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Tag:Will Brinson
Posted on: February 6, 2012 12:39 am
Edited on: February 6, 2012 6:41 am
 

Welker takes Super Bowl loss the hardest

Welker reacts after his drop in the fourth quarter. (AP)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- There are many people in the Patriots organization suffering the pains of losing a Super Bowl right now; Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Robert Kraft all certainly feel an inordinate amount of pain over the loss. But no one's taking it harder than Wes Welker.

It was Welker who had a shot at closing out the game, but dropped a critical catch on a high-but-catchable pass from Tom Brady.

"It's one of those plays I've made a thousand times," a somber Welker said Sunday. "Just didn't make it."

Take a look at the play. Brady misses the throw. If he hits Welker in stride, it's a touchdown and it's ballgame. But it's still on Welker to make that catch.

"The ball is right there," Welker said when asked if he was looking for it on the other shoulder. "I've just got to make the play. It's a play I've made a thousand times in practice and everything else. It comes to the biggest moment of my life and I don't come up with it. It's discouraging."

Welker even went so far as to say that he held himself personally responsible for the dropped pass. Brady didn't exactly refute him, but he also pointed out how important Welker is to the team.

"Wes was running down the field and it looked like they messed the coverage up a little bit and I threw it to him," Brad said. "He went up to try and make it, as he always does, and we just couldn't connect. He's a hell of a player. I'll keep throwing the ball to him for as long as I possibly can. He's a phenomenal player and teammate and I love the guy."

Bill Belichick echoed that sentiment, shrugging off any potential for making Welker the goat.

"I didn't get a real good look on it," Belichick said. "I'm sure he did his best. He's caught a lot of passes for us."

Belichick's right, because the Patriots don't make the Super Bowl in either 2007 or 2011 without Welker. He has been their most consistent offensive threat for the past five years, catching 554 balls for 6,105 yards and 31 touchdowns in that time.

That he could suddenly become a goat for the Pats because he dropped one catch isn't realistic. Just don't try telling him that.

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Posted on: February 6, 2012 12:12 am
Edited on: February 6, 2012 12:15 am
 

Sorting the SB Pile: New York wideouts are giant

Posted by Will Brinson

Manningham's toe-tapping changed the momentum of the game. (AP)

Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and, um, sorts through it for you. The big story, winners and losers and sometimes fancy moving pictures. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter.

The Turning Point

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL might be a quarterbacks league, but if you don't think the guys catching the passes are the most important players on an NFL roster these days, you need to re-think your approach to what constitutes a truly dangerous team. Look no further than Mario Manningham, who's insanely difficult catch on the first play of the Giants final drive sparked New York to its second Super Bowl victory in five years.

"That was the turning point," fellow wideout Hakeem Nicks said about Manningham's catch. "Mario comes up in clutch situations time in and time out throughout these playoffs and that was just another time of him showcasing that."

Manningham, who had a down regular season but made huge catches in recent games, simply "wasn't going to let the ball go."

"I knew I had to freeze my feet when the ball touched my fingertips," Manningham said. "Wherever I was at when the ball hit my fingertips, I just froze my feet and fell. I knew I was either going to get hit or hit the ground. I knew something was going to happen but that I couldn't let that ball go."

He didn't and the Giants were able to march 88 yards the field to score. What makes it particularly impressive is that the Patriots forced Manningham and Nicks to step up by blanketing the salsa-dancing Victor Cruz after his touchdown catch in the first quarter.

That's why Manning, even though was facing a Cover-2 look from the Pats secondary and didn't have a good window to work the ball in. But he trusted Manningham, found a look, stepped up and made a big-boy throw in the biggest moment on the biggest possible stage.

"Usually that is not your best match-up," Manning said afterward. "I looked that way. I saw I had the safety cheated in a little bit and threw it down the sideline. Great catch by [Manningham], keeping both feet in. That's a huge play in the game right there, when you're backed up, to get a 40-yard gain and get to the middle of field."

