It was about halfway through the third quarter of Super Bowl XLII. Gostkowski, in amazement at the enormity of his coach's error, stood not far from his kicking net watching the pivotal play unfold.
Everybody and their mother knew it was a bad call by Belichick to keep his Pro-Bowl kicker sidelined for a fourth and 13 from the Giant's 32 in a tightly contested 7-3 game deep into the third quarter.
I'm sure Brady knew it as he took the snap from Dan Koppen. I'm sure he knew it as he released the pass. I'm sure Moss knew it as he watched Brady's errant pass sail over his head and out of bounds.
I'm sure Gostkowski knew as he watched from his perch on the sideline, just as I knew it as soon as I saw the offensive unit remain on the field. Everybody knew. Everybody except Belichick.
Then again, maybe he knew. Maybe in his own strange, distorted mind he knew he was giving away three points to the Giants. Maybe his arrogance disabled him from believing his team could lose.
Maybe he, along with the 60 percent of America, including myself, that picked New England to win, had already written off the upstart Giants. Maybe he considered the title his after his team's 21-12 victory over a beat-up San Diego team two weeks prior.
Maybe he viewed the NFC as a junior varsity league filled with teams that wouldn't recognize the Lombardi trophy if it hit them in the facemask.
If that is the case, I really can't blame him. These were my views prior to that last minute drive by Manning, which still doesn't sound right, where the Giants capped the game with a TD pass to Burress.
A wise man once said, "That's why they play the games!".
But as Brady scrambled frantically around the backfield searching for a receiver, still shocked by the impossibility of his situation, I thought of one play.
As he fired the ball as far downfield as his cannon of an arm would allow, I thought of one play.
As his desperation Hail Mary fell short, I thought of one play.
As the ball rolled harmlessly on the muddied turf, I thought of one play.
As the teams prematurely strolled onto the field for the postgame ceremonies, I thought of one play.
As the officials restored order for the final one second kneel down by Manning, I thought of one play.
As the score officially showed the Giants being the champions of Super Bowl XLII by three points over the previously unbeaten Patriots, I only thought of one play.
It was about halfway through the third quarter of Super Bowl XLII.
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