NEW YORK — The Patriots got exactly what they wanted when the Giants threw to Mario Manningham on New York’s last Super Bowl drive.
Then the receiver New England deemed less dangerous than Victor Cruz or Hakeem Nicks made a catch that will be replayed over and over for years to come.
“This is still a Cruz and Nicks game,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick tells his defenders in audio captured for “Sound FX,” which first aired Wednesday night on NFL Network. “I know we’re right on them; it’s tight. But those are still the guys. Make them go to Manningham; make them go to (tight end Bear) Pascoe. Let’s make sure we get Cruz and Nicks.”
Manningham’s 38-yard reception — over-the-shoulder, between two defenders and along the sideline — was the key play on the Giants’ winning drive. New England challenged the catch, but as the video review is going on, a dejected Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is heard muttering, “He caught it.”
Cruz had 82 catches for 1,536 yards this season, while Nicks had 76 receptions for 1,192 yards. Manningham caught 39 passes for 523 yards and was slowed by injuries.
With New York in position to run down the clock and kick the winning field goal later in the drive, New England linebacker Jerod Mayo tells his fellow defenders in the huddle, “We’ve got to let ’em score.” Tackle Vince Wilfork then assures a teammate as the players are lining up, “Yeah, yeah, let ’em score.”
But on the sideline, Brady laments, “They’re not going to score.”
He was wrong. Ahmad Bradshaw fell into the end zone after trying to stop himself, putting the Giants up 21-17 with 57 seconds left. With one timeout and needing a touchdown, Brady couldn’t lead the Patriots on a winning drive.
”Sound FX” replays will air on NFL Network on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.