INDIANAPOLIS (CBS) – Four years ago, it was a David Tyree circus catch that haunted the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

In 2012, it’s a drop by one of their best receivers.

With under five minutes left, and the Patriots facing a second-and-11 on the New York 44, Tom Brady went to the reliable Wes Welker, who has a knack for finding the first down marker.

He was well beyond that, and would have given the Patriots a great chance at eating more clock, and possibly holding on to their 17-15 lead.

Instead, the ball fell through his hands setting up a third-and-11 with 4:06 left. Brady threw an incomplete to Deion Branch and the Patriots had to punt with 3:46 remaining in the game.

A drive that lasted 5:31 resulted in no points on the board, and gave the ball back to the Giants.

Nine plays and 88 yards later, Ahmad Bradshaw fell back into the end zone to put give the Giants a 21-17 lead, and eventually their second Super Bowl in four season.

Welker Postgame 

“It’s one I’ll have to deal with,” Welker said from the podium after the game, fighting back tears. “I’ve made that play 1,000 times.”

“It hit me right in the hands. I mean, it’s a play I never drop,” he said. “Most critical situation and I let the team down.”

The pass was not perfect by any means, a little behind the receiver, but it’s a drop he will never live down.

“It’s a play I’ve got to bring in,” he said. “The ball is right there. I’ve just got to make the play.”

He finished with seven catches for 60 yards. His eighth would have made all the difference in the world.

But Welker’s quarterback is not blaming Welker for the loss.

“You win as a team, and you lose as a team. Certainly one play wasn’t the reason we lost,” Brady said. “He’s a competitor and I’ll keep throwing the ball to him as long as I can. He’s a phenomenal teammate.”

One thing to note; Welker’s playoff mustache was shaved immediately after the game.

Yes, there were certainly other plays left on the field that can be looked upon. Brady was called for intentional grounding which resulted in a safety on New England’s first offensive play. A too many men on the field penalty negated a Patriots fumble recovery. Linebacker Rob Ninkovich was flagged for an offsides penalty early in the fourth that gave the Giants five yards, and Eli Manning a chance to make amends for an incompletion to Victor Cruz. He did with 12 yards to Hakeem Nicks, and while the drive did not end in any points for the Giants, it killed nearly four minutes off the clock.

There were also two key non-receptions by Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez on the final drive, further dooming any chance at a comeback.

Drops happen, and it is hard to criticize Welker who has done a lot for the Patriots in his five seasons in New England. As Brady said, the loss is on the team, not an individual player.

But still, “what if” will always be in the minds of the Patriots and their fans when it comes to that play.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunities to miss out on. We definitely had ours and didn’t take advantage. I’m right there at the top of the list,” Welker said.

One way the Patriots can help Welker get over the pass he didn’t catch; a nice fat contract extension. The receiver is heading to free agency this off-season.

Even though he couldn’t make the play on the biggest stage, he has certainly earned it.

Comments (16)
  1. sloopjohnB2 says:

    Too many dumb, stupid penalties. Gave the Giants too many chances. That drop by Welker was the play of the game. If he makes the catch, the game is over. Too bad because he has been so good for them but that play cost them bigtime.

    1. gramps says:

      Sports Illistrated 21, PATS 17…..

      Move over Tom & Payton, Eli gets the ‘window seat’!



      It was the off side penalty…..Welker, should not be made the ‘patsie’!

  2. The Patriots over achieved all season long and should be proud of the way their defense played when it mattered. This is a tremendously disappointing loss for Patriot Nation and there’s nothing anyone can say to make the heartbreak go away.

    But there in competitive sports, there is also a winning and losing side. Let’s honor this Patriots team for making it to the Super Bowl and coming so incredibly close to winning.

    I’m grateful to the Patriots players, coaches and team owner Bob Kraft for an exciting season and so many great, inspirational moments. There is always next year, and a new opportunity to excel.

    1. Pats Fan Karen in NY says:

      well said my friend! oh to be back in pats nation. i had to relocate to ny after 30+ years in new england (help care for elderly parents). oh the pain of standing on the train platform this afternoon listening to public service announcements made by ” …. of the super bowl champion ny giants.” let’s be good sports and show our class and congratulate the winners. heads up pats nation. we’ve been there and we’ll be back.

  3. Marky says:

    I can’t believe they are trying to blame any one player. If a team goes 3 possessions in the 2nd half without being able to score with a defense that can’t stop the other team how can any one player be to blame and how can you expect to win?

  4. decol says:

    no one player lost that game!!! 5 Super Bowls in 11 years—not too shabby!!!

  5. DoverDavid says:

    As Brady said, you win as a “team” and you loose as a “team.”

    1. bryncrw says:

      That’s what losers always say.

  6. WesWelkerFan says:

    A true fan always forgives his favorite player for showing that he’s human. Stop putting the blame souly on Wes! There is plenty of blame to go around. I’m still Wes Welker biggest fan! I’ve forgiven him and if you’re a true fan, then FORGIVE HIM and GET OVER IT!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU WES!!!!!

  7. Foolishness says:

    Amazing how people can just blame one person…. sorry, he did NOT lose the game for them, they made a lot of mistakes throughout the game. So did the Giants, they just ended up winning. All you “fans” ripping on Welker deserve to lose him to another team next year where he can be appreicated, he’s been a great receiver! Love how when they win, it’s all “Brady won” Brady Brady Brady…. but when they lose, it’s always someone other than Brady that lost it. They all had some bad plays, even Brady. The important thing is we made it to the Superbowl, we kept the game close, and next year we will win! No more ripping on poor Welker. How about ripping on the Supermodel who ripped on all our players in defense of her husband?

  8. bryncrw says:

    You’re right, you blew it along with Deon (twice). Remember ” that” when your driving home. Let it replay in your mind over and over. and when contract time comes remember it then too. Don’t be surprised when they say you can get there but you can’t cash in……
    So next time your driving home over the bridge think about it long and hard think about all those team mates you let down, the office personnel, the entire community. Think about it all off season. Think, will I be dropped or traded? If ever the chance again will I make this catch or drop it again?
    The bridge is coming up Wes, whatd’ya think?
    As Yogi once said when you see the fork in the road take it………….which way are you going Wes, which way??????????????

  9. Patssuck says:

    Can’t cheat…can’t win. 3 superbowls won by kicking field goals……..real dynastys Beat teams by scoring touchdowns in big games….3-4 in superbowls…….time to go after the Vickings and Bills for most losses

  10. Bad Defense says:

    The game was NOT OVER YET even if Wes Welker makes that catch. Suppose the Patriots gain NUTHIN’ on 2 running plays and only burn 40 seconds off the clock because the Giants burn their last time out. Then Brady throws an incompletion in the end zone on 3rd and long and the Pats settle for 3.

    In all likelihood, Eli Manning would get the ball back with about 3 minutes to go in the game somewhere between his OWN 20-30 yard line, down 20-15. A FG can’t win the game anymore, but still more than enough time to march down the field and punch it in the end zone with about 30 seconds left in the game. Sound familiar?

    The Drop sure hurt, but unless it lead to a TD that put the game out of reach the Giants would likely still have had one last chance with PLENTY of time left.

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