This isn't to say that Manning wouldn't be great without his wideouts. He would. He's a great quarterback and he played like it, particularly on that final drive and the start of the game, when Manning kicked things off by going 10 for 10.

"We notice," Nicks said of the quarterback's start. "We notice everything. We notice when he's clicking. We know when we have to step up and get the job done. Our hard work that we put in through the week and in practice and in film room just paid off."

Manningham's catch was ridiculous; but more than anything it's a microcosm of how much these wideouts meant to the Giants during their run.

Cruz carried New York at times during the regular season. Manningham scored a touchdown in the first three playoff games. How about Nicks? He only finished the season with 28 catches, 444 receiving yards and four touchdowns ... in the playoffs. The catches

Nicks was nearly unstoppable on Sunday in Indy, making big catch after big catch in traffic, going up for slightly overthrown balls and reeling them in, including a pair of critical grabs on the final drive.

"You just address [the fourth quarter] like any other time," Nicks said. "We knew what we were capable of doing. We knew we could come through in clutch situations."

That's what they did, and it should look familiar. It's the same formula that the Packers used last year when they toppled the Steelers. Nicks and Cruz are actually better than Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. And Jordy Nelson had a superior year in 2011 to Manningham, but his 2010 season (45 catches, 582 yards), followed by a postseason full of big catches is eerily reminiscent of the year Manningham (39 catches, 523 yards) just had.

"I think we as an offense have been very, very successful," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said afterwards. "Certainly the trigger-man's got to do his job. I think collectively the receivers have really stepped up, made some tremendous plays. Mario did it tonight, but it's been either Victor or Hakeem. Somebody as made some big plays, so as a group, they expect to do well. They expect to put it in the end zone."

Take it back two more years and look at the defending champions -- the Steelers and the Saints -- and you have talented wide receiving corps making catches on a huge stage.

The Patriots, like the Steelers before them, didn't have enough bodies to cover the weapons offered by their opponent. They decided to shut down the Giants top option -- Cruz -- and got torched by Nicks and Manningham.

It's the definition of sound roster-building. Given all the hype surrounding the Pats tight ends in 2011, it's particularly ironic that the Giants receivers were the key to beating the Patriots. Or maybe it's just proper NFL evolution.

Winners

Eli Manning: He has two Super Bowls and these are not backdoor-luck wins either. The 2007 victory might've been defensively-based, but the win doesn't happen if Eli doesn't make some monster plays. On Sunday, he truly propelled himself into a rare class of quarterback; with less than four minutes to go and 88 yards to move the ball, Eli, quite simply, got it done. The receivers helped, of course, but he made huge plays.

Tom Coughlin
: Homeboy is 5-1 in his career against Belichick and has two Super Bowl wins in the last five years. Eight weeks ago? He was on the freaking hot seat. Now he's probably headed to the Hall of Fame if he can coach another three to four strong years in New York. If he wants, he can coach there forever, regardless of what ignorant and impatient fans say amid losing streaks. Two Super Bowls is the equivalent of a lifetime contract in the NFL.

Mario Manningham
: Manningham didn't make every single catch, and he wasn't as good as Hakeem Nicks on Sunday night, but he had five catches for 73 yards and none were more important than a toe-tapping 38-yard catch along the Patriots sideline late in the fourth quarter. With 3:46 left on the clock and down two points, the Giants took a shot, Manning made a big-boy throw and Manningham made an absolutely insane catch along the sidelines. Not only did it totally flip momentum and give the Giants better field position, but it forced Bill Belichick to burn a timeout to challenge the play.

NFL Honors: Awards shows are ticking timebombs stuffed with potential disaster. Which is what makes it so impressive that the NFL pulled of a polished, professional, tidy and entertaining one-hour special that managed to dole out all the big end-of-year awards in impressive fashion. The only question is: what took so long?

