Julian Edelman reaches two franchise milestones in win over Bills
|12.29.13 at 11:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — With all the injuries and departures that have taken place within the Patriots passing game following last season to this point in 2013 there remains one constant besides quarterback Tom Brady – wide receiver Julian Edelman.
Edelman continued his career-year Sunday, hauling in nine passes for 65 yards in the Patriots’ 34-20 win over the Bills at Gillette Stadium. Of Brady’s 14 completions, nine went to the fifth-year receiver, who completed his first full 16-game season since being drafted in 2009.
“I don’t think there’s ever been any question about Julian’s skills or his toughness or his competitiveness. Yeah, you’re right,” said head coach Bill Belichick, when asked if playing in a full season helped Edelman’s development. “This is the year he’s been able to stay on the field and certainly his production has paralleled his time on the field. He’s done a good job with his opportunities. He always practices hard, plays hard, prepares well. He’s always a tough guy you can count on from that standpoint and this year he’s been healthy.”
Being healthy was one of the main reasons for his breakout year, which saw him catch over 100 passes with a 12-yard reception in the second quarter. He entered the game with 96 catches and finished with 105, good for sixth on the all-time Patriots list for catches in a season. He became the first Patriots player not named Wes Welker to reach the milestone since 2001 and Troy Brown.
“I don’t know what the significance is,” Edelman said. “I do know that we went out there and played a pretty solid game. There were mess-ups, which, I mentally was the guy who screwed up that formation in that four-minute offense situation. I’m a little bummed about that, but it was definitely a good team-win and it was good to clinch that first-round bye.”
Edelman also eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark with a five-yard catch in the opening quarter, becoming just the 10th player in franchise history to do so, as he finished the year with 1,056. While the accolades are special, Edelman maintains helping the team win is more important.
“I mean, it’s cool and everything, but you really go out there and play for other things, like playing in the last game of the year and winning that game,” he said. “We put ourselves in an opportunity to go one step closer to that. It is definitely kind of cool, just with the road; it’s been a crazy road. It’s definitely been kind of cool.”
Playing in just 11, 15, 13, and nine games respectively in his first four years in the league due to injury or players ahead of him on the depth chart, Edelman’s record-breaking day did have some special meaning to him.
“A lot of things haven’t gone my way in the past, you know playing behind someone that’s doing really well or whether it’s injuries or not executing certain situations,’ he said. “But, it was kind of cool to get that today and more importantly it was great to go out there and win in those conditions against a team that has a solid defense and is almost built for those conditions with the way they play offense and the way they run and situationally play on third down and in the red area. So, it was definitely cool to do that.”
When asked if he felt any pressure being the most experienced receiver the team had coming into the season Edelman put things into perspective.
“I mean, that’s really not pressure. Pressure is when you have like $300 in your bank account, like five kids and $800 in bills. That’s pressure,” he said. “It was more of an opportunity. Around here, if you just do your job, you put in the work and you prepare you’ll be given an opportunity.”