A last-minute go-ahead touchdown has never been greeted with so much indecision and anxiety. Ahmad Bradshaw himself was unsure whether he should have crossed the goal line to give the New York Giants a 21-17 lead over the New England Patriots.
The Giants running back hesitated at the one-yard line before awkwardly falling into the end zone with 57 seconds left in Super Bowl XLVI, apparently unsure of whether scoring a touchdown or falling short of the goal line was the better play for New York's chances to win the game.
New England had no such internal debate. The Patriots intended to let Bradshaw score the touchdown. As Tom Brady said after the game, "It's much better to have a chance."
In theory, falling was the better play. Because the Patriots only had one timeout left, the Giants could have run the clock down to under 15 seconds and attempted a chip-shot field goal that would have given them an 18-17 lead. Given the time it would have taken for the kick to go through the uprights and the requisite squib kick that would have followed, Tom Brady and the Patriots would have been left with time for one play.
That would have meant that Brady wouldn't have had time to get New England to their own 49-yard line and wouldn't have been able to throw the hail mary that fell just out of the grasp of Rob Gronkowski.
Bradshaw seemed to realize this. His hesitation showed his lack of commitment to the score. It was almost as if he couldn't stop himself. And can you blame him? Everyone who has ever suited up in a football uniform has dreamed of giving his team the lead in the Super Bowl. Bradshaw had a wide open field on which to run and glory in his sights.
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Instant comparisons were made to Brian Westbrook's play at the end of a Philadelphia Eagles game in 2007. In that game, Westbrook fell to preserve an Eagles victory and was praised for his heady play. There was one key difference in that situation: Philly already had the lead in that game.
For Bradshaw and the Giants, him crossing the goal line gave them the go-ahead score. To depend on a field goal, however close it may have been, was bringing the possibility of no points into the equation.
Whether or not you think it was the right play, history will be kind to Bradshaw. It all worked out. Being wrong has never been so right.
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