Indianapolis: The city of Indy isn't supposed to be a great location for a Super Bowl, but the town gets an A+ from us for their effort in Super Bowl 46. Things were a little rowdy and crowded downtown over the weekend and I could've dealt with a few less bag checks, but it's hard to give Indy other than a gargantuan round of applause for the way they set up and ran the Super Bowl. Everyone was courteous, the weather was wonderful, people running hotels and restaurants adapted to surging crowds. (Even the people in Indy got quotes to the press box faster than Dallas did.) Sunday night's game -- and absolutely thriller -- was the perfect cap to a well-run weekend.

It's a crippling Super Bowl loss for Belichick and Brady. (AP)

Losers

Tom Brady: There's not much difference between 4-1 and 3-2. It's just one game. But if Brady was 4-1 in Super Bowls, we'd be talking about him as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. Instead, some people will label Brady as "the guy who couldn't beat Eli on the big stage." Travel back in time to January of 2008 and inform someone of that information. They'll laugh at you and double down on their monster bet on the Patriots the first time these teams met up. Brady's an all-time gamer, for sure. No one can take away three Super Bowls. But it's going to be hard to win an argument where you claim he's the GOAT.

Ahmad Bradshaw: The first loser to ever score a game-winning touchdown, Bradshaw scored what might be the weirdest TD in NFL history. (See: below.) He took the handoff, started doing what he's done thousands of times in his life and ran up the middle. Only he wasn't supposed to score. He did anyway, falling into the end zone and giving Brady nearly a minute left on the clock to attempt a comeback. It would be awkward to be him if Brady had completed the Hail Mary.

Bill Belichick: Maybe it was just karma for cutting Tiquan Underwood?

Madonna: When Mrs. Brinson is texting me to tell me how boring the Super Bowl halftime show was, that's not a good thing. And look, Madonna was big time and I know a lot of people enjoyed the show, but she lip-synched most of it, played one song that no one really likes, and another that no one knows. You're not here pimping your new album. Play the stuff people want. All that was missing from that fiasco was a painting of Alex Rodriguez as a centaur.

Peyton Manning: Peyton's not a huge loser, because he gets to celebrate his brother winning a second Super Bowl. That's cool stuff. I'd be pumped if my brother won a second Super Bowl. Actually, I take that back. If I was an NFL quarterback and my brother was an NFL quarterback and he had one more Super Bowl than me, I'd be furious, and probably a little bitter. And if it so happened that I was dealing with a neck injury, I'd probably be pretty motivated to catch him.

GIF O' THE WEEK


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Posted on: February 5, 2012 8:32 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2012 8:42 pm
 

Brady breaks Montana's SB completion record

Follow all of CBSSports.com's Full Super Bowl Coverage (Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Pats were sloppy in the first half, but Tom Brady came on strong late, leading them to a 96-yard touchdown drive. He picked up right where he left off in the second half, completing his first five passes of the Patriots first drive.

But he didn't just lead the Pats to another touchdown (and a 17-9 lead), he also broke Joe Montana's Super Bowl-record of 13-straight completions. With 13:22 remaining in the third quarter, Brady hit Wes Welker for a short pass to the left that went for five yards, giving him 14 consecutive completions and breaking the Montana record.

[Thoughts on the Game? Join our live Super Bowl Chat]

Brady clearly wasn't satisfied, though, and he hit his next two passes, including a 12-yard touchdown to Aaron Hernandez. Brady was so spectacular, in fact, that he even managed to get Chad Ochocinco involved.

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Posted on: February 5, 2012 8:15 pm
 

Sloppy Pats somehow lead 10-9 at half

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By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS --  The Patriots should be absolutely beside themselves with relief right now. They weren't dominated by the Giants in the first half, per se, but they made a slew of mistakes that could've led to a lot more points for New York. Instead, a 96-yard drive -- tying a Super Bowl record -- by Tom Brady resulted in a 10-9 New England lead at the half.

The biggest mistake from the Patriots was an inexplicable Brady throw away from his own end zone that handed the Giants two points when he drew a safety. (Whether or not a receiver was supposed to be in the area remains to be seen.)

