The New England Patriots’ offense was stuck in neutral for much of its game against the Philadelphia Eagles: the unit finished the day with just 298 total yards and 19 first downs, while having to punt the football eight times and putting just 17 points on the board. The performance was ultimately enough to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles, but there were few highlights to talk about when analyzing the game. One, however, stands out.
The opening possession of the third quarter saw the Patriots increase the tempo and move the football down the field well. They gained 54 yards on the first four plays of the series, but once more struggled in the red zone — at least until facing a 3rd and 11 from Philadelphia’s 15 yard line. Quarterback Tom Brady aligned in a shotgun formation on the down, and threw a quick pass to Julian Edelman on the left side of the formation.
The pass, however, was a lateral which allowed Edelman to do what he has done five previous times over the course of his 10.5-year career: sling it. The veteran receiver, who finished the game against Philadelphia with a team-high five catches for 53 yards, did just that and found fellow wideout Phillip Dorsett open in the end zone on a crossing route for what turned out to be the Patriots’ only touchdown of the day.
“I just do what the coaches ask me. I don’t go to the coach and say ‘yo throw me the ball,’” said Edelman about the play that resulted in the second passing touchdown of his career (the first came during the 2014 playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens). The former Kent State quarterback certainly seemed happy about getting another opportunity to serve as a passer: “It’s cool. They trust me to go throw the ball. It’s fun to throw the pill sometimes.”
With the play, Edelman now brought his regular season passing statistics to four completions on four attempts for a combined 90 yards and a touchdown. He also attempted two throws in the postseason, completing one of them — the one versus the Ravens — for a 51-yard touchdown. Most importantly, however, the reigning Super Bowl MVP provided a spark for an offense that struggled to consistently move the football.
The play itself was well executed by all involved, as both quarterback Tom Brady — “He made a great throw. It was a great play. We needed it.” — and head coach Bill Belichick pointed out during their respective press conferences after the Patriots’ hard-fought victory in Philadelphia: “Good read on the play: checked the crosser, it was open. We had another option on the play but he made a good decision,” Belichick said.
“Keeps his quarterback rating up there pretty high. I’m sure we’ll have to ice his shoulder down this week and massage it and everything else,” joked the future Hall of Famer whose team now sits at 9-1 in part because of Edelman’s touchdown. “It was a great play by Julian. There were a couple of options on the play, a lot of ball-handling involved there, [but] he got his eyes downfield, made a good decision, a good throw, and it was a big catch by Phil.”