Tom Brady didn’t catch the man whom as a kid he idolized. It could have been because a couple of his best receivers didn’t catch the ball. But ever the team player, Brady was philosophical, not angry.
Another Super Bowl for Brady — the fifth in 10 years — and after three victories, a second straight loss. This time to the same team, the New York Giants, who beat him four years ago. Sunday, in Super Bowl XLVI, those Giants defeated Brady’s New England Patriots 21-17.
“I think everybody is just disappointed,” Brady said, “but I’d rather come to this game and lose than not come here.”
He grew up in San Mateo, going to 49ers games, and like so many others in the Bay Area, was a fan of Joe Montana. Like Joe, he was a quarterback — still is a quarterback — at Serra High School, at Michigan and with New England.
Had the Pats won this one, Brady would have tied Montana with four Super Bowl wins.
But the Pats didn’t win this one, in part because of his counterpart on the Giants, Eli Manning; in part because of a Giants defense no less relentless than it was two weeks earlier in the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers; in part because the New England receivers — Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez — so reliable, dropped balls in the fourth quarter.
“It always comes down to one or two plays in this game,” Brady said. “You make them and you’re celebrating. If not, you don’t sleep for a week.”
The Patriots’ defense was no help, either, not that anyone expected it to be, ranked 31st in the NFL — or next to last — in yards allowed. The Giants took control early, grinding out yards, and when that didn’t work, getting first downs on passes by Manning, a Super Bowl MVP for the second time.
While the Giants had only four more points than the Patriots, they had a huge lead in time of possession — 37 minutes, 5 seconds — compared to 22:55 for New England.
“We didn’t have the ball that much,” said Brady, an understatement. In the first quarter, when they fell behind 9-0, the Patriots barely had it at all, 3 minutes, 32 seconds.
After stopping a Giants drive, the Patriots took over on their own 6-yard line.
Brady, the first time he touched the ball, dropped into his own end zone and trying to escape the rush, threw deep to, well, nobody. Intentional grounding was called, an automatic safety in that situation, and the Giants not only got two points, but got the ball back.
“It was the decision of the referee,” said Brady, who seemingly was surprised by the call. “But the Giants are a very good football team. They put a lot of pressure on us.”
Brady completed 16 straight passes, a Super Bowl record, in the second and third quarters and finished 27-of-41 for 276 yards and two touchdowns (Manning, the MVP, was 30-of-40 for 296 yards and one touchdown).
The Patriots, in a tactic which never works, allowed the Giants to score with 1:04 to play so they’d have time remaining. Brady moved to his own 49, and with 5 seconds left, hurled a Hail Mary. It was exciting, but unsuccessful.
“I wish,” said Brady, “we could have done a little bit more.”
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.