By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Julian Edelman called it a career on Monday after an incredible 12-year run with the New England Patriots. It’s a career that will someday become a Disney movie, with Edelman going from a college quarterback drafted in the seventh round to a game-changing wide receiver with three Super Bowl rings.
He hauled in 738 catches and 41 touchdowns during the regular and postseason, but he did a lot of everything for the Patriots. He was a gifted kick returner early in his career and even dabbled on the defensive side when New England was in a pinch. He walks away from football with plenty of amazing plays for Patriots and football fans to look back on — almost too many to choose.
But we’ve managed to whittle it down to 11 plays that we’ll always remember from No. 11:
11. Preseason Punt Return
Edelman gave us a glimpse of what was to come with a 75-yard punt return in his first ever preseason game. It prompted Bill Belichick to ask Wes Welker if he had ever heard of Wally Pipp. Welker had not, but he probably didn’t like what he found after a quick Google search.
10. Breakout In Houston
The day that Welker tore his ACL at the end of the 2009 season was the day that Edelman broke out as a pass-catcher. Edelman was Tom Brady’s favorite target that day (providing New England fans a glimpse into the future) with 16 targets, and he hauled in 10 receptions for 103 yards in the loss to the Texans.
9. Doing It All Against Indy
The 2012 season wasn’t a great one for Edelman, as injuries forced him to miss seven games, including the last four of the regular season the playoffs. But he absolutely crushed the Colts in Week 10, and did so in nearly every offensive aspect.
He had five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. He had a 47-yard run. He forced a fumble on a kick return. The man did it all in New England’s 59-24 beatdown.
8. Playing Defense
The Patriots defense was a bit of a mess in 2011, and Bill Belichick ended up asking Edelman to take some snaps at defensive back throughout the year. Edelman was up to the challenge and had 18 tackles and a pair of QB hits during the regular season. He ended up playing both sides of the ball in the AFC Championship Game against the Ravens, playing 27 defensive snaps and covering Anquan Boldin in the slot, in a 23-20 New England victory.
7. His Last Big Game
Edelman was only able to play in six games last season, but one of his final games in a Patriots uniforms was also one of his finest. In a Week 2 loss in Seattle, he caught eight passes for a career-high 179 yards.
6. Record-Setting Punt Return
Edelman closed New England’s 2010 regular season with a bang, returning a punt 94 yards for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins. It broke the franchise record for longest punt return.
5. Moving The Chains In The AFC Championship Game
Before he could bring home Super Bowl MVP honors in Super Bowl LIII, Edelman was an integral part of New England’s comeback in Kansas City. Of his seven receptions against the Chiefs, six of them moved the chains. Four of those first-down catches came in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Edelman had a knack for torching the Chiefs in the playoffs. In the 2015 Divisional Round, he had 10 receptions for 100 yards in a 27-20 Patriots win over KC.
4. Super Bowl LIII MVP
There wasn’t much offense in New England’s last Super Bowl victory, but nearly all of that offense came from Jules. Edelman took it right to the Rams and caught 10 passes for 141 yards to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.
3. The Touchdown Pass
This one nearly tore down Gillette Stadium. With the Patriots trailing the Ravens 28-21 in the 2014 AFC Divisional Round, Edelman threw the perfect 51-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola to tie the game. The Patriots went on to win the game 35-31 and a few weeks later, won Super Bowl XLIX.
Edelman was a perfect passer during his Patriots career, going 6-for-6 for 128 yards, a touchdown and a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
2. Super Bowl Game-Winner
While Super Bowl XLIX will forever be remembered for Malcolm Butler’s game-saving interception, Edelman is the one who scored the go-ahead/game-winning touchdown for New England.
But before he could catch that game-winner, he had to shake off this monster hit from Kam Chancellor early in the fourth quarter:
Edelman survived that blow somehow, and just ahead of the two-minute warning, he hauled in the game-winning touchdown for the Patriots:
Julian Edelman: Gamer.
1. The Catch
It’s one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history — if not the greatest catch in Super Bowl history.
Just watch and marvel. It’s all you really can do with a catch like this.
The more you watch it, the more amazing it is. What a play during an incredible football career by Julian Edelman.