Patriots

Julian Edelman becomes first Patriots player to accomplish this feat in Tom Brady era

Julian Edelman becomes first Patriots player to accomplish this feat in Tom Brady era

Julian Edelman led the New England Patriots in touchdown passes during Sunday's 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

Yes, you read that right.

A wide receiver led the team in touchdown passes during a game in which starting quarterback Tom Brady played every offensive snap. This result sounds quite surprising, and that's because it actually had never been seen in the 19-plus seasons Brady has played for the Patriots.

Check out this note from ESPN Stats & Info:

Here's a look at Edelman's 15-yard touchdown pass to fellow wideout Phillip Dorsett:

Edelman was a quarterback in college for Kent State, and he's actually enjoyed plenty of success throwing the ball in the NFL (in a small sample size, of course).

Brady had a pretty rough Week 11. His 14 first-half incompletions were the most of his career, and he finished with 26 completions on 47 attempts for 216 yards with zero touchdowns and no interceptions. In fairness to Brady, four of his pass-catchers Sunday either had very little experience in the offense (wideouts Mohamed Sanu, N'Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers) or haven't played in it for a long time (tight end Ben Watson).

The Patriots have never been afraid to go into their bag of trick plays when not much is working offensively, and it sure help to have a wide receiver like Edelman who can throw accurate passes when called on.

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NFL conference championships see ratings drop without Patriots

NFL conference championships see ratings drop without Patriots

Love 'em or hate 'em, the New England Patriots garner the attention of the masses.

That was evident during last year's AFC Championship game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, when an average crowd of 53.9 million people tuned in to watch the Patriots win in an overtime thriller and advance to Super Bowl 53.

To put that into perspective, this year's late-window matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers drew only 42.7 million viewers, per Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily.

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Of course, much of that discrepancy has to do with Pats-Chiefs being far more competitive than Packers-Niners. Plenty of viewers likely tuned out of the latter matchup when San Francisco led Green Bay 27-0 at halftime.

Even so, it just goes to show how much more attention is paid to the NFL playoffs when Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the rest of New England is involved. This year's AFC Championship featuring the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs marked the first without the Patriots since 2011, and it was the smallest audience (41.1 million) for an AFC title game in 11 years.

In comparison, the early game in 2019 (Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints) averaged roughly 44 million.

The Chiefs and 49ers will meet in Miami for Super Bowl 54. It'll be interesting to see how those ratings compare to last year's Patriots-Rams matchup.

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George Kittle celebrated Super Bowl berth with hilarious Jimmy Garoppolo shirt

George Kittle celebrated Super Bowl berth with hilarious Jimmy Garoppolo shirt

George Kittle had a little fun with his quarterback after the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers in Sunday night's NFC Championship Game to clinch a berth in Super Bowl LIV.

The All-Pro tight end showed up to his postgame press conference with a custom t-shirt that included a shirtless photo and autograph of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Check it out in the tweet below:

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Garoppolo was asked by reporters about Kittle's shirt, and he couldn't hold back his laughter.

“I got him earlier in the week with a shirt, showed it to the media and everything, so he had to get me back a little bit," a smiling Garoppolo said, per 95.7 The Game. "I thought it was a nice shirt he had on. Maybe we’ll get them in the team store soon.”

Garoppolo is no stranger to the Super Bowl. He made two Super Bowl appearances with the New England Patriots as Tom Brady's backup, and in two weeks he'll make his first start on that stage.

The 49ers quarterback hasn't had to play at an elite level for his team to reach the Super Bowl, but that should change in Miami on Feb. 2. The AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs have an offense that looks unstoppable right now, so Garoppolo likely will need to play one of his best games as a pro to give San Francisco a strong chance to win its sixth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.

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