BOSTON (CBS) – How much do you think Wes Welker wishes he had caught that ball on Sunday?
Maybe the Patriots would have gone on to beat the Giants, and the typically sure-handed receiver certainly wouldn’t be dealing with the unfair wrath of the media on a daily basis. Maybe he’s got his first Super Bowl ring and posting every 10 seconds on Twitter about how good it feels to be a champion, or what it’s like to have the world’s second most famous mustache (next to Tom Selleck, of course).
I don’t know, but I do know this:
Dinners out with the Brady’s are going to be awkward for a while! Can’t you just picture it?
Wes: Tom, could you pass the rolls?
Tom: Sure thing, Wes.
Gisele [under her breath]: Try not to drop them all over the table …
Wes: What’s that?
Gisele: Hmm? Oh, nothing.
Tom: So what are you guys gonna order?
Wes: The lobster looks good.
Gisele: Yeah, when you’re not the one catching it …
We’ve all heard Tom’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, and her postgame rant about how Tom-terrific would be better at your job than you are. Ask her and he could probably write this article better than I will, and I bet he’d drive a mean mail truck, too.
You could call her a brat, spoiled or just plain ignorant for saying, “My husband cannot f—ing throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time!” and you’d be about the one millionth person to do so. Just don’t call her man ‘OK-looking,’ or she might unleash one of her mystical supermodel powers.
You could call Brady a different guy than he was back when the Pats won three Super Bowls in four years, a glamorized version of himself that’s still awfully good at his job but just doesn’t have that same edge he once did. Will Smith comes to mind. If things go south in another three to four years, Nicholas Cage might as well. You wouldn’t be the first to make that accusation either.
Teammates are quick to defend Welker, as they should be. Win as a team, lose as a team. We know this. But, what we should also all keep in mind is that one play – or at least this play – doesn’t decide the Super Bowl. If Brady and Welker connect there, New England probably kicks a field goal or maybe scores a touchdown. Or, you could view it from the perspective of killing more clock late in the fourth, forcing the Giants into having to score a touchdown for the lead, or maybe putting the thing out of reach altogether as a two-possession game. If that’s all guaranteed, the experts are right and there should have been another duck boat parade this week.
Consider this, though, if common sense hasn’t allowed you to yet: Maybe Welker makes that catch, but the next play is a fumble, an interception or some divine intervention courtesy of Tim Tebow’s boy, Jesus. Maybe the Pats line up for that field goal, and Steven Goskowski Cundiffs it wildly into the crowd. Giants ball, still a 17-15 lead, and time for another heroic Eli comeback.
Hard as it is to believe after the year that was, but you can’t attack the defense too much. Before the game, if asked how we felt about limiting New York to 19 points (safety, aside), we’d all ask where to sign. But, the case can also be made that the group had to make one big stop, and it didn’t. The end, game over.
So, in Vegas-speak, that argument’s a push.
The point is, as has been well-documented, while a game can be defined by a mere moment or two – in this case, the Mario Manningham catch that was, and the Welker catch that wasn’t – the reality is there are so many other things that went wrong for New England in Indianapolis.
Brady was sub-standard on this night, made some poor throws, plus he was intercepted when trying to find an injured Rob Gronkowski, who’s good for much more than 26 yards when healthy. Twelve men on the field. Two drops on the final possession of the game.
None of those are excuses, just realities. It’s why we love the NFL. Some nights you get the Tuck Rule, others the Helmet Catch. You don’t get that in any other game.
Fans can rationalize this loss however they’d like.
Blame Welker, one of the best receivers in the franchise’s history, but I’m not buying it. Blame Brady, who obviously made some mistakes, but I dare you in good conscious to hang that whole game on his head. Call it a choke-job if you want, if you refuse to give the Giants the credit they deserve. Say it’s the end of an era – I don’t believe that either. Based on next year’s Super Bowl favorite odds, neither does Vegas.
As a Patriots fan, I do believe I now hate the Giants. In January of 2007, I couldn’t have cared less about them. One month later, I was bitter and full of angst. Now, they beat my team again on the biggest stage imaginable and I think I have more disdain for them than I do Sexy Rexy’s Jets. By training camp, I’ll probably have reverted back because, hey, as Bostonians, we just love to hate New York teams. Give us a reason, and we’ll hate the MLS Red Bulls.
Thing is, who cares? No matter how Gisele sees the world through her Tom-loving glasses, we’ve got to recognize as sports fans that the better team won at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. Whether Peyton or Eli, it truly is Manning’s house. If the Pats and Giants meet 10 times, perhaps they split. The way these games have ended, you could certainly make that case. But, Tom Coughlin’s G-Men have won the last three and, no matter how narrow the margin, he’s got the Pats figured out right now and you have to respect it. Not enjoy it, just respect it.
The Giants won the Super Bowl, and they’ve had better things to do since than to face questions about Tom’s gorgeous, famous wife opening her mouth. I don’t blame Brandon Jacobs for saying, “she just needs to continue to stay cute and shut up.”
That said, for everyone other than us media folks, it’s a dead issue. The season’s postmortem? That’s got a long way to go. So, I’ll just take my rational hat off and leave you as a bitter Pats fan:
Hey, Jacobs! You shut up! Go enjoy your stupid trophy! See ya next year, ya dink!
Adam Kaufman, a native of Massachusetts, joined the Sports Hub as an on-air personality in June 2011. He has worked as a television and radio anchor and broadcaster for various outlets since 2004, and his written views on sports and entertainment have appeared on NESN.com and in the New England Hockey Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamMKaufman.