EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 6, 2012

The tale of two catches and two titles

Bill Burt

INDIANAPOLIS — NBC's Cris Collinsworth called it one of "greatest catches in Super Bowl history."

Unfortunately, it was not a four-year-old quotation from a Super Bowl played in Glendale, Ariz. — see ex-New York Giants receiver David Tyree's ridiculous catch to prolong the eventual game-winning drive against the then-undefeated New England Patriots.

You remember the ball clinging to his helmet as he if used some illegal substance, right?

This Collingsworth synopsis was as fresh as the confetti that fell from the Lucas Oil Stadium rafters after the Giants' 21-17 win in Super Bowl XLVI.

He was talking about Mario Manningham's 38-yarder on first down with 3:46 left in the game and the Giants trailing 17-15 and pinned down at their own 12-yard line.

Manning threw a missile down the left sidelines. It appeared to be too close to the sidelines. Two Patriots were bothering Manningham.

Manningham not only caught the ball before he was croaked by Patrick Chung, but he got both of his feet in. To the human eye, it didn't seem possible. To the referee right there and the video replay, it was a catch ... a great catch.

In fact, Patriots coach Bill Belichick threw his red challenge flag, thus blowing a timeout he desperately could have used on their final attempt for a miracle play.

Compare that with a pass play just 24 seconds earlier. The Patriots had the ball on 3rd-and-11 from the Giants' 44. If the Patriots converted, because the Giants only had one timeout left, the game might have been over.

As Brady went back to pass, he saw Wes Welker alone streaking down the field, and I mean by himself. He floated the ball. It appeared a tad high, forcing Welker to dive for it. It wasn't easy. But he has made a lot tougher.

Welker appeared to have it but the ball came loose before he hit the ground.

"It's one of those plays I've made a thousand times," said Welker, who finished with seven catches for 60 yards. "It comes to the biggest moment in my life and (I) didn't come up with it. It's discouraging."

It appeared to be an easy pass for him, but the ball floated more than it should have. If there is a Patriots player who get a little leeway here, it's Welker, who rivals Brady in importance on this team. And it could have been in Welker's final game in New England.

"It's one play. You look at our game four years ago," said Brady. "It was a miracle play that they made. Today, we had a chance to make one of those and we couldn't come up with it."

It's a wonder these two teams play 60-minute games. Why not just skip the first 56 and let it fly the last four minutes. That's when all of the action is.

It's funny. That was the tone all week. Both of these teams were in the Super Bowl because somebody else they played didn't make that one big play.

After Manningham's catch, the Giants mowed through the Patriots defense and scored.

After Tyree's catch, the Giants mowed through the Patriots defense and scored.

Do you follow me here?

The Giants have a lot to be proud of. It could be considered luck when you achieve something once. When you do it again, under similar duress with similar success, luck is out of the equation.

The Giants made one huge play and are now two days away from a parade. And the Patriots didn't and are losers.

No wonder these guys are paid so much money.

E-mail Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.