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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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