They owed ’em one: Julian Edelman collects on crazy catch for Patriots

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HOUSTON (AP) You could say the Super Bowl owed `em one. Julian Edelman was the man to collect.

The Patriots receiver made a catch for both the highlight reels and the history books Sunday – a once-in-a-lifetime grab that pushed New England’s record-setting Super Bowl comeback into overdrive, and one every bit as amazing as what David Tyree of the Giants did nine years earlier to break all those Patriots’ hearts.

Edelman’s catch was the highlight of New England’s 91-yard drive that tied the game near the end of regulation on the way to a 34-28 overtime win over Atlanta.

Edelman somehow got his red-gloved hands pinned up against, and then underneath, a Tom Brady pass that bounced off Atlanta cornerback Robert Alford’s hands, hit off his knee, his shin. It almost fell to the turf.

Only it didn’t.

“I knew I caught it,” Edelman said. “I felt like I had it. I didn’t know if maybe a piece of the ball was touching. I don’t know what the dang rule is. Nobody knows what the rule is for a catch. I was like, `I’m pretty sure I caught it.'”

Review upheld the 23-yard reception, the video clearly showing Edelman first pinning the ball against Alford’s foot, then getting his hands underneath the pigskin as it bounced off the defender.

It gave New England the ball at the Atlanta 41 with 2:03 left in regulation. The rest of this game almost felt academic.

“Quite a competitor,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said of his do-everything receiver, who catches, runs, returns punts and, on this day, even threw one (incomplete) pass. “I think to win a game like that after falling behind by so much, you need a few plays like that.”

The Patriots, who trailed 28-3 in the third quarter, scored the last five times they had the ball, including on James White’s game-winning 2-yard run to cap an easy 75-yard drive on the first possession of overtime.

All that transformed Alford from a possible Super Bowl MVP into possibly the most unlucky guy on the Falcons. Late in the first half, he had a pick-6 on Brady that went 82 yards and gave Atlanta a 21-0 lead.

Then this.

“At the end of the day, all you can control is what you can control,” Alford said. “I saw he made the play. I saw him come down with it. I saw my foot and the ball when he got his hands underneath it. Sometimes, there’s nothing more you can do.”

The catch helped Brady the Patriots capture title No. 5 – a number that would’ve been bigger had it not been for what the Giants did to them nine seasons ago.

Back then, it was Eli Manning somehow breaking away from a sack and heaving the ball downfield to Tyree, the near-forgotten receiver who somehow pinned the ball against his helmet and came down for the catch for a 32-yard gain that moved the ball to the New England 24. It was the highlight play of the game-winning drive that ended New England’s quest for an undefeated season and kept the Patriots stuck on three titles.

Four years after that, Mario Manningham made a tiptoe-on-the-sideline catch to start another game-winning drive for the Giants.

Then, two years ago, a falling Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse caught a ball that ricocheted off his thigh to give Seattle the ball at the 6-yard line within easy range of the late go-ahead touchdown. Malcolm Butler saved the game with an interception and New England held on for title No. 4.

No. 5 came courtesy of Edelman, who joined the Patriots two years after the first disappointment against the Giants.

He finished with five catches for 87 yards, including one nobody will ever forget.

“One of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen,” Brady said. “We’ve been on the other side of that a few times before, and Julian came up huge on the other end of it. He had a helluva game.”

NFL Thanksgiving Day betting guide: Odds, trends for trio of matchups

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Whether the Dallas Cowboys can break both their funk and a trend of failing to cover against sub-.500 teams might hinge largely on the status of one man – left tackle Tyron Smith.

The Cowboys host a pick-’em on Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers with a 48-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The OddsShark NFL Database notes that the Cowboys are an underwhelming 4-12 against the spread in their last 16 home games against teams with losing records like Los Angeles, so having Smith (back/groin) return from a two-game absence will be paramount against a Chargers team that has one of the NFL’s best pass rushes, led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

The Chargers are 4-6 straight-up and 5-4-1 ATS, but with veteran QB Philip Rivers’ savvy they are good on short weeks, sporting a 4-1 ATS mark in their last five Thursday games. The Cowboys, who are 5-5 both SU and ATS, could impose their will on the Chargers in the rushing phase. Alfred Morris has been a bright spot with Ezekiel Elliott injured, and Dallas leads the NFL in yards per rush while Los Angeles gives up the most yards per rush.

