By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Sometimes, sports cliches can prove to be deadly accurate.
“They say it’s a game of inches,” James White said after the Patriots’ 38-31 win over the Bears on Sunday, “and that’s kind of what it came down to.”
In this case, those inches that decided the game were the ones between the goal line and the football in Kevin White’s arm with zeroes on the clock in a seven-point game. The receiver had caught a Hail Mary from Mitchell Trubisky just short of the end zone, but Duron Harmon and the McCourty twins ambushed White as soon as he caught the pass to prevent him from scoring.
“The Hail Mary, the guy caught it, it was super close,” James White said. “Everybody was aware then to at least make the tackle, so that’s pretty good.”
Patriots receiver Josh Gordon caught four passes for 100 yards, but he was called upon to play defense on the Hail Mary play. He wasn’t able to break up the pass, but he watched as the McCourtys and Harmon kept Kevin White from scoring.
“I don’t know. Just too many people I think around the ball all at once to try to even figure out what’s going on,” Gordon said after the win. “I wanted to grab it, somebody else wanted to grab it, you know, pushing and pulling, everything like that. He ended up with it, so it was a great play for him, definitely. Fortunately enough we were able to hold him out the end zone.”
Harmon, who really shifted the momentum of the ball carrier when he joined the crowd, stated pretty simply that he was just doing his specific job on the play.
“Making sure that I didn’t jump, because you always want to jump and try to get a shot at the ball. But just making sure I was doing my job, and my job is to play deep tip,” Harmon said. “Seeing him catch it, good thing I was playing right on the goal line. As soon as he caught it, I was good, in good position to just go there and tackle him and keep him out of the end zone.”
Tom Brady threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns with one interception on the day, but all he could do was watch on the final play.
“Obviously it came down to about one yard,” Brady said. “[Trubisky] got a good throw on it. And [White] made a really good play. I think those are just, you hold your breath. I saw him jump up and catch it. I obviously didn’t have the angle on the goal line, but I thought he was getting close to the end zone. And they were pushing and we were pushing, and I’m sure it was, what, probably a half-yard or a yard? Pretty close. So good for us to hold them out.”
While the Patriots were all relieved by the results, head coach Bill Belichick didn’t feel much like sharing his emotions from that particular moment. Belichick was asked what his thoughts were regarding the defensive effort to prevent the touchdown.
“I mean, it looked like we tackled him before he got in,” Belichick stated flatly.
While that is true, it’s just about the least exciting way that play could ever be described. A finish like that doesn’t happen often in the NFL, and the Patriots just have to be relieved that they came out on the right side of the result.