Wes Welker's Butterfingers Shouldn't Take Blame for Patriots' Loss

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots drops a pass in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

In the wake of New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker's drop in the Super Bowl, the reliable slot machine has taken a beating.

The most blatant was a publicity stunt by pawngo.com, in which the Internet pawn shop left 900 lbs. of Butterfinger candy bars in Boston's Copley Square.

According to Bernie Augustine of the New York Daily News, the Denver-based company also left a sign on the mountain of candy thta read, "Thank you Wes Welker."

While Welker's error was the most high-profile mistakes of the Super Bowl, there are plenty of others who should be receiving blame.

Photo courtesy of New York Daily News
Photo courtesy of New York Daily News

Here are three reasons why Welker should be given a pass by fans for his dropped pass in Super Bowl XLVI.

The Throw Wasn't Very Good

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a three-time Super Bowl winner and two-time Super Bowl MVP, so it's understandable why some may deem him untouchable in terms of receiving blame.

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The fact of the matter is, however, that his pass to Welker with the Pats clinging to a 17-15 lead late in the fourth quarter simply wasn't very good. Not only was it high and away, but it was behind Welker, so he had to contort his body and lunge for the ball.

That isn't to say that it was the worst throw in the world, but if Brady had put the ball in front of Welker, then Welker would be viewed as a hero rather than a goat right now.

Many receivers in the league may have come up with the ball, but many receivers aren't 5'9" like Welker. Since he's such a small receiver, the catch was a lot more difficult than it's being made out to be.

It's only fair that Brady bears some of the responsibility for putting Welker in a bad position to make the catch.

Other Receivers Dropped Passes, Too

Welker's drop has been the most maligned, since it probably would have iced the game for the Patriots. But, there were plenty of other miscues by New England pass catchers throughout the game.

On the very next play after Welker's infamous drop, Deion Branch failed to come up with a pass behind him. Brady's pass to Branch was certainly worse than the one to Welker, but it wasn't uncatchable.

Branch then dropped another one on the Pats' final drive as they were trying to make a frantic comeback. The ball was tipped before it got to him, but it definitely looked like a pass he should have come up with. Had he, the Patriots would have been near midfield quicker than they were.

On top of that, tight end Aaron Hernandez dropped an easy one on the final drive, as well. Even tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was hobbled by an ankle injury, didn't make a great effort to stop an interception of an under-thrown ball in the second half.

There were miscues by nearly every relevant Patriots receiver in the game, so for Welker to take the brunt of the criticism is unfair.

The Defense Didn't Come Through in the Clutch

All season long, the Patriots offense had to bail out the defense when it failed to make stops.

New England's defense ranked 31st in the league against the pass in the regular season and was simply an easy unit to move the ball on. They had a chance to redeem themselves, however, by stopping the New York Giants on their final drive and clinching a Super Bowl win for the Pats.

What happened instead was that quarterback Eli Manning surgically moved the ball down the field, starting with a 38-yard strike to Mario Manningham, and led the G-Men on a go-ahead touchdown drive that ultimately held up as the game-winner.

If the defense would have made one big stop, then all would have been forgotten regarding Welker's drop. The defense failed just like it did for most of the season, but Welker ended up being the scapegoat.

Plenty of plays could have been made in the game, and while Welker had an opportunity, the defense didn't do its job.