Belichick: Giving Giants TD gave Pats best chance

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Still a chance, however slim.

With nine seconds left, Brady threw an incompletion to Branch.

With five seconds left, there was just one option _ a desperation pass into a crowd in the end zone. It got there but, with tight ends Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski nearby, it dropped to the ground and the Patriots championship chances _ and the clock _ fell to zero.

Belichick’s strategy, sound though it might have been, didn’t work out.

“He made a good decision,” Brady said. “We left ourselves with a little bit of time.”

Early this season, the Patriots lost to the Buffalo Bills 34-31 in the third game when they couldn’t get the ball back.

The Bills appeared to score with 1:43 left on a 39-yard pass play from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Fred Jackson. But the ruling that Jackson crossed the goal line was reversed after replay and Buffalo got the ball at the 1. Fitzpatrick kept kneeling on every play until Rian Lindell kicked a winning 28-yard field goal as time expired.

Belichick’s clear-the-way order was similar to Holmgren’s decision in the 1998 Super Bowl. The score was tied at 24 when he let Terrell Davis score on a 1-yard run with 1:45 left rather than allow the Broncos to run down the clock for a short field goal attempt.

Brett Favre then led the Packers from their 30 to the Broncos 31. But after three straight incompletions, Denver regained possession with 28 seconds to go and John Elway kneeled down to end the game.

More recently, the New York Jets had no timeouts and tried to let Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew score on Nov. 15, 2009. But he stopped at the 1 after a 9-yard gain with about 1 1-2 minutes left.

“I was looking for someone to tackle me,” he said.

David Garrard took a knee on the next two plays and Josh Scobee kicked a 21-yard field goal that gave the Jaguars a 24-22 victory.

Jones-Drew’s play reminded Garrard of when Philadelphia’s Brian Westbrook also took a knee at the 1 to seal a late-season win over Dallas in 2007.

But the Super Bowl decision by Belichick is likely to linger the longest as sports fans debate its wisdom over the years.

At least one person with a rooting interest, Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, knew it wouldn’t work.

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