Whether it be overthrows, broken up passes and just drops while in space, the typically reliable combination of quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Julian Edelman was out of sorts for the first three quarters of Super Bowl LI.
But when New England needed a big play, Edelman delivered with a catch that will go down in NFL history, as it helped the Patriots win their fifth league championship with a 34-28 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday night.
Watch Edelman's moment below (app users WATCH HERE):
“I knew I got it. I felt like I had it,” Edelman said. “I knew I had a good feel on it. I didn’t know if a piece of the ball was touching. I don’t know what the dang rule is. No one knows what the rule is. I am pretty sure I caught it.”
With the Patriots facing a first and 10 at their own 36-yard line and needing a score plus the two-point conversion to draw even with the Falcons at 28-28 late in the fourth quarter, Brady again tried to fit the ball into a tight window to Edelman, who ran a crossing route over the middle of the field out of the right slot.
Initially, the pass was batted away by defensive back Robert Alford, but the ball ricocheted off of his right shin and into Edelman's hands.
The Falcons challenged the call of a catch, but a replay review showed Edelman not only secured the catch, but did not let the ball hit the ground at any point during the course of the play.
Four plays later, the Patriots were in the end zone and converted the ensuing two-point conversion to force overtime and seal the largest come-from-behind victory in NFL postseason history.
Teams with 19-plus point leads entering the final quarter were previously 93-0 in NFL postseason history.
PHOTOS: The Patriots celebrate winning Super Bowl LI
“The formula to beat a team like that is that you have to do well on third down, you can’t turn the ball over because they don’t turn it over that much,” Edelman said. “They’re a bend, (don’t) break defense. We knew we were going to be able get some yards, but they’re really good at stripping the ball. It’s from that whole Seattle program. They know things about the ball.
“If you don’t turn the ball over, you’re going to have a better chance to have opportunities to win the game. That’s what we were thinking, ‘Hey, let’s play one play at a time.’ We did that, and it just tells you how mentally tough this team is. We were down 25 points. It’s a microcosm of this season. We go through some adversity and we stick together. We were mentally tough, keep on pulling and keep on moving. We were able to finish on top at the end.”