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Julian Edelman, a walking inspirational sports movie trope, made the best catch ever

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What Edelman did against the Falcons was an affront to everything we’ve ever thought as humanly possible.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Julian Edelman is a perfect human being. It has to be said and accepted as fact. It is a truth that is inarguable and good. Like the fact that rainy Sundays are the best days or that the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl with the NFL MVP and the league’s best offense.

That catch that he made to snag the ball through a crowd of three defenders, after it was batted away, and as it fell so close to the ground that the replay had to zoom in so far that you could see the growth of the grass itself — to show that the ball was just a few inches off the ground right before he secured it. What Edelman did against the Falcons was an affront to everything we’ve ever thought as humanly possible.

But before we can talk about that catch, we have to talk about what Julio Jones did. Not this catch, but the other one. THAT one:

As a Patriots fan, I’ve never felt so helpless, blown away, and fearful of defeat as I did when I saw that happen. It was ridiculous. Logically, I understood what happened or that what he did was within reason. Matt Ryan threw a great ball that seemed to phase through the defender’s hand. Jones, focused and determined, grabbed it with his body falling towards the sideline. Then he moved to secure the ball as his left leg came down, tucked it under his arm to satisfy every ambiguous clause in the NFL’s rulebook, and managed to poke his right leg down on the green before landing out of bounds. Sure, the logic and the visual evidence match, but still.

You can understand that something that wondrous can happen, but to actually witness it, at such a critical juncture of the game, felt like divine intervention. At least for the Falcons. It felt like divine punishment for the Patriots. Like a reboot of Angels in the Endzone that ends with me laying on the floor in disbelief while everyone around me Dirty Birds in celebration.

That catch should have been the play that ended the game. It put the Falcons into field goal position while they were up 28-20 with a few minutes left. One score, touchdown or field goal, and the game was out of reach. A score and a two-point conversion was a tough task for New England, two scores would have been asking for too much.

The catch was also reminiscent of every catch that led to a Super Bowl loss for New England in the Tom Brady era, the David Tyree helmet grab and the Mario Manningham sideline miracle. These type of catches, the absurd, were the universal signal that New England was going home empty-handed.

Until it wasn’t, because Edelman refused to let it happen. Because that beautiful, bearded, 5’10, 200 pounds of stereotypical grit, toughness, and deceptive speed has the heart of 10 hungry lions. In their desperation, when they are starving, the animals are liable to go after prey that they have no business trying to eat — such as giraffes and hippos. They become brazen, disregarding their own safety and natural law to satisfy their hunger. In his own alarmed mindset, Edelman outfought three bigger and faster defenders, redefined the concepts of concentration and awareness, to make one of the most spectacular catches in Super Bowl history.

He’s a walking inspirational sports movie trope. Edelman is what you get if you took every grand movie speech about working hard, waking up at 6 a.m. everyday to lift weights and run suicides, overcoming your limits, not letting your physical constraints spell an end to your dreams, trying and failing only to try again, blood, sweat and tears, all of those cliché speeches about exceptionalism, and distilled it into a human being.

He’s the epitome of passionate and “wanting it more.” That’s the last possible way to explain what he did when he caught that ball. The commentary is usually the last refuge of the ignorant person who can’t properly explain what happened in a play, nor really care to, but there’s no way to really watch the Edelman catch without resorting to it. Because it’s who he is. That’s just what it was.

His first catch and run of the game saw him spinning in the air and several others after saw him taking hard hits because he always wants to get extra yards. He wants to show the defenders that he’s tougher than them. He caught that ball because he refused to give up as he always does.

The ball was batted up by a defender in front of him, and then two more converged on it. He could have tried to prevent an interception. He also had every right to give up on the play and let whatever would have happened happen, since he was seemingly out of position to do much else. But he didn’t.

He went for the ball, grabbed it as the defenders collided into him, which knocked the ball back out, and just as it seemed that it was going to hit the floor, with bodies piled on him, Edelman managed a second effort to capture it.

It’s the opposite of Jones’ catch, which was a superb display of grace and talent. This one was a pure fight, a slobberknocker, if you will. It’s the type of catch that brings out all of the archaic masculinity in whoever sees it. It makes you want to challenge everyone around you to a round of push-ups before hooting and hollering and flexing everywhere in celebration. It’s what you expect from someone who looks like he eats bricks for breakfast and growls at people he doesn’t know.

New England came from being down 25 points in a Super Bowl to win in overtime in what has to go down as one of the greatest games ever. It wouldn’t have been possible if Edelman wasn’t OK with sacrificing his body.

The win belongs to him as much as it does to Tom Brady, because without that catch, the game would have turned out starkly different. If it wasn’t for Julian Edelman fulfilling every adage that proposes that it’s the size of the fight inside the person that counts, New England wouldn’t be where it is now.