So there are four minutes to go in Super Bowl XLVI and New England quarterback Tom Brady is marching his team downfield, holding on to a 17-15 lead over the Giants of New York.
Playing in his fifth big dance in 10 years, Brady is staring down the barrel of a 4-1 record in the NFL’s biggest game.
Knowing a first down will give his team the chance to wind down a lot of clock, he looks for his favourite target, wide receiver Wes Welker.
Welker is the man who has set all sorts of receiving records in the past four seasons, a guy who usually snatches anything put within arm’s reach, and sometimes even those that are just outside it.
Welker has confused the defence and beaten coverage, and Brady knows it.
He lobs the pigskin in Wes’ direction, leaving it a little above No.83’s head as he turns to face his marksman.
It’s history now that Welker gets two hands to the ball but fails to handle it. The Patriots have to punt. Eli Manning drives the G-Men downfield and snatches not only the Super Bowl but MVP status as well.
This isn’t a Welker-bagging column. He is one of the absolute elite receivers in the league, and sometimes the cards just don’t fall your way, no matter how good you are.
Sure there were a couple of other drops by Pats receivers in the final 57 seconds, but Welker’s drop undoubtedly changed the game.
Instead of the Pats having four more plays (at 40 seconds each) to wind down the Rolex, the Giants have the ball and plenty of time.
Brady’s 4-1 record, seemingly in the bag, has been reduced to 3-2, and all of a sudden any talk of him being an automatic entry into the Hall of Fame has been wiped.
Instead the talk is whether Eli, with two rings and MVP awards, is worthy of HOF status.
The answer – not before Brady. Think about what this guy has achieved.
The only time the Patriots have missed the playoffs since he arrived was the season when #12 missed the entire season after suffering a knee injury in week one. Even then they went 10-6 but still missed the playoffs (that’s just one win more than Eli’s world champions achieved this regular season).
Brady holds records for most completions achieved in a season, most touchdowns thrown in a season, and led his side to the only 16-0 regular season record since that system was introduced. He has made the Super Bowl in 50 percent of the seasons he has played, and did it this season with a defence that was ranked second worst in the league.
At this stage I will admit to being a Patriots fan, but the stats simply tell the true tale here.
As soon as Brady decides to call it quits (hopefully not for another few years) he should go into the HOF at the next induction ceremony. One dropped catch should not affect that.