BOSTON (CBS) – Julian Edelman did it all for the Patriots on Sunday.
Punt return for a touchdown? Check.
Catch a touchdown pass from Tom Brady? Check.
Break a 47-yard run out of the backfield? Check.
Plain and simple, Edelman made plays against the Indianapolis Colts, and helped the Patriots put up 21 of their 59 points on Sunday. While he didn’t score on his 47-yard run in the second half, Stevan Ridley found the end zone from three yards out on the very next play.
It was the breakout game Edelman has been looking for all season.
“[I] had some opportunities to make some plays and was fortunate that it went my way today,” he said after the win. “We executed a few plays in special teams. [The] defense played well. We played overall a complementary football game. It was a good team win and we have a short week now and we have got to move on for the Jets.”
In addition to his 68-yard punt return for a score — the third of his career — Edelman returned another punt 49 yards to help set up New England’s eighth and final touchdown of the day. For a special teams group that has been struggling to break a big play, Sunday was a very gratifying day.
“I’ll tell you right now, we’ve been working real hard as a unit to get that done and create an explosion play on the punt return unit,” said Edelman. “Those guys, they’ve been working their tails off and they executed what they had to do—held up their guys—we got the gunners and as a punt returner you have to make one miss—and finish blocks and we did that. So it was a good overall execution of a play.”
Edelman finished the afternoon with 117 yards on two punt returns, five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown, and the one rush for 47 yards. His five catches were the most since Week 2 against the Cardinals when he caught five passes for 50 yards. He became the first Patriots player to score on a return and have a touchdown reception in the same game since Irving Fryar did it back in 1985.
It was clear the Patriots wanted to get Edelman more involved in the offense this season, but a Week 3 hand injury sidelined him for three weeks, and he had just three catches in his first three games back.
But he continued to work hard in practice, and when the opportunities came on Sunday he took advantage.
“He’s really worked hard to do everything to get back – the return game, passing game, slip screens, stuff like that, blocking. That was great,” head coach Bill Belichick said following the win. “He had obviously a real productive day. We needed that. It’s good. It’s good to complement some of the other production we had out there.”
Since being drafted by the Patriots in the in the seventh round back in 2009, Edelman has pretty much done everything for the Patriots. In addition to his work in the offense and on special teams, he played a little safety for an injury-plagued secondary in 2011. A former college quarterback, the 5-10 Edelman knows he has do it all in order to make his mark on the Patriots.
And he has no problem doing that.
“I just do what the coaches tell me to do. [I] try to go out there and execute any situation that they put me in and that’s my job on the team—to do what the coaches ask me to do and help try to contribute in any kind of way,” he said.