ATLANTA -- Last year, during Super Bowl LII in Minnesota, Julian Edelman had a great seat for the game. He was in the stands.
Edelman had a much better view for Super Bowl LIII.
The 32-year-old receiver was the star for the Patriots in their 13-3 victory against the Rams on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, earning MVP honors with 10 catches for 141 yards on 12 targets. He became the second Super Bowl MVP ever won by a Patriots receiver, joining Deion Branch from Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005.
"I'm getting to live out a dream," Edelman said. "It's pretty surreal right now."
Edelman abused the Rams on Sunday, much like he did most opponents all season. After coming back from last year's torn ACL and a four-game suspension for performance enhancing-drugs, Edelman still had 74 catches for 850 yards and six touchdowns on 108 targets in the regular season.
He picked up his play in the postseason with 16 catches for 247 yards prior to the Super Bowl, and then he tore apart the Rams. Including the playoffs, he had either a touchdown or at least 90 receiving yards in 12 of 15 games.
And his performance in Super Bowl LIII was magical. In the first half, Edelman had 93 receiving yards, while the Rams had 63 total yards as a team.
"He played the best game he had all year," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. "I'm so proud of him."
Added New England coach Bill Belichick: "Julian always gives us those kind of plays. Tough plays, tough catches. He did a tremendous job."
During the playoffs, Edelman also set a couple of milestones, becoming second all-time in postseason receptions (115) and receiving yards (1,412), trailing only Jerry Rice in both categories. Rice has 151 playoff catches and 2,245 postseason receiving yards.
Edelman isn't going to catch Rice. But being No. 2 is impressive, given his career, which started as a college quarterback at Kent State. He was selected by the Patriots with a seventh-round pick in the NFL Draft in 2009 -- only 24 players were drafted after him.
It wasn't until 2013 when Edelman became a significant contributor on offense. During his first four seasons, Edelman was a reserve receiver (he had 69 catches for 714 yards and four touchdowns over that span), but he also spent time on defense and special teams.
Since then, however, Edelman has established himself as one of the best slot receivers in the NFL. And a nightmare for opposing defensive backs.
Just ask the Rams.
Edelman also has three memorable situations in the Super Bowl. He had what ended up as the game-winning catch against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX and one of the most amazing catches in NFL history against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
And now, Edelman had this outstanding performance in Super Bowl LIII. It sure beats watching the game from the stands.
"It was definitely very tough," Edelman said of watching last year's Super Bowl loss. "But we got it this year. We're good."