Welker Drop or Brady Misfire? You decide…

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Immediately after the New York Giants come-from-behind victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, debate swirled not on another 4th quarter comeback by the most clutch quarterback in the NFL or on the Tyree-esque sideline catch by Mario Manningham… but on a play which arguably could have sealed the game for New England.

On 2nd and 11 with New England clinging to a 2-point lead with 4:06 left to play, Brady – recognizing a blown coverage by the Giants – threw slightly high and behind Welker, who was able to get his hands on the ball but couldn’t pull it in.

Welker was near the New York 20 – had he and Brady made a connection, the Patriots would have been close to putting the game away. With Eli’s 2011 comeback acumen, the game was far from over – even after a catch by Welker and a first down.

So whose fault was it?

Many Brady-bashers have claimed it was a poor throw to a wide open Welker because Brady didn’t hit Welker in stride, on the numbers. I don’t see it that way.

In fact, the first thing I thought of when I looked back at the play was that Brady had made a similar throw to David Patten in Super Bowl XXXVI. Patten had to make the same play on the ball as Welker had on his dropped pass.

I would argue the Patten catch had a higher degree of difficulty due to the coverage on the play, coupled with the play being made so close to the sidelines. Brady’s pass was viewed as a ball which only Patten could catch, and he was lauded for having “veteran savvy” for throwing such a pass on football’s biggest stage.

*Watch from 4:31 on (unless you want to see other sweet David Patten highlights from the early 2000’s)

Did Brady make a perfect throw to Welker?

No, but it’s rare to always make the “perfect throw” to receivers (see Manning, Eli to Manningham, Mario), considering the Giants’ defensive line had done their best Karch Kiraly impression on Brady passes all night.

Was it a safe throw which allowed Welker to make a high percentage play on the ball?

Absolutely. Any time you are able to get both of your mitts on a pass and you’re paid millions of dollars (in Welker’s case, soon-to-be tens of millions) to catch passes, you catch that pass.

Pass catchers are taught to make a “diamond” with their thumbs and index fingers as a pass approaches. At 0:37 of the Welker video, you see that he has perfect pass-catching form on the ball and the ball hits the “diamond” like a bullseye – he just dropped the ball.

Simply put, Welker makes that catch, as Cris Collinsworth said at the time, “100 times out of 100”. It was a tough play for New England fans to swallow, but it hardly sealed the Patriots fate in Super Bowl XLVI.

Patten’s catch in Super Bowl XXXVI lives on as one of the most clutch catches in one of the most memorable games in Super Bowl history.

Unfortunately for Wes Welker, one of the greatest slot receivers to ever play football, his drop will also live on — under a very different light.

Photo courtesy of bleacherreport.com

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7 Responses to “Welker Drop or Brady Misfire? You decide…”

  1. Jeff Gehring Says:

    You make a great point in that Wes did have his hands in position to catch the ball and the throw was not perfect. The play is also similar to Pattens catch. Two major differences Wes was running faster with more forward momentum as he jumped, Patten was positioning himself in the corner of the end zone and had slowed up slightly allowing his jump to be more vertical with less forward momentum. It is slight difference, but enough to make a difference in the outcome. It is a game of inches.
    Secondly just because Wes made contact with the ball does not mean it is a drop. He had completely extended himself just to make contact with the ball. His jump and moment were to the limits of what his body can do which makes doing anything at that point nearly impossible. Any athlete knows that you can lose your form when extending yourself beyond your limits.

    • jbakes75 Says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Jeff – I agree with you, re: Patten slowing up vs Welker going full speed, although it does appear that Welker lets up just a bit before he goes up for the ball… however, I still believe Welker had every opportunity to make that catch. While he may have extended himself speed-wise, I don’t agree that he was max extended with his reach as the ball hit both palms of his hands. If it was a fingertip attempt, that’s one thing… but that ball hit him square in the meat of his hands.

  2. Graham Says:

    Blake Griffin has a song written about him. Nuff said.

  3. JM Says:

    Wes Welker meet Jackie Smith, the game, the season and the Super Bowl was on you for a huge drop.

  4. Trev Says:

    Jackie Smith…I was wondering when someone was gonna connect the dots.

  5. Mojah Fukweh Says:

    I agree with the fingertips vs palms comment, Welker definitely had it, but these things happen in sports.

  6. Caden Says:

    I was so confused about what to buy, but this makes it undtesrandable.

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