FOXBORO -- Tom Brady gets a ton of the credit for Sunday’s fourth-quarter, come-from-behind victory over the Texans. That makes sense. He’s the greatest of all-time. He’s been there and done that before. 51 times. Or is it 21? Doesn’t really matter. You get the point. Brady is the lynchpin.
But he can’t do it alone.
“I feel like everyone in that huddle made plays that drive,” said Rob Gronkowski. “Everyone came together to make the plays to help us win. It just shows how big of a team game this is, NFL football.”
Danny Amendola is a critical piece of this team. How many times have we seen the little guy play big? After missing the game in New Orleans with both the lingering effects of a concussion and a knee injury, the belief was that the Patriots would do a better job of managing the 31-year old. But as was the case in the opener, there’s just too much ability -- too much faith in that ability -- to keep Amendola on the sideline for too long.
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He played 32 snaps and had a couple of electric punt returns. But what he’ll most be remembered for this weekend was his terrific catch on third-and-18 during that game-winning drive. Amendola wasn’t open when that ball left Brady’s hands. But Brady knew there was a clearing on the right side. More importantly, he knew Amendola would either get it or make sure no one on the Texans did. Amendola got it, like he almost always does.
“I got a job to do when i’m out there,” said Amendola Sunday. “It’s good to be back. Missed it last week. It was fun running around, trying to make some plays.”
Amendola has made so many, too many to list. Off the top of my head, there’s the touchdown catch and the two-point conversion in Super Bowl 51, the touchdown catch in Super Bowl 49 that set the stage for Julian Edelman’s game-winner. Want more? How about the pair of TDs in the Divisional Round win over Baltimore back in 2015? Those are some of the biggest games in franchise history. Amendola has played a major role.
“There’s no question that I think Danny Amendola has demonstrated his ability to make plays under pressure, perform in critical situations and help us win games.” said Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels Tuesday. “I have a lot of confidence in him.”
So does the quarterback, as demonstrated by all those plays and by the fact that he has campaigned for the pint-sized slot wideout to stay in New England when he could have easily walked away. Amendola is clutch. Just like Brady. Does McDaniels believe in such a thing?
“I believe in guys performing under pressure, and some may tend to do that maybe more,” he said. “But, I also believe that a lot of the plays that people make in critical situations or at the end of games are generally the result of a lot of people doing good things. Certainly, guys have to make – everybody sees the person that catches the ball, but I would also there’s a lot of things that are happening that maybe don’t get the same amount of recognition in those types of situations that are just as clutch, if not more in some cases, that allow the play to happen.”
It takes a team, but to have one as good as this, you need someone like Amendola. Someone who is constantly grinding, constantly putting it on the line, and - inevitably - delivering the goods, just like he did Sunday, just like he has so many times before.