HOUSTON — If wide receiver Julian Edleman hadn’t made that catch, the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history may never have happened, and the New England Patriots wouldn’t have been Super Bowl champions.
“It was one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “I don’t know how the hell he caught it.”
It’s a play that will be on highlight reels for years to come. It was 1st-and-10 from New England’s own 36, and the Patriots wide receiver, fighting off three Atlanta Falcons defenders — even going through the legs of one of them — somehow scooped up the ball before it hit the ground.
Atlanta challenged the pass completion ruling, but Edelman felt like he had it.
“I knew I had a good feel on it,” Edelman said. “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.”
Replays confirmed the call on the field. It was a catch, a catch that will forever live in Super Bowl lore.
Four plays later, New England scored, tying the game at 28 and forcing overtime.
“If we didn’t have it, we wouldn’t be where we are,” Patriots tackle Nate Solder said. “That was a crazy catch by Edelman. In real time you couldn’t even tell what happened, but when you saw the replay, it was unbelievable. It kind of rolled our way today.”
New England has been on the wrong end of spectacular plays. One of the most iconic happened in Super Bowl XLII in 2008, when New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree made a leaping catch on a deep throw from a scrambling Eli Manning. Tyree pinned the ball to his helmet to help set up the upset against the Patriots, who were trying to become the first team to go 19-0.
“Oh man, we were going crazy (on the sideline),” Patriots safety Duron Harmon said of Edelman’s grab on Sunday night. “It was great to get a crazy catch to go our way, you know? We’re usually on the other end of that — some type of miraculous catch.”
When asked if it was his best catch ever: “I don’t know,” Edelman said. “It was only good if we won the game. Thankfully we did.”
Here’s what other Patriots players are saying about the catch:
Running back James White: “I was actually right in front of him when he caught it. I was pretty sure he caught it. It was a big play in the game. It seems like there is one of those catches in every Super Bowl. I’m just glad it went our way this time.”
Wide receiver Chris Hogan: “I was outside running an under route. I saw Tom throw it up. Jules made an amazing play. I mean, I thought he caught it watching it live. That was incredible.”
Wide receiver Danny Amendola: “Unbelievable. It was an awesome catch. I don’t know how he did it. Catch of the night!”
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower: “That is the best catch that I’ve ever seen in person, hands down. I thought, I couldn’t even tell, ‘Did he catch that?’ Incredible, man. Really incredible.”
Defensive lineman Trey Flowers: “That unbelievable catch, right before the overtime, and I just knew if we go into overtime, we’re going to win, we’re the champs.”
Running back LeGarrette Blount: “I’ve never seen anything like that. That was probably something that will be one of the top 10 plays in Super Bowl history.”
Linebacker Rob Ninkovich: “Wow, that was an amazing catch. Just the concentration, everything about it. He did a great job to get his hands underneath it, and it was an amazing play.”
Defensive back Devin McCourty: “It was about time we got one of those crazy catches for ourselves. He put that behind the catch that (Falcons wide receiver) Julio (Jones) had on the sideline (earlier in the game) — two great catches. I said on the field to Logan (Ryan), ‘Why aren’t all these crazy catches happening to us?’ And then once Jules caught it, I turned around and said, ‘Finally, we got one.'”
Defensive end Chris Long: “A funny thing, the first thing that popped in my head was Tyree. As a fan of the game and watching as a football player, that magic kind of reversed. Julian is such a great player, that’s where hard work and focus meets luck. We deserved that luck.”