With an incredible fourth-quarter catch that will go down in NFL history, Jewish wide receiver for the New England Patriots Julian Edelman saved the 51st Super Bowl for his team on Sunday night, earning vital points which set up the game for overtime and allowed the Patriots to make an historic comeback.
The catch, which teammate safety Duron Harmon called “miraculous”, was one of the best in Super Bowl history, with players, viewers and commentators immediately declaring it legendary. “It was one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen,” star quarterback Tom Brady said after the game. “I don’t know how the hell he caught it.”
Another teammate, tackle Nate Solder, was convinced that the catch had saved the game for the Pats. “If we didn’t have it, we wouldn’t be where we are,” he said after the win. “It was unbelievable.”
Edelman made the difficult catch with minutes left in the quarter, dodging three Atlanta Falcons defenders to grab the ball inches from the ground.
“Julian is such a great player, that’s where hard work and focus meets luck,” said Pats defensive end Chris Long.
Edelman, who identifies as Jewish through his father, has been recognized by the American Jewish Historical Society as one of the top five best Jewish football players in the sport’s history. He visited Israel in 2015, touring the country’s top historical, religious and cultural sites and even donning a kippa at the Western Wall.
He said of the visit, “Exploring my heritage is something I started in the past few years and seeing Israel for the first time, really getting a sense of its history and culture, I now truly understand why it’s so special.”
Whether or not Edelman prayed for prowess on the field, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a Jewish billionaire who has donated millions to Jewish and Israeli charities, had likely sent a request upstairs. Kraft, who was raised in an Orthodox family, studies Jewish texts weekly and compared preparing for the Super Bowl to learning Torah.
“You know, it’s like studying Talmud or Torah — it’s not just simplistic, it’s deep. We prepare as a team very well, we practice hard,” he told the Forward last week.
He also likened his teamwork philosophy to the Jewish state’s strength and ability to endure in a hostile region.
“That whole concept of team and teamwork and team first — that’s how Israel, in my opinion, has survived in the Middle East,” he said.