Bill Belichick let the Giants score, leading 17-15, with 57 seconds remaining, opting to give Tom Brady a last chance with the ball, rather than let the Giants run out the clock and kick a short field goal with no time remaining. Ahmad Bradshaw realized what the Patriots defense was doing, and tried to go down at the goal line, but couldn’t quite react in time and fell in the end zone.
That scoring drive was set up by an amazing Mario Manningham catch along the sideline, somehow keeping both feet in as he got hit. New York then got the ball down inside the Patriots’ 10 after a completion to Hakeem Nicks, and Belichick made his decision.
It’s a decision that I support, even though the Patriots were leading. It’s similar to the call that Mike Holmgren made against Denver in a tie game, choosing to give Favre one more chance. Just like that game, it did not work out for the team that got the ball back.
Brady did make a fourth down completion to Branch to keep the Patriots’ chances alive, but they only managed to reach midfield. Then, Brady heaved a pass to the end zone that was deflected and came up just short of a diving and hobbled Rob Gronkowski.
The Giants had dominated the early action, getting a safety on the Patriots’ first play of the game, and then moving down the field to score a touchdown to make it 9-0. That touchdown was facilitated by a costly 12 men on the field penalty on the Patriots, on a third down play where Victor Cruz fumbled.
However, the Giants did not capitalize on their early advantage. They limited the Patriots to only 64 yards until the final drive that began with 4 minutes remaining. Then, New England went 96 yards for a key touchdown from Brady to Danny Woodhead in the final seconds that gave the Patriots a 10-9 lead. Brady was 10 for 10 for 98 yards (The Patriots started with a penalty that actually lengthened the drive).
New England stretched the lead to 17-9 on the first drive of the second half, but outside that stretch around the Madonna performance, Tom Brady could not generate any more points. New York got two field goals, and then an opportunity for the game winning drive led by Eli Manning, when Brady missed an open Welker with about 4 minutes left.
It was not a classic performance throughout, with stretches of the game languishing in fits and starts, but it turned into another classic by the final gun.
New York 21, New England 17, and the New York Giants become the first Super Bowl winner with 9 regular season wins.
[photo via Getty]