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New England Patriots' Julian Edelman still undefeated this season

By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange   |   Jan. 17, 2016 at 12:29 AM
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots still haven't lost a game this season with Julian Edelman on the field.

The 5-foot-10 wide receiver, who broke his left foot Nov. 15 against the New York Giants, returned Saturday and caught 10 passes in a 27-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs that sent the Patriots to their fifth straight AFC title game.

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Counting the game in which he went down, the Patriots were 9-0 with Edelman in the lineup -- then went 3-4 without him.

Yes, there were other injuries. But Edelman is always there when Tom Brady needs him.

"I know the offense and Tom knows me," Edelman said after running up 100 yards on his catches.

"I think he's worked his tail off," Brady said. "He's always been one of the hardest workers -- one of the hardest workers I've ever played with, one of the most determined young men that's on this team. And he's got as much heart as anybody. It's a serious injury to come back from, and to play the way that he did today was great."

Edelman was seen heading for X-rays after the win, but there was no indication he would be in trouble for the title game against either the Denver Broncos or Pittsburgh Steelers.

It may well have just been to check on how the foot stood up to the game.

"He's a great player," tight end Rob Gronkowski said. "I'm so proud of him. I couldn't wait for him to get back. He worked so hard. It's just not easy to come back and have a performance like that."

NOTES:

--QB Tom Brady had another record-type day in leading the Patriots to Saturday's win. His final completion gave him his ninth 300-yard postseason game, tying him with Peyton Manning for the NFL record. He had his sixth postseason rushing touchdown -- second on New England's all-time list and tied for second in NFL history. He also extended his NFL record with his 17th multi-touchdown game and tied former teammate Adam Vinatieri for the all-time NFL record for playoff games, with 30. He will break that next week.

--Brady, who joined Kenny Stabler as the only quarterback to take five straight teams to a conference title game, insisted it doesn't really matter which team the Patriots play in the AFC title game.

"You're not rooting too hard. Whatever happens happens," Brady said. "Whether we play here or whether we play there, we're going to have to play really well."

--The Kansas City Chiefs won 11 straight games after starting the season 1-5, including the franchise's first postseason win in 21 years. Now, the road has ended and the Chiefs feel they can learn from it. "Obviously we wanted to win the game," safety Eric Berry said, "but, at the same time, this is a learning experience, so we'll just take it for what it's worth and see what we did wrong and see what we can improve."

--TE Rob Gronkowski missed practice time with knee and back problems and was one of many "questionable" Patriots coming into the game. He caught seven passes -- including his seventh and eight postseason TDs, a Patriots record and a record for NFL tight ends.

--Patriots DE Chandler Jones, involved in an incident in which he reportedly had a reaction to synthetic marijuana last week, started Saturday. He forced a fumble and had a sack.

--Brady doesn't run often, but he ran 10 yards and dove for the pylon, coming up just short before scoring on a sneak on the next play. "Anytime the Clydesdale gets running the crowd goes crazy," wide receiver Julian Edelman said. "I was lifted."

--While the Patriots' injury situation got much of the attention, Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hall all played hurt -- and were not that effective. "I'm trying to do whatever I can to help this team win," said Maclin, who didn't practice all week and caught just two passes for 23 yards. "But it was tough, painful too. I'm always trying to do what I can to help this team. I tried to play and I did and then it came a point where the pain kind of took over and it was time for me to come out of the game." Said quarterback Alex Smith: "Hats (off) to him. I appreciate him going out there and trying to go."

--Leave it to a kicker from another country to put a tough loss in proper perspective. "It is just the game of football and it can be heartbreaking at that," said Brazilian-born Cairo Santos. "It can just come down to just a few plays throughout the game and (you) just wish you had a little bit more time to make a comeback. I am still proud of everything we achieved and this is a phenomenal group. We will be ready to come back next year."

--Belichick said he had "a heavy heart" Saturday after the passing of Ted Marchibroda, who gave him his first NFL coaching job in 1975. "I wouldn't be standing here if it weren't for Ted Marchibroda," Belichick said.

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