FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Julian Edelman has had enough of all the questions about his toughness. He’s tired of his teammates talking about it, too.

“I’m honestly sick of it,” said Edelman with a smile in the New England Patriots’ locker room Saturday, moments after helping his team claim a 24-17 win over the Buffalo Bills and an 11th straight AFC East title. “Because the guys come up to me and are like, ‘dude, reporters are asking about your toughness.’ So, please stop asking.”

That’s not likely to happen any time soon.

Edelman (five receptions, 72 receiving yards) and his otherworldly toughness were on full display for everyone to see Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

Once again, the 33-year-old receiver showed off the type of grit that’s made him a fan favorite, and quarterback Tom Brady’s No. 1 target.

Once again, the 11-year veteran overcame several injuries to lift the Patriots over the Bills and their tough defense.


Meanwhile, Edelman’s legend continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

“To see him be able to get back up and perform for his teammates and put his body on the line, like a lot of guys, there’s nothing but respect for him,” Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore said. “He goes across the middle, takes hits, get up, fired up. It’s fun to see. I’m glad he’s my teammate. I hated playing against him. I’m happy I’m on his team now.”

Edelman’s body has taken a beating this year. Truthfully, that’s the case every single season for the 5-foot-11 kamikaze-like receiver. This season, however, has been different. In the past, Edelman has played through big hits and even a broken foot. In 2019, the pain has been visible.

He was limited all week with a shoulder injury that’s made him wince after landing on the ground. He’s also dealing with a knee injury that had him limping three weeks ago against Kansas City. It’s that knee injury that made Edelman look like a shell of his dynamic self last week in Cincinnati, where he caught just two passes for a season-low 2 yards.

Was it safe for Edelman to even play Saturday? It was a fair question. And with 10:30 left in the third quarter, the answer looked like a resounding “no.”

On that play, Edelman ran a slant play and collided with a Bills defender and went down – hard – to the turf. He claims he tried to sell the play, which was flagged for offensive pass interference, so he stayed on the ground for a brief moment.


At the time, it looked like he suffered a head injury. Edelman was taken off the field and went into the team’s blue medical tent. Then, he left for the locker room and the team announced he was being evaluated for a head injury.

“I was trying to sell it … Then three flags were literally in my face,” Edelman said. “That sell didn’t work and it got me taken out for a quarter.”

Edelman had four catches for 42 yards when he left the game. The Patriots, who were up 13-10, fell behind with the receiver in the locker room. Before long, the Patriots were down and the fourth quarter had arrived. Nearly 16 minutes after leaving the game, Edelman returned – with 9:01 left to play – with his team was down, 17-16.

His teammates knew what was about to happen when he stepped into the huddle.

“He’s just a spark plug,” Patriots rookie receiver N’Keal Harry said. “He’s open like 95 percent of the time. It’s definitely a plus having him on the field and it hurts when he’s not on the field.”

Added tight end Matt LaCosse: “Anytime Julian’s on the field, it’s a different ballgame. He’s a great wide receiver… Anytime he’s in the huddle and on the field, he’s a dangerous guy and we love having him out there.”


Edelman’s first play back was a big one – a 30-yard reception to move the Patriots to the Bills’ 29-yard line. Rex Burkhead capped off the drive six plays later with a 1-yard touchdown run. Edelman stepped up, again, and caught Brady’s pass for the 2-point conversion to put the Patriots back on top.

“I think we all prefer to have him out there for 60 minutes,” Brady said. “How much did he miss? About 15 minutes? He was running a slant and it was an unfortunate play, but I’m glad he came back and made a big play. He always does.”

Added Edelman: “I was gone for a little bit. I didn’t want to mess with the flow of things. I just wanted to do what I’m asked to do. That’s what I tried to do.”

After settling for a field goal, while sitting at the 5-yard line, on the drive before – with Edelman out – the Patriots needed a spark. They got it, again, with a receiver who’s impossible to describe without using that word he’s tired of hearing.

“Julian’s a tough guy,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said.

Indeed, he is.

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