In honor of Julian Edelman retiring as a Patriot I wanted to write about a game that most Patriots fans have purged from their minds (for good reason): the 2009 AFC Wildcard game between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens.
To set the scene, the Patriots finished the season 10-6, but hadn’t exactly finished the season strong going 3-3 down the stretch. Some would consider this a rebuilding year, as not much remained from the record-setting 2007 team, but the core was still there. Welker and Moss both had over 1,200 yards receiving, so there was hope for another deep playoff run.
Until week 17 in Houston vs the Texans when Wes Welker crumpled to the turf with a knee injury that would end his season.
A Baltimore Beatdown
So the Patriots (literally?) limped into a first round matchup against a familiar foe. And the game got out of hand early. Very early. The first offensive play from scrimmage saw Ray Rice run untouched 83 yards for a TD, and the Ravens would never trail for the rest of the afternoon. Three plays later Brady is strip-sacked by Terrrell Suggs and the Ravens scored another TD. By the end of the first quarter the score would be 24-0 Baltimore. Game over.
Except for Julian Edelman.
This was Edelman’s rookie season, having been drafted in the 7th round of the 2009 draft. He was drafted to play WR, a position he hadn’t played in college (he was the starting QB for Kent State). He caught his first TD from Brady in week 10, in another game overshadowed by a Patriots loss (does “4th & 2” mean anything to you?).
And in true Edelman fashion, he refused to let off the gas, no matter what the situation. In fact, opening the scoring for the Patriots early in the 2nd quarter was none other than a Brady to Edelman TD that we’d see much more of in the coming years.
Down 24-7 nearing halftime, we get our first glimpse of the doggedness that came to exemplify the beloved receiver.
Late in the third quarter, still down 27-7, Brady again finds Edelman for a play that looked eerily familiar to another famous playoff TD between the 2 players.
And then, with the game out of reach in the 4th quarter and the Patriots facing 4th & 7, Julian Edelman does something special.
Sadly, the effort was for naught because a penalty called on Matt Slater negated the play. Setting up a 4th & 17 that couldn’t possibly be converted. Right? Let’s see what Edelman had to say.
That’s right. Fighting until the end, this game personified who Julian Edelman would become. The heart of the 2nd half of the Patriots dynasty. Super Bowl MVP, receiver of the greatest catch in the greatest comeback in NFL history. But even from day 1, Edelman always played the game his way.