This time, Brady had the ball and the time to work with. This time, Giant circus catches were not enough. This time it was the Giants that committed cataclysmic miscues.
This Time, just when it looked as though the football Gods were once again clad in Giants blue, luck turned. In what will go down as an instant classic the New England Patriots took down the New York Giants 27-26.
Ok, I know many will find this as overdramatizing a mid-season win, but didn’t it feel greatly more than just that?
That feeling existed even before Patriots placekicker Stephen Gostkowski hit a 54-yard field goal to give the Patriots a 27-26 lead with one second to play in the game.
The game began with a methodical opening drive by Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. Draining 8:20 of first quarter clock, Brady surgically dissected the Giants defense in 14 plays covering 80-yards capped by a one yard toss to tight end Scott Chandler.
The opening series had Patriots fans thinking this game would be a cakewalk. But these were the Giants.
It took Eli Manning just two plays to draw level as on second down, he found Odell Beckham Jr. streaming down the right sideline. The pass came a yard ahead of Beckham, who out maneuvered Cornerback Malcolm Butler to snag it and then evaded Safety Devin McCourty before racing to an 87-yard finish. The play was the longest pass completion versus a Bill Belichick defense. EVER.
With the score level at 7 apiece, the Patriots suffered a major setback when wide receiver Julian Edelman went down with a foot injury. More on this later.
After exchanging field goals, the Giants took a 17-10 halftime lead when Manning lead a 7-play, 74-yard drive in just under a minute.
In the third, the Giants would add a field goal to extend their lead to 10 points, the largest deficit the Patriots had faced all season.
The Patriots offense was sputtering mainly due to the play of its’ offensive line which was cracking under a surprisingly resurgent Giants pass-rush.
But just when all seemed lost, wide receiver Danny Amendola breathed life into the Patriots, with his 82-yard runback of a Brad Wing punt. The runback would have gone for points had teammate Duron Harmon not halted Amendola by inadvertently knocking him down at the 7-yard line. Harmon managed to accomplish what 11 Giant players could not do.
Four plays later, a one-yard touchdown leap by LeGarette Blount ensured that Harmon would not wear goat horns.
Following a Giants field goal by kicker Josh Brown who was 4-for-4 on his attempts Sunday afternoon, Brady found tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 76-yard touchdown giving the Patriots a one-point lead at 24-23. But there was still 11:33 on the fourth quarter clock. History has proven that whenever these two teams meet up viewers are in for a wild finish.
With a chance to put the game away at the Giants five-yard line, Brady made a monumental mistake by forcing the ball in coverage to Brandon LaFell. Corner Trumaine McBride intercepted the pass and what formulated next was the stuff of football greatness.
As expected, Manning led the Giants on what appeared to be a game winning drive. In 15-plays, the Giants offense drove 86-yards capped by a Beckham touchdown for a 30-24 lead. Uh, that’s how games in this rivalry went the past three times, but not this time. Not in this meeting. Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler swiped at the ball at the last second knocking it out of Beckham’s hands. Beckham acknowledged his part in the Giants loss. “That’s on me, I’ve got to catch that ball.”
The Giants would have to settle for a field goal, but also leave Tom Brady with over a minute and a half to bring his team back.
Overcoming a fourth and 10 and aided by a boneheaded dropped interception by Giants safety Landon Collins, Brady got the Patriots in range for a 54-yard field goal by Gostkowski. In crunch time, Brady and Gostkowski did what they always do.
“We needed to finish the game. This time, the other guy finished the game.” said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
The win came at a price as the Edelman foot injury was revealed to be a broken bone. Edelman had surgery on Monday and will be sidelined at least 6 weeks, meaning he may return for the playoffs.
“We’ve got to find different ways,” said Brady on the status of Julian Edelman. “Guys stepped up when Julian got hurt. We’re down a bunch of tackles and guys are playing out of their usual positions. I think we just keep grinding our way through it. You’ve got to find different ways to win.”
Edelman took to social media following surgery with a promising message to Patriots fans:
Christian A. Guarino, a Boston North End resident, writes about football and soccer for the Boston Post Gazette.