New England Patriots: Danny Amendola elevates play for postseason
By Brian Hines
When Week 17 ends, some like to say the real New England Patriots season begins. That is certainly true for wide receiver, Danny Amendola.
Danny Amendola signed a five-year, $31 million contract in 2013, appearing to be the guy to take over for Wes Welker, who departed to Denver. But in his five seasons in New England, Amendola has struggled to stay healthy and produce on the field.
Instead of the former Texas Tech Red Raider replacing Welker, former Kent State quarterback Julian Edelman fulfilled that role.
But Amendola has accomplished something that Welker never did in New England: win a Super Bowl. In fact, Amendola has won two Super Bowls in his five seasons as a Patriot and is a few victories away from his third.
During those two Super Bowl victories, Amendola has been a vital part of the team’s run. During some of the most clutch, pressure-filled situations, Brady and the Patriots have shown their faith in the 5’11” receiver.
Rewinding back to 2014, New England beat Baltimore and Indianapolis to reach the Super Bowl against Seattle. Amendola certainly faced his fair share of struggles in 2014, starting just four games while recording a mere 27 catches.
As the calendar flipped to the new year and the playoffs began, Amendola took off. In New England’s three playoff games, Amendola recorded 11 receptions for 137 yards and three touchdowns, countless times delivering in clutch situations.
In the Divisional Matchup against Baltimore, Amendola finished with five receptions for 81 yards and two scores. One score coming on a 51-yard pass from Julian Edelman when trailing 28-21 in the third quarter.
Several weeks later against the Seahawks “Legion of Boom” defense, Amendola posted five more catches for 48 yards and a score. The touchdown coming with just under eight minutes to play in the fourth quarter, cutting the Seahawks lead to just 24-21.
Along with just receiving, Amendola played a huge role in the return game for New England. During the 2014 run, Amendola returned nine kickoffs for 213 yards (23.7 yards per return).
The following year, Amendola carried his postseason success into the regular season. As Julian Edelman missed time with a broken foot, Amendola posted a Patriot career-best 65 catches for 648 yards. However, in New England’s two postseason games, he only posted seven catches for 57 yards.
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2016 followed almost the exact same path as 2014 for Amendola. He struggled in the regular season, starting just four games and catching 23 passes. However, Amendola again bounced back in a big way once the calendar flipped to the postseason.
Amendola’s 2016 postseason stat line finished as is: 10 catches, 90 yards and one score. The majority of his work coming in Super Bowl LI (8 catches, 71 yards, one touchdown), as Amendola was a vital part of the 25 point Patriots comeback.
Amendola’s first big play in the Super Bowl came with about six minutes left in the third quarter. With New England down 28-3 and facing a fourth down around midfield, Brady hit Amendola for what he would turn into a 17-yard gain.
The drive ended with a score by running back James White, kick-starting the comeback run.
Later, with the Patriots trailing 28-12 with six minutes to go in the fourth, Brady connected with Amendola for a six-yard score. The score and successful two-point conversion cut the Falcons lead to 28-20.
Several minutes later, following a Patriots touchdown to cut the score to 28-26, the Patriots faced the biggest two-point conversion in their franchise’s history. Who’d they give the ball to? Amendola, on a designed screen. And he delivered the goods, tying the game at 28-28.
Amendola saved his best game of the season for the Super Bowl when the team needed it the most.
Since arriving in New England, Amendola has built up a strong postseason resume, full of clutch performances and plays. In his eight playoff games, he’s totaled 29 receptions for 349 yards and four touchdowns.
He has received ultimate compliments from coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Belichick called him “one of our best and most dependable players.” McDaniels summed up the receiver perfectly.
"“The guy, he’s a great football player and he does a lot of things well – he’s tough, he always makes an impact when he’s in there, he blocks hard, he gets open in the passing game, he catches the ball, he’s hard to tackle, he returns punts, makes big plays in the kicking game, he’s a great teammate,” McDaniels said. “There’s nothing I don’t love about Danny Amendola. Every time he’s out there, you feel good about what may happen if the ball is headed towards him, and he always comes up big in the biggest moments or biggest games."
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Amendola has the trust and chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady and has a great chance to add to his already impressive postseason resume within the next few weeks.