In the End, the Patriots Defeated the Patriots with Sloppy Play and Uncharacteristic Mistakes

by on December 22nd, 2010
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The next few days will be filled with stories of how Eli Manning bested one of the greatest quarterbacks of a generation but that story line will only be partially true, if true at all. The fact of the matter is, the New England Patriots defeated themselves and this offense should go down in the history of the Super Bowl as one of the greatest “could haves” that ever occurred.
To begin with, the safety on the first offensive play of the day by Tom Brady was something that never should have happened, even to a rookie in his first game in the NFL. There simply is no excuse for a seasoned veteran of Tom Brady’s stature to make a mistake like that and it set the tone for the game. It gave the Giants their first two points of the game but more importantly, it gave them (essentially) the entire first quarter of the game. The second offensive play that didn’t happen (and should have) was the Brady to Welker miss in the fourth quarter. If Welker makes that catch, the game is essentially over. The Patriots run out the clock, or most of it, score 7 and win the Superbowl.It was a nearly inexcusable miscue that will not be forgotten in Patriots nation until (if) the Patriots return to the Superbowl and redeem themselves.
Another part of the offense that will most certainly be discussed was the lack of production by Gronkowski. While the announcers repeated several times that his injury was having an impact on his play, it was quite obvious that he was open on several plays that could have made a difference and Tom Brady never threw him the ball. The only time Brady DID throw him the ball was the ill conceived play where Tom Terrific lofted the ball down the length of the field only to have it intercepted (his 2nd major mistake of the game).
While the offense was essentially ineffectual for the Patriots except for the last drive of the first half and the first drive of the second half, the defense has to take some of the blame as well. Not that the defense played poorly – they didn’t. The defense for the Patriots actually played pretty well and contained the Giant offense through most of the game, there was no excuse for the first touchdown they gave up to the Giants. Had the defender who crossed in front of Cruz (Jerod Mayo) actually taken the time to look for the ball, it could have been easily intercepted or at least batted away. That mistake put the Patriots in a 9 to 0 hole. The second (technically the first) mistake by the defense was having 12 men on the field early in the game when they could have come away with a fumble but didn’t.
Eli Manning received the Super Bowl MVP award but he didn’t really have a great game. We had another Tyree moment with Manningham where he made an unforgettable, and nearly impossible and improbable, catch that moved the chains almost 40 yards but outside of that Eli was nearly as pedestrian as Tom Brady in this one. I thought if anyone deserved the MVP it was Manningham for that catch. Still, when it is all said and done, the Patriots lost a game they could have won and the Giants bested a team that looked like anything but a great team with a great pedigree. The Patriots made critical mental mistakes (12 men on the field for instance) and didn’t make the plays when they needed to and the Giants did and as Bill Belichick likes to say – they made more plays than our team did. I think more importantly, the Giants didn’t shoot themselves in the foot, playing a solid game and not giving anything away to the Patriots while the Patriots did the opposite with some poorly played football.

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