It was Game On for Super Bowl XLVI.
Brady (27 of 41 passing for 276 yards) did not have a good fourth quarter. He was intercepted, and threw a couple of passes to the wrong side of his receivers, most notably the second-and-11 pass that Welker almost came up with. A completion would have changed everything. But the ball was not thrown well.
“It’s one of those plays I’ve made a thousand times,’’ said a teary-eyed Welker. “Just didn’t make it . . . It comes to the biggest moment of my life and I don’t come up with it. It’s discouraging. Most critical situation and I let the team down.’’
Still, the Patriots were looking good after a punt when Manning took over on his 12-yard line with 3:46 left.
That’s when the season-long suspect Patriots’ defense reared its ugly head.
Manning went for a long ball on the first play and connected with Manningham on a sensational sideline pass play. The Patriots reviewed the completion, but it was upheld.
Two minutes later, the Patriots fell down on purpose and let the Giants score a touchdown. It was their only chance.
“Ball was inside the 10-yard line, a 90 percent field goal conversion,’’ said Hoodie.
The final drive saw the Patriots get to midfield. There was almost a miracle on the final play, but three Giants defenders lined up in front of Aaron Hernandez on the Hail Mary and batted the ball to the ground, inches from Rob Gronkowski’s outstretched arms.
“We kept fighting to the end,’’ said Brady. “If we make that last play, we’re world champions.’’
When the Stanley Cup Champion Bruins visited the White House Jan. 23, President Obama said, “The Bruins, the Sox, the Celtics, now the Patriots. Enough already, Boston. What’s going on?’’
Nothing, Mr. President. Nothing at all. After a decade of dominance, New England seems to be shifting back toward the Big Middle. The Bruins have been in a midseason slump. The Celtics are calcifying before our eyes. The Red Sox are pinching pennies, falling further behind their rivals in the American League. And the Patriots have lost two straight Super Bowls in the final minute against the New York Football Giants.
Instead of celebrating a grand slam—championships in every major sport over a period of four years and four months—New Englanders are spitting out pieces of their broken luck, bracing for the avalanche of grief from those annoying New Yorkers.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com.