New England later recovered a Victor Cruz fumble, but it was negated by a penalty on the Patriots for having too many men on the field. Two plays later, the Giants scored.

In a game where the biggest advantages for the Patriots are supposed to come at quarterback and coach, it's unfathomable that the Patriots would make those kind of mistakes, particularly in a Super Bowl.

And yet, somehow, they're still leading at halftime. That's partially on the Giants too, of course, because they didn't convert on the chances the Pats offered. But that wasn't a Belichickian performance for most of the first half.

The good news is the Pats managed to get Rob Gronkowski involved on the final drive as well, when he caught a 20-yard pass that sparked the Patriots offense and pushed them to the 35-yard line. If Gronk's a factor at all in the passing game (he wasn't until that catch), it drastically changes the dynamic of what the Giants can do on defense.

But more importantly, the Pats need to clean up the sloppy play. If they make those same mistakes in the second half and the Giants take advantage, they second half won't have the same result as the first.

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Posted on: February 5, 2012 6:47 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2012 6:55 pm
 

Safety the first score of Super Bowl XLVI

Follow all of CBSSports.com's Full Super Bowl Coverage (Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- If you wanted a spicy start to Super Bowl XLVI, you got it, as the Giants drew first blood when a Tom Brady throw from his own end zone drew a flag, a penalty for intentional grounding and a 2-0.

For those of you scoring at home, betting on a safety as the first score in the Super Bowl was a 75:1 bet at Sportsbook.com. In other words, it's not likely to happen, but it did. (And they're saying someone won $15,000 on a $200 bet.) The only time a safety was the first score in an NFL championship, with a safety happening in Super Bowl IX as well.

[CBSSports.com Super Bowl Live Chat]

The stranger occurrence was the Patriots defense managing to wake up and get pressure on Eli Manning after the Giants quarterback looked poised to carve them up in the early going. Manning went 4/4 for 40 yards on the first drive and pushed the Giants into Pats territory.

Then he held the ball to long and Brandon Deaderick sacked him for negative-two yards. Ahmad Bradshaw was stuffed on second down and Mark Anderson came flying in to sack Eli for negative-six yards on third down.

That play resulted in a Giants punt, but Steve Weatherford stuck the ball tight near the goal line and Brady was forced to throw from his own end zone on the Patriots first play of the game.

It's a weird start to the Super Bowl, but if this is the type of spice the teams are bringing, expect lots of excitement.

Oh, and that's the second 2-0 score in a game this postseason for the Giants. Weird stuff, man.

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Posted on: February 5, 2012 5:45 pm
 

Chad Ochocinco drops several balls in warmups

Follow all of CBSSports.com's Full Super Bowl Coverage (Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- There's this pervading sense that Chad Ochocinco, who's active for Sunday's game, is going to be the dark horse hero. Based on warmups, that seems unlikely: Ocho dropped several balls that were squarely in his breadbasket.

These weren't tough to pull off passes either. Ocho got one pass from Brian Hoyer that hit both his hands and fell to the ground. Then he ran a medium out, Tom Brady pegged him squarely in the hands and the ball fell to the ground in Lucas Oil.

They were the only two balls I saw dropped during the Patriots warmup.

The wideout is currently rocking red shoes and red gloves; he's the only Patriots wide receiver or tight end who's doing so. (You can read between the lines and determine what that means within the context of how the Patriots operate.)

He also reportedly put his gold teeth back in, trying to go back to "the old Chad Johnson."

Maybe his performance in warm-ups is just another red herring from the Patriots. But that looks pretty unlikely: the only mind-games being played with Ochocinco, given the easy passes he dropped from Brady, is going on in his own head.

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Posted on: February 5, 2012 4:03 pm
 

StubHub: Super Bowl tickets down leading to game

Ticket prices are dropping faster than the zipline in Indy. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Super Bowl is the hardest ticket to get in all of sports, but two teams from major markets squaring off in Indy for Super Bowl XLVI, ticket prices are actually quite reasonable (relatively speaking) in the secondary market.

