Alright, so I understand that it’s April, and there is a lot of stuff going on.
The NFL Draft is just a few weeks away. The Patriots just made a blockbuster trade, sending Brandin Cooks, their No. 1 receiver from a year ago, to the Rams for the 23rd pick in the draft. They signed a new receiver – Jordan Matthews – less than 48 hours later (yet another gift from the Buffalo Bills). The Patriots are looking at quarterbacks to groom under the greatest quarterback of all time. Superhero Julian Edelman is preventing mass shootings.
There’s a lot going on in football-land. I get it. But it’s also the offseason, which means it’s the perfect time to allow yourself to get swept up by an out-of-nowhere craze of nostalgia. I do it all the time. Living in the past is actually healthy for your soul, unless you’re a Cleveland Browns fan. So, by all means, if Robert Kraft can date women half his age and nobody bats an eye, then by golly, I can get nostalgic about the Patriots of the past in the middle of April.
Nostalgia set in for me a little bit over the last 48 hours in the heat of the Cooks deal, and has stuck with me up until earlier today when the Pats signed Matthews. Now everyone is discussing what New England’s receiving corps will look like in 2018. All of the discussion about wide receivers turned my brain into a peanut-sized time machine, and then suddenly transported me back in time to the most intense non-Super Bowl playoff game of my Pats fandom.
I’m talking about Patriots vs. Ravens, Divisional Round, January 2015. That game was like a roller coaster on steroids. The Pats trailed by 14 points not once, but TWICE. Both times they came back to tie it up, eventually winning 35-31.
Why did all of the talk about New England’s wide receivers bring me back to this game? Because this was the game in which Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola – New England’s two most clutch wide receivers of the last five years – pulled off the picture-perfect trick play that kept the 2014 season alive for the Patriots.
You remember how it went down. The Pats were trailing 28-21 in the third quarter, trying to somehow battle back again after the Ravens had stepped on their throats for the second time in the game (god, I hate the Ravens). And then, with the brilliant Josh McDaniels – a.k.a. Indiana’s most wanted – looking on from the sideline, it all just unfolded in a perfect, beautiful, gorgeous, magnificent sequence. Brady tossed the ball slightly backwards to Edelman, who then reintroduced his cannon arm to the world by hurling the ball down field to Amendola, catching him in stride for the touchdown.
“The old Kent State quarterback!” Cris Collinsworth gleefully chuckled during the broadcast, referring to Edelman. “They have been keeping that one under wraps for a loooong time!”
Indeed they had, Cris. Indeed they had. New score: 28-28. You can watch the entire thing right here if you want to, and you know you do.
I didn’t actually get to watch that game on TV. I had stupidly made a commitment to attend a hockey game on the same night as a Patriots playoff game (I earned extra bozo points for that decision). You can imagine my confusion when I checked my phone for score updates and read TOUCHDOWN PASS FROM EDELMAN TO AMENDOLA.
Edelman to Amendola? Did I have too much to drink?
Fortunately, I DVR’d the game at home and was able to watch it in its entirety the next day. Other than the Super Bowl games, that game remains the single most intense playoff game the Patriots have played in since I’ve been a football fan (the AFC title game in Denver the following year is a very close second, but that’s a story for a different day).
My point of this whole thing? The Pats would’ve never won that game if it hadn’t been for the dazzling trick play execution of those two wide receivers. It was more beautiful than Larry Bird’s jump shot, or Chris Sale’s devastating slider, or Kate Upton’s Instagram page. It was, without a doubt, a season-saver.
Anyway, since the wide receiver action in New England over the last two days randomly had me feeling nostalgic about a playoff game from three years ago, I figured I would share that nostalgia with you. To any Pats fans reading this who have had a rough day today, hopefully thinking back to that game brightened your day a little bit.
Alright, now back to serious business – like envisioning Lamar Jackson starting at QB for the Pats in three years.