West Long Branch, NJ (The Verge)- When the Giants and Patriots take the field, you can be guaranteed an instant classic is imminent. Superbowl XLVI proved to be no different. The Giants prevailed 21-17 in a game that went down to the wire. However, it’s always fun to hear the “what ifs” and lively banter from opposing fans. Many Patriot fans argue that their team only lost the game and the Giants did not win it. They all point to the big drop by Wes Welker late in the fourth quarter, that would have given the Pats a first down deep in Giants territory. First of all, Tom Brady did not make his best throw. Second of all, there were still three minutes left and the Giants had one timeout. So, that first down would not have iced the game.
The Pats, at the time, were also leading 17-15. So if they failed to convert a first down even after Welker “made” a catch, a field goal would have only put them up by five. Many Pats fans also point to a drop by Deion Branch on the game’s final possession. Branch would have gained a considerable number of yards, yes. However, the pass was also nearly intercepted by Kenny Phillips. In a sense, the play evens out. The Giants also fumbled three times, all of which they recovered, or escaped due to a Patriot penalty. If you were not athletic enough to recover a live ball, then do not complain that you did not retain possession. If you were flagged for having too many men on the field, then the mental mistake is your own.
Here are a few other things to consider: The Giants were driving in Patriot territory in the fourth quarter when Eli Manning’s pass to Mario Manningham was incomplete. Instant replay showed Pats’s cornerback Sterling Moore made contact with Manningham before the ball reached the Giants receiver, which should have resulted in a pass interference penalty, and a first down. Also, towards the end of the first half when the Giants were driving, Brandon Jacobs’s third down run for a first was called back for a phantom holding call on Pats defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Replay showed there was no hold; Wilfork just went to the ground, which does not often happen. So, he was essentially given a call based on reputation of being a dominant performer.
You can argue back and forth all you want about “what could have,” or “should have” been. At the end of the day, no team is perfect. The Giants made plays when they had to and the Patriots did not. It’s as simple as that. We often hear that a game is decided in the fourth quarter, and the Giants outscored the Pats 6-0. More importantly, they made things happen. Manning lead the Giants on a drive to take the lead with less than a minute left to take the lead, highlighted by a 38 yards pass from Manning to Manningham. The Patriots failed to answer. This game is not about what should have happened; its about making a play when your team needs it most.