“He’s just Danny ‘Playoff’ Amendola.”
And rightfully so.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola’s best game of the season (so far) came in the New England’s divisional-round matchup against Tennessee Saturday night.
Exceeding many of his regular-season averages, Amendola recorded 11 catches for 112 yards on 13 targets. Not only did the 32-year-old notch the first 100-yard playoff game of his career, but he also tied a franchise record with Deion Branch and Wes Welker for second-most receptions in a playoff game.
Among his array of impressive plays was hurling in a fadeaway throw from a scrambling Tom Brady during the fourth quarter.
“I knew he was coming to me the whole time,” Amendola said with a smile after the game. “We locked eyes early and then I could tell he was thinking about it, so I kept running. I knew I had a couple yards. And he looked back again and he let it go. It ended up working out.”
OK, Tom. #? pic.twitter.com/zUU4H6JnqK
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 14, 2018
The Patriots had nothing but praise for their teammate following the team’s 35-14 win over the Titans.
“I thought he played incredible,” Brady said. “He made a lot of great catches. Those third downs were huge today. We talked about in the bye week of really trying to improve that.”
The pair connected for five third-down conversions of varying distances: third-and-eight, third-and-two, third-and-seven, third-and-three, and third-and-10 — proving both Amendola’s reliability and versatility.
“He’s a great player,” Rob Gronkowski added. “He works his tail off and he’s just Danny ‘Playoff’ Amendola. For real. Every time the playoffs come, big games, he’s always there. He’s always stepping up his game. He’s a great player, a great teammate, and a great dude.”
— Nicole Yang (@nicolecyang) January 14, 2018
This year’s divisional-round game marked Amendola’s fourth playoff game with more than 70 receiving yards. The veteran picked up right where he left off during last year’s postseason, when he caught eight catches for 78 yards (and a touchdown) on 13 targets during Super Bowl LI.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick commended Amendola for his dependability and ball handling, especially in wintry weather conditions. The wide receiver returned three punts for 27 yards in Saturday night’s chilly temperatures — a feat which Belichick said is a lot harder than it looks.
“Handling the ball on these punts in conditions like tonight, it’s not easy,” the coach explained. “As we saw, there were several times when he had guys breathing right down on top of him, standing right there when he was catching the ball, so it just put a little more pressure on it. But Danny has great concentration, he’s tough, and really a smart football player.”
“He makes good decisions, good judgment, knows how to get open, makes some big catches in tough situations,” he continued. “He’s kind of guy you take for granted, but he delivered a lot tonight, as he always does.”
Special teamer Matthew Slater echoed Belichick’s comments, joking that he likes to call Amendola “All-Weather Dola” because of his consistency.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s cold, hot, snow. He’s going to be out there, he’s going to get open, he’s going to make plays,” Slater said, adding that he wants royalties if Amendola ends up with a tire endorsement.
“With the season on the line, every week you come out in the postseason, you want to be out there going to your most dependable players,” Slater continued. “Can you think of a guy who’s been more dependable since he got here? We don’t call him ‘Steady Eddie’ for no reason. He’s always doing what he needs to do to get himself open, catch the football, and move the chains.”