INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The New England Patriots‘ three star receivers couldn’t make the big plays when they needed them. Neither could their superstar quarterback.
“We had opportunities to put this team away and we didn’t,” wide receiver Deion Branch said after Sunday night’s 21-17 loss. “All the plays were big.”
From the Patriots‘ first offensive play _ Brady’s deep pass from the end zone to nobody that resulted in a safety for intentional grounding _ to their last _ a desperation heave into the same end zone _ they made mistakes and wasted opportunities.
The throw wasn’t perfect. Welker had to twist his body to reach it. But he did get two hands on it as he was falling backward and blamed himself for failing in a critical situation.
“It’s one of those plays I’ve made 1,000 times,” he said. “It comes to the biggest moment of my life, and (I) don’t come up with it.”
On the next play, Brady threw behind Branch over the middle.
“Every play is important,” Branch said. “Had I made the catch that was behind me, that could have been a key third down (conversion) but we didn’t connect on it.”
So the Patriots punted and Eli Manning led the Giants on an 88-yard drive with Ahmad Bradshaw going in from 6 yards for a 21-17 lead with 57 seconds left. The defense let him score so Brady could get the ball back with enough time for a long shot comeback. He did get the ball to his 44-yard line with 5 seconds left.
Time enough for one pass into the end zone.
Hernandez and Gronkowski were there with three Giants. The ball was tipped and fell to the ground away from a lunging Gronkowski. The Giants celebrated as purple confetti fell. Brady removed his helmet and walked off the field.
“I felt like I was close,” Gronkowski said. “But close isn’t there.”
It was quite an ending for a team that had the second-ranked passing game in the NFL.
Welker led the league with 122 receptions, Gronkowski set a single-season record with 17 touchdown catches by a tight end and Hernandez had 79 catches while operating out of the tight end, wide receiver and running backs spots. And Brady threw for 5,235 yards, second most in NFL history.View Entire Story
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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