According to Stubhub, the top online secondary ticket broker, the prices for Super Bowl tickets have been steadily dropping since the Patriots and Giants clinched a spot in Indianapolis.

"Prices have been fluctuating," Joellen Ferrer of Stubhub told CBSSports.com on Friday. "As you can imagine, prices were at their height during conference championships. But since then, they're down about 20 percent. But that's typical of all events in every market. The Monday immediately following the Conference Championships prices started at $2,500 a piece and now they're actually down to about $1,800 and closer to $1,500 price point."

And the prices kept dropping throughout the weekend: as of 4:00 p.m. on the Sunday of the Super Bowl, the cheapest ticket available on Stubhub was $1,100.00. (At 3:45, that same ticket was $1,205.00, so the slope is getting steep, quickly.)

The prices for this year are much lower than last year, which is somewhat surprising. Patriots and Giants fans aren't exactly "not rabid."

"Ticket prices are about 10 percent lower than last year," Ferrer said. "Which is interesting because you've got Boston, you've got New York and you've got rabid fans. The economy's a little better but I think a couple factors play in: you've got Indianapolis, which is not exactly the easiest city to go into and it's not the destination city that, say, New Orleans or Miami could be."

Indy's done a heck of a job putting on Super Bowl XLVI, though, and Stubhub added a little bonus for anyone coming into town with a ticket purchased through their site: a party right near Lucas Oil Stadium to get ready for the Super Bowl.

"We actually rented out an ice skating academy across the field from Lucas Oil Stadium, and we've taken over two Olympic-sized ice-skating rinks and we're throwing a huge party for everyone who purchased tickets on Stubhub," "So about 5,000 people are going to walk through and pick up their tickets, because we won't ever mail that expensive of a ticket."

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Posted on: February 5, 2012 3:29 pm
 

DeMarco Murray talks Cowboys, Romo, Jason Garrett

Murray expects even more from the 'Boys in 2012. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- DeMarco Murray burst onto the scene as a potential franchise running back for the Dallas Cowboys when he shattered long-standing records with a 253-yard rushing performance against the Rams in the 2011 season. With Felix Jones injured, Murray stepped in and paced the Cowboys rushing attack until he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 13.

But Murray, who was working with Verizon to promote the first-ever mobile airing of the Super Bowl, told us on Radio Row that the Cowboys can accomplish the goals they missed with a full season in 2012.

"Definitely the playoffs and getting [to the Super Bowl] next year," Murray said. "We had a lot of young guys and  missed OTAs and minicamps. I thought a lot of guys played well. If we get a full season under our belt we look forward to winning some games."

Dallas collapse down the stretch was a full-blown disaster, with Jason Garrett notably icing his own kicker against the Cardinals before losing in overtime. But Murray said that the scapegoating of Garrett is blown out proportion by "us guys."

"Man, you guys are going to write us off no matter what," Murray said. "One week he's the greatest coach on the planet, the next week he's the worst coach on the planet. So we don't listen to that stuff you know? He's a great coach and I'm glad he's my coach."

Murray had similar feelings for quarterback Tony Romo, who's been judged once or twice in his career.

"Same thing, man!" Murray said. "One week he's a hero, the next week he's not. That's just the way it is with the Dallas Cowboys. We're used to it, we love it and we wouldn't want any one else leading our team."

Murray's correct on that count. Romo gets unfairly ripped/loved on a week-to-week basis depending on the outcome of the game.

It's presumed that Murray will be the guy taking most of the carries from Romo in 2012. However, Murray said he didn't know if he was the starter yet, and that he and Felix Jones had a "great" relationship. Additionally, Murray championed his fellow rookies, calling the 2011 NFL Draft class the greatest class of all time.

"I think it is," Murray said. "Look at all the guys in our class who made the Pro Bowl and did it without OTAs and minicamps."

If Murray can have the same impact he had in 2011 next year, it'll go even further to proving that point.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com