FOXBORO – There was a time Julian Edelman was the heir apparent, the student to Wes Welker’s teacher as the latter built up his Hall of Fame resume.
When Welker eventually left the Patriots, it was going to be the equally small and quick Edelman that inherited his position as go-to slot receiver, and when Bill Belichick and crew punished No. 83 in past years, it was Edelman that took his spot.
Well, that plan never came to fruition. Edelman fell out of favor after missing the final eight games of last season with an injury, and once Welker moved on to Denver, Danny Amendola was brought in to replace him.
But with his former mentor in the house last night, Edelman channeled his inner Welker, sparking the Patriots offense with one of the best games of his career as the Patriots rallied back from a 24-point halftime deficit to beat Denver 34-31 in overtime on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
In what was supposed to be the contest between the Patriots’ old slot receiver (Welker) and the man who many hope will be Welker 2.0 (Amendola), it turned out to be another slot man that stole the spotlight.
Edelman stepped up for game MVP honors, catching nine passes for 110 yards — all but two yards in the second half and overtime and both game-highs — and a pair of touchdowns when it was needed most.
Welker, on the other hand, proved to be a virtual non-factor for Denver, catching just four passes for an inconsequential 31 yards and adding a crucial fourth quarter drop. Amendola was a total no-show, catching three passes for 17 yards.
Those two scores went for the first two-touchdown day of Edelman’s career, and matched his total for the season. Meanwhile, it was his most yards since going for 118 yards during the Week 4 win over Atlanta and his most catches since 13 in a Week 2 win over the Jets.