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 Preseason Odds: Eagles, Patriots among Week 1 betting favorites

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All streaks come to an end, and the Philadelphia Eagles take a lengthy one into their preseason opener against their cross-state counterpart.

The Eagles, with third-string Nate Sudfeld as the only healthy seasoned quarterback on the depth chart, are three-point favorites on the NFL preseason odds against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 33-point total for their exhibition matchup on Thursday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Eagles are 9-0 both straight-up and against the spread in their last nine preseason home games as they head into an opener where neither Carson Wentz (knee) or Nick Foles (neck) are expected to play. The Steelers, who will use QBs Landry Jones, Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph, are 4-8 SU and 5-7 ATS in their last 12 preseason road games.

Also Thursday, the New England Patriots are a three-point betting favorite against the Washington Redskins with a 37-point total. The total has gone UNDER in eight of the Redskins’ last 10 preseason road games. The Patriots are 4-6 ATS in their last 10 preseason home games as a favorite of three points or more.

The Cincinnati Bengals are two-point favorites against the Chicago Bears with a 35.5-point total. The total has gone UNDER in seven of Cincinnati’s last 10 preseason games as a home favorite.

The Miami Dolphins are a 1.5-point favorite against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a 34-point total. The Buccaneers are 7-2 ATS in their last nine preseason games against the Dolphins. The total has gone UNDER in 17 of the last 20 preseason games in this matchup.

The Cleveland Browns are a one-point road favorite against the New York Giants with a 35-point total. The total has gone UNDER in five of the Browns’ last seven preseason road games. The Giants are 4-8-1 ATS in their last 13 preseason home games.

The Green Bay Packers host the Tennessee Titans in a pick’em with a 34.5-point total. The Titans are 3-7 in their last 10 preseason road games. The Packers are 7-1 SU in their last eight preseason home games.

The San Francisco 49ers are a 3.5-point favorite against the Dallas Cowboys with a 35-point total. The Cowboys are 0-10 SU and 2-8 ATS in their last 10 preseason road games as an underdog of three points or more, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The total has gone UNDER in 10 of the 49ers’ last 12 preseason games as a favorite of three points or more.

The Oakland Raiders are a three-point favorite against the Detroit Lions with a 36-point total in a Friday matchup. The Lions are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 preseason road games. The Raiders are 1-10 ATS in their last 11 preseason games as a home favorite, with the total finishing OVER eight times.

The Denver Broncos host the Minnesota Vikings in a pick’em with a 34.5-point total in a Saturday contest. The Vikings are 6-2 SU and ATS in their last eight preseason games. The total has gone UNDER in six of the Broncos’ last eight preseason home games.

And the Arizona Cardinals are a 2.5-point favorite against the Los Angeles Chargers with a 36-point total. The Chargers are 2-8 SU and 4-6 ATS in their last 10 preseason road games. The Cardinals are 3-6 SU and ATS in their last nine preseason games as a home favorite.

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

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown says he’d never kneel during national anthem

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Jim Brown has spent much of his post-NFL career fighting for social justice and change.

However, the Hall of Fame running back says he would never kneel during the national anthem.

The 82-year-old Brown, who championed civil rights during his playing career and became an activist in retirement, said Tuesday night that he respects players’ rights to do what they want but his preference is they would stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“I’ll never kneel and I will always respect the flag,” said Brown, who spoke before an HBO premiere of “Hard Knocks,” which is chronicling the Cleveland Browns in training camp.

Brown was asked how he would resolve the anthem issue, which has shadowed the league for two years.

“Well, if you take the bottom line, what are we talking about? We’re talking about freedom to express one’s self, and if you don’t break any rules then you have that particular right,” he said.

“I am not going to denigrate my flag and I’m going to stand for the national anthem. I’m fighting with all of my strength to make it a better country, but I don’t think that’s the issue. Because what is the top side? Are you not going to stand up? This is our country, man.

“We work hard to make it better and that’s my attitude, so I don’t relate to this issue because it’s newsworthy because where are your superstars? And where are they at? Aren’t they making comments?”

Protests during the anthem have enveloped the league since former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest social injustice.

The NFL modified its anthem protocol in May, prohibiting demonstrations for 2018, but allowing players to remain in the locker room during the anthem.

The NFL Players Assn. filed a grievance, and the change has been tabled while the NFL and the union work on a resolution.