The incompletion that could have helped the New England Patriots put away Super Bowl XLVI -- and kept Tom Brady's wife, Gisele, from infamously bashing the quarterback's wide receivers -- "wasn't a drop," former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien said.
O'Brien, now the Penn State head coach, told reporters at the Big New England Coaching Clinic that the notorious pass not handled by receiver Wes Welker was no gimme.
"That would have been a tremendous catch, and he should never think twice about that," O'Brien said. "And it had nothing to do with us losing the game. There were many, many plays before that, where we could have made better coaching decisions, and better plays. That's just one play of many."
Evidence from the game supports O'Brien's notion that the play wasn't a simple drop, but the idea that "it had nothing to do with us losing the game" is less realistic.
While there were many plays that contributed to the New York Giants' 21-17 win over the Patriots, the missed opportunity by New England with 4:06 certainly had much to do with the Giants getting a chance to put together their game-winning drive.
New England led 17-15 at the time and faced a second-and-11 from the Giants' 44. Welker was open downfield and would have put the Patriots in the red zone if he came down with the catch, which would have allowed New England, at the very least, to eat up more of the clock.
Replays have shown, though, the pass was a touch high.
A distraught Welker did not look at the play that way after the game.
"That's a play I make a thousand times," Welker said then. "I just didn't make it."
The play likely helped spark an infamous post-game scene with Brady's wife, Gisele, caught on camera responding to hecklers as she made her way through Lucas Oil Stadium.
"My husband cannot (expletive) throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time," she said on a video captured by gossip site theinsider.com. "I can't believe they dropped the ball so many times."
O'Brien focused on the overall accomplishments for Welker, who has made four straight Pro Bowls, and led the NFL with 122 receptions last season.
"I would tell (New England fans) they should be very grateful to have a player like Wes Welker as a Patriot," O'Brien said this weekend of Welker, who is expected to get the team's franchise tag by Monday's deadline. "He is what Boston is all about, in my opinion. He's a hard-working guy, he's a tough guy, he's an honest guy; nothing was ever given to him.
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