of 21 yards. The catch set up Amendola's fifth postseason touchdown and kept the Patriots' comeback hopes alive – a comeback that was completed on the veteran wideout's second scoring catch of the day:
Brady placed the football perfectly to where only his wide receiver was able to make a play on the football – and he did. The touchdown put New England ahead 24-20 and secured a spot in another Super Bowl; one during which Amendola had another spectacular performance by catching eight passes for 152 yards.
And even though the Patriots came up short in Super Bowl LII – Amendola's final game with the franchise –, the 32-year old showed what has made him one of Tom Brady's most trusted wide receivers: an ability to elevate his game in the clutch few NFL players have. As a result, Danny Amendola leaves New England a fan favorite and two-time Super Bowl champion.
It sure was a memorable run.