David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Looking back at Danny Amendola's playoff excellence

Alex Reimer
March 13, 2018 - 4:07 pm

Leave it to Rob Gronkowski to perfectly encapsulate Danny Amendola’s Patriots tenure. “How does Danny get so good in the playoffs?” Gronk asked Tom Brady in a phone call just hours after the AFC Championship, when Amendola caught seven passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns.

Amendola’s five-year run with the Patriots ended Tuesday, when he agreed to a deal with the Dolphins. The veteran wideout came to New England with an injury-prone reputation and unenviable mandate to replace Wes Welker.  Amendola leaves New England as a playoff hero, with his performance in last season’s Super Bowl run cementing his place in Patriots lore.

The stats tell the story of Amendola’s postseason excellence. As WEEI’s Ryan Hannable notes, his numbers in 69 regular season games are respectable: 230 catches (3.3/game), 2,383 yards (34.5/game), 12 touchdowns. But his playoff numbers are exceptional. In 13 contests, Amendola amassed 57 catches (4.4/game), 709 yards (54.5/game), and six touchdowns.

Whenever the Patriots needed Amendola to step up, he usually filled the void. That happened throughout most of last season, when he caught 61 passes in Julian Edelman’s absence. 

And now, after years of taking pay cuts, Amendola is going to get paid. His deal with the Dolphins is two years for $12 million with $8.25 million guaranteed, per Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager. It’s difficult to fault Amendola, who returns to Miami with lots of cash and a sterling playoff record. Five of his greatest Patriots postseason moments are below.

1) Stepping in for Gronk in 2018 AFC championship

Brady has led lots of playoff comebacks in his career. But the Patriots come-from-behind win in last season’s AFC championship may have been the most impressive. Down 10 points in the fourth quarter, Brady led the Patriots all the way back without Gronkowski, who exited the game with a concussion. Of course, Brady also played the entire season sans Edelman. 

Enter Amendola. He turned into Brady’s No. 1 option and reeled in two fourth-quarter touchdowns. The game-winning grab was a thing of beauty.

2) Edelman-Amendola 

Amendola’s Patriots coming out party happened in the 2014 Divisional Round against Baltimore, following a disastrous regular season that he largely watched from the sidelines. He caught five passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns in that game, including an immaculate reception from Edelman on a trick play that tied the game at 28. The Patriots trailed the Ravens by 14 points in the third period. 

The Patriots won 35-31.

3) Sparks Super Bowl LI comeback

Amendola played a leading role in the Patriots’ historic 28-point resurgence against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. He reeled in the first of three New England touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime, while also securing the game-tying two-point conversion. On the two-point conversion, he plowed through two Falcons defenders to reach the end zone.

4) Sparks Super Bowl XLIX comeback

This is not a typo. Amendola also launched the Patriots’ comeback win against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Brady connected with him in the back of the end zone to cut the deficit to three points with just under eight minutes remaining. Edelman caught the eventual game-winner with 2:02 left.

5) Sets tone for Super Bowl LII shootout 

Statistically, Amendola’s best playoff effort came in the Patriots’ most recent Super Bowl. He led all receivers with eight catches and 152 yards –– and almost hit Brady with a pass out of the back field that could have gone the distance. 

Late in the first quarter, Amendola came down with a 50-yard reception that helped set the tone for the 74-point shootout. 

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