In a tight-fisted defensive affair, Edelman did some roll-up-the-sleeves work on offense, with 10 catches for 141 yards in the Patriots' 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Points were hard to come by for both teams in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl of all time, and as the Patriots put together one touchdown drive in the game, Edelman was the consistent go-to guy on offense.
"[It's] pretty surreal. Tough times don't last. Tough people do,'' Edelman said. "I preach that. ... I have to try to live to that.''
Edelman is the seventh wide receiver to earn Super Bowl MVP honors and the first since Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII. Desmond Howard also won the game's MVP honors as a returner.
Edelman closed at 25-1 to win MVP at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Edelman joins a list of receivers to win MVP that includes Hall of Famers Lynn Swann, Fred Biletnikoff and Jerry Rice. He is the second Patriots wide receiver to earn Super Bowl MVP honors, following Deion Branch in Super Bowl XXXIX, New England's third of six Super Bowl wins with Tom Brady at quarterback.
It was Edelman's sixth career postseason game with at least 100 yards receiving and his second 100-yard game this postseason. He finished with nine receptions for 151 yards in the Patriots' divisional-round win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Edelman's 115 career postseason receptions are now second only to Rice's total.
"I think we just had to worry about one play at a time and keep knocking at the door,'' Edelman said. "It wasn't pretty, but we'll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day.''
"He played the best game of the year,'' Brady said. "He's a fighter. I'm just so proud of him. He's been an incredible player for this team.''
The Rams were able -- with the power of their defensive front and the occasional matchup of cornerback Aqib Talib on Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski when Gronkowski lined up out wide -- to unsettle Brady some in the early going.
Brady's first pass attempt of the game, after the Patriots opened with four consecutive running plays, was intercepted by Rams linebacker Cory Littleton after the ball was tipped by Nickell Robey-Coleman.
Edelman had just one catch on the next possession, when Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 46-yard field goal attempt. From that point on, the Patriots successfully moved Edelman around the formation -- Talib also matched up on Edelman several times when Edelman lined up in the slot -- and often put Edelman and Gronkowski on the same side.
"We were just grinding it out,'' Brady said. "We were able to put some things together. ... I just felt like we had to keep grinding it out all night.''
The result was that Brady was able to get the Patriots' offense moving when he consistently got the ball to Edelman. Edelman finished the first half with seven catches for 93 yards, a total that included four of Brady's six completions of at least 10 yards in the opening half.
Edelman had a 13-yard catch on the Patriots' only touchdown drive of the night: a five-play, 69-yard effort that concluded with a 2-yard touchdown run by Sony Michel with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Patriots' defense also did its part, holding the high-powered Rams to 260 yards as New England sacked Rams quarterback Jared Goff four times to go with an interception.
"[I] was just trying to get open.... I was asked to make a couple plays, and we were able to do that,'' Edelman said. "The defense was unreal. ... It's pretty crazy. They should be MVP on D.''
It was a long way from when Edelman missed the 2017 season, including the Patriots' loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII a year ago, after suffering a torn ACL in a preseason game. He then missed the first four games of the 2018 regular season due to a suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Edelman did not publicly reveal what substance he tested positive for during the regular season, but he said he had to "be accountable'' for the suspension.
Each of the Patriots' past two Super Bowl MVPs were suspended for the first four games of that season. Brady received a four-game ban in 2016 for his role in the Deflategate scandal before earning Super Bowl LI MVP honors.
Edelman narrowly missed a $500,000 bonus for touchdowns catches to close the 2018 regular season, but he acknowledged last month that wasn't a concern, saying, "I don't play the game for that. I play the game to try to go out and win championships.''
He now holds a place among the league's postseason heroes with his third Super Bowl win in 18 career playoff games.
"It was unreal,'' Edelman said. "Sometimes the cookie crumbles that way.''