Giants vs. Patriots: 5 Missed Opportunities That Buried Patriots

Wes StueveContributor IIIFebruary 5, 2012

Giants vs. Patriots: 5 Missed Opportunities That Buried Patriots

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    Sure, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl, but the New England Patriots helped out at times.

    New England missed its fair share of opportunities, and it's safe to say these blown chances cost them the game. A few plays can make all the difference in the biggest of all games.

    So yes, there should be articles about why the Giants won this game. But this one is about why the Patriots lost it.

The Safety

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    In the end, New England lost by more than two points, but this safety's impact goes beyond that. For starters, the Patriots lost the ball, killing their chances at scoring on the drive.

    Secondly, the Giants would take the ball after Zoltan Mesko's punt and score a touchdown. That's a nine-point swing right there, and that's ignoring the momentum of the event. 

Victor Cruz Fumble

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    After catching an Eli Manning pass, Victor Cruz was tackled by Brandon Spikes and Sterling Moore. He fumbled, and the Patriots recovered.

    Wait, New England had 12 players on the field.

    This is the most elementary of mistakes, and one an NFL team should never make. Without this penalty, New York's drive is killed, and the Patriots have field position and momentum on their side.

Rob Ninkovich Offsides

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    Just after Tom Brady's fourth-quarter interception, the New England Patriots apparently stopped the Giants on 3rd-and-7.

    Nope, Rob Ninkovich was offsides.

    In the end, New York wouldn't score on this possession, but the penalty cost the Patriots 50 yards in field position. In a game this close, 50 yards could be more than enough to change the final score.

The Other Two Fumbles

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    In this loss, New England forced three fumbles and recovered none. We already covered Victor Cruz's non-fumble, but Hakeem Nicks' and Ahmad Bradshaw's lucky breaks may have been even bigger plays.

    Bradshaw fumbled around the 10-yard line, only for Chris Snee to jump on the ball. Nicks' fumble occurred downfield, and a trailing Henry Hynoski recovered. 

    If either one of these fumbles—especially Bradshaw's—bounces towards the Patriots, Tom Brady may have another ring. 

Wes Welker Misconnection

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    The Patriots were driving, and Tom Brady found Wes Welker wide open downfield. Brady launched the ball, Welker twisted in mid-air...and the ball bounced off Welker's hands.

    I'm not going to say the incomplete pass was Welker's fault or Brady's fault. But it was a play that should have been made, and it probably cost New England a Super Bowl title.