For a good chunk of the 2016 season, Danny Amendola faded off into the shadows. He missed the final four games of the regular season with a high-ankle sprain and only caught two passes for 12 yards in New England’s two previous playoff games.
Even before he was bit by the injury bug, Amendola’s role in New England’s offense was significantly declining, as he only caught 23 passes for 243 yards in the 2016 regular season. The previous year, he caught 65 passes for 648 yards.
But that didn’t stop Amendola, whose handprints were all over New England’s 31 unanswered points, from being a key contributor to the Patriots’ wild 34-28 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night. He caught a season-high eight passes for 78 yards and a touchdown against Atlanta, one of those catches being a 17-yard pickup on fourth down with 6:04 left to go in the third quarter in order to keep New England’s comeback hopes alive.
However, the most crucial play he made didn’t even get recorded on his stat sheet. With 57 seconds remaining in regulation, Amendola caught the game-tying two-point conversion to knot the game up 28-28 which wound up forcing overtime.
“We have a resilient bunch of guys,” Amendola told reporters. “We were able to get it to overtime, that [catch] gave us a chance.”
Amendola’s most explosive catch of the night picked up 20 yards, which put New England on Atlanta’s 21-yard line shortly before the two-minute warning, helping put the Patriots in great position to score. He also caught a six-yard touchdown pass with 5:56 remaining in the fourth quarter to make it a one-possession game, as the Patriots trailed 28-20 following a successful two-point conversion run by James White.
“We were just trying to beat them by one point,” Amendola said. “We knew we had to come out in the second half and play no matter what. They were coming at us with a lot of things. … We wanted to be mentally tough, and we got it done.”
Since Amendola signed with the Patriots in March of 2013, he has won Super Bowl XLIX and Super Bowl LI, scoring critical points in both of those games. But Amendola’s second Super Bowl triumph was even sweeter for him because it took place in Texas, the state he was born and raised in.
“It’s the best,” Amendola told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s why we play. It’s great to have the family out. My mom came out. It was awesome to have the family in the stands.”