There’s no doubt what Julian Edelman means to the Patriots’ offense, how much quarterback Tom Brady relies on his veteran receiver, and what that diminutive self-described “squirrel” is willing to put his body through to be on the football field.
But even the best players can make debilitating mistakes, and Sunday night in Baltimore, Edelman made one of the most crucial miscues in his team’s first loss of the season, a 37-20 defeat to the Ravens.
It came on the first drive of the third quarter, when the Patriots were looking to complete one of Bill Belichick’s favorite in-game maneuvers, the double score across halftime.
Having tacked a field goal onto the score sheet just before the half (Belichick elected to kick the 22-yarder rather than going for it on fourth and 1 in part because he knew he would get the ball to start the second half), the Patriots opened with the makings of a good drive, moving from their own 25-yard line to the Ravens’ 39 in seven plays.
But on the eighth, after Brady hit Edelman with a 9-yard completion, Edelman tried to get at least one more yard.
Instead, the ball was stripped from his grip by Patrick Onwuasor, picked up by Marlon Humphrey, and returned 70 yards for a touchdown.
Though the Patriots would answer with a touchdown on their next drive, they never again were in position to tie or take the lead.
“He was trying to get yards,” Brady said. “I was happy with the way we responded, we came back and scored again.”
In other words — don’t blame Edelman. There were more than enough mistakes to go around in this game.
“Julian’s a warrior,” fellow receiver Phillip Dorsett said. “I’ll go to war with him 11 times out of 10. It’s football. These things happen.”