The total has gone over in three of the Chargers’ last four games against the Cowboys. The total has gone over in seven of the Cowboys’ last nine games in the late afternoon.

Earlier on Thursday, the Minnesota Vikings are three-point road favorites against the Detroit Lions, with a 44.5 total.

The Vikings are 8-2 SU and 6-4 ATS, and bettors will have to decide whether to give more weight toward their head-to-head showing against the Lions – 0-3 SU in their last three – or a 6-0 SU streak that began after a Week 4 home loss against Detroit. The favored team is just 3-9 ATS in the last 12 games of this matchup. The Lions, who QB Matthew Stafford has led to a 6-4 SU and 5-4-1 ATS record, have shown a tendency to hit their stride in late November. They are 8-0 SU and ATS in their last eight home games in November.

The total has gone under in seven of the last eight games in this matchup.

And the Washington Redskins are set as 7.5-point favorites against the New York Giants, with a 44.5 total in the primetime matchup on Thursday.

The main question with the Giants and QB Eli Manning, who are 2-8 SU and 4-6 ATS, is whether they maintain the same urgency they had in Week 11 when they upset the Kansas City Chiefs, assuaging the pressure on head coach Ben McAdoo. The form suggests that’s unlikely, as New York is 2-7-1 ATS in its last 10 road games. The Redskins, who are 4-6 both SU and ATS, should rate a good shot at putting up a point total somewhere in the high 20s, since QB Kirk Cousins is playing well and RB Samaje Perrine looks like a ready-made replacement for the injured Chris Thompson.

The total has gone under in eight of the Giants’ last 11 games against the Redskins. Whether that trend holds will come down to the chess match between the Giants offense (30th in scoring) and Redskins defense (31st in scoring defense).

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com

Eagles, Wentz Big Favorites Against Depleted Cowboys on Sunday Night

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Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles go into a road team-dominated rivalry game on Sunday night against a Dallas Cowboys opponent that struggles as a home underdog

The Eagles are listed as 4.5-point road favorites against the Cowboys with a 48-point total for the Week 11 Sunday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The visiting team is 6-2 straight-up in its last eight games in this NFC East matchup and 8-3 against the spread in the last 11. Dallas, which will not have key performers such as RB Ezekiel Elliott (suspension), LT Tryon Smith (groin, back) and LB Sean Lee (hamstring), is also an inauspicious 2-8 SU and 4-4-2 ATS in its last 10 games as the underdog at AT&T Stadium.

The first priority for the Eagles, who are 8-1 SU and 7-2 ATS, will be making sure RT Lane Johnson can contain DE Demarcus Lawrence, who already has 11.5 sacks. That’s easier said than done, but the Eagles have myriad rushing and short-passing threats they can use to slow up the Cowboys’ pass rush. Lee often shadows tight ends and running backs. If Philly’s leading receiver, TE Zach Ertz (hamstring, probable) is good to go, then the Eagles should have a well-balanced passing game.

The Cowboys give up a below-average 4.3 yards per rush and DT Maliek Collins (foot) could be missing from the interior of the front seven. Every bit of extra yardage the likes of Jay Ajayi grinds out will help Philadelphia, which is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in its last six games as a favorite of 5.0 or fewer points, avoid the obvious passing downs where Lawrence can tee off with a speed rush.

The Cowboys, who are 5-4 both SU and ATS, will need their second-year QB Dak Prescott to carry the load with his passing. Leading receiver Dez Bryant (ankle) will likely tough it out, but Philadelphia permits only 6.6 yards per pass (ninth in the NFL) and the pass coverage should get shored up by the return of CB Ronald Darby (ankle), who has been out for a month.

With no Elliott to hit the holes or Smith to open them, it’s hard to see how Dallas’ ground game will get traction against an elite Eagles defensive line fortified by DT Fletcher Cox and DE Brandon Graham. Philly allows only 3.6 yards per rush.

The total has gone over in six of the Eagles’ last eight games, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The total has gone under in nine of the Cowboys’ last 11 games as an underdog.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.