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.”

Sunday Night Football odds favor Patriots hosting unbeaten Chiefs

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It’s rare for an unbeaten team to be an underdog this far into the NFL season, and the Kansas City Chiefs have thrived when they get points.

The New England Patriots, led by Tom Brady, are 3.5-point favorites on the Sunday Night Football odds against Kansas City with a 59.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The line isn’t entirely based on mystique, as the OddsShark NFL Database shows that the Patriots are 10-0 straight-up and 9-1 against the spread in their last 10 home games with an average winning margin of 16.0 points, as well as 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games at night. However, the Chiefs and dynamic young quarterback Patrick Mahomes II also have some eye-popping trends, such as being 7-1 SU and ATS in their last eight games as an underdog.

The Chiefs, who have covered every week this season, are also 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games after consecutive ATS wins.

Kansas City, which is 5-0 SU and ATS on the year, has not been contained offensively for four quarters this season, with Mahomes showing one of the livest passing arms the NFL has seen since Aaron Rodgers came into the league. Mahomes and his blocking group will be facing a limited pass rush with the third-fewest sacks in the NFL, although New England is holding opponents to 6.6 yards per pass, third-best in the league.

Running back Kareem Hunt torched the Patriots during a Kansas City win in 2017, and the Patriots’ focus on tight end Travis Kelce could create favorable matchups for Tyreek Hill. The bottom line is that the Chiefs have the capability to win a shootout.

Only three quarterbacks under age 25 have defeated the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the Bill Belichick era – the Baltimore Ravens’ Joe Flacco and the New York Jets’ Mark Sanchez in 2009 and 2010 playoff games, and Colin Kaepernick in 2012 when the San Francisco 49ers were an eventual Super Bowl runner-up.

New England, which is 3-2 SU and 3-2 ATS, typically rounds into form around this stage of this season, as evidenced by a record of 10-2 SU and 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 home games in October. Brady’s offense is facing a Chiefs defense that is hollowed-out at a linebacker and safety with Justin Houston (hamstring) and Eric Berry (heel) both considered doubtful.

The Chiefs have allowed the most yards in the NFL and New England, based on its track record, should be closer to the sum of its parts in the passing phase with tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receivers Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon playing their second game of the season together.

Kansas City’s defensive issues could affect the total, although perhaps not in the way one might expect. The Chiefs are yielding an NFL-worst 5.8 yards per rush and the Patriots may try to grind down the tempo with Brady’s short passing game and runs by rookie running back Sony Michel.

The total has gone OVER in 10 of the Chiefs’ last 14 games at night. The total has gone OVER in six of the Chiefs’ last eight road games as the underdog. The total has gone OVER in seven of the Patriots’ last 10 games at home against teams with winning records.

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 Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

How to watch Chiefs vs. Patriots on Sunday Night Football

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The New England Patriots are set to host the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs in a heavyweight showdown on Sunday Night Football, which airs Sunday at 8:20 p.m. ET.

Tom Brady and the Patriots (3-2) come into this big matchup on a two-game winning streak after taking care of business against the Dolphins and Colts at home. More importantly, New England’s offense is starting to hit its stride after trading for wide receiver Josh Gordon and getting wide receiver Julan Edelman back from suspension. Those two weapons, combined with tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back James White, and the emergence of rookie running back Sony Michel give Brady plenty of options in the passing game. However, it remains to be seen if they can keep up with the high-scoring Chiefs.

More coverage of Sunday Night Football

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs (5-0) have taken the NFL by storm. Mahomes began the season by throwing touchdowns at a record pace (13 through Week 3) and didn’t throw his first interception until he faced the vaunted Jaguars defense in Week 5. Similar to Brady, the second-year gunslinger has a plethora of weapons at his disposal, including running back Kareem Hunt and tight end Travis Kelce, in addition to wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins. With so much offensive firepower on both sides of the field, this game could come down to whichever quarterback gets the ball last.

Pregame coverage of Chiefs-Patriots and a recap of Week 6 begins with Football Night in America at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC.

How to watch Sunday Night Football:

What: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots

When: Sunday, October 14, 2018

Football Night in America: 7:00 p.m. ET

SNF kickoff: 8:20 p.m ET

Where to watch: NBC, or right here