We all know that hindsight is 20/20.
Nonetheless, the question of, “Should Amhad Bradshaw have scored or not?” in response to his go-ahead touchdown in final minute of Super Bowl XLVI is still being debated on websites and media outlets across the country.
Down by 2 points with his Giants on the Patriots’ 6 yard line, Bradshaw took the hand-off from Eli Manning and, as the field parted like the red sea, he briefly stopped at the goal line, as if to ask himself whether or not he should take the easy score. However, his momentum carried him into the end-zone, giving the Giants a four point lead with a minute remaining in the game. History has shown us that giving Tom Brady the ball back with less than a minute and two timeouts isn’t usually a good idea, and the debate immediately began: Should he have scored, or should he have fallen shy of the goal line?
I admit; as I was watching the game myself, my immediate reaction was that Bradshaw should have burned more clock, essentially sealing what would likely have been the “automatic” game-winning, 19 yard field goal.
The problem with that is this:
Nothing in football is automatic.
Yes, I am aware of the stats; I know that there have been just 7 missed extra points in 1,201 attempts this season (99.4%), and that this was shorter even than that. I also know that Giants’ kicker Lawrence Tynes is perfect on kicks inside 30 yards this year. I know that arguably the greatest mind in football today understood that it was best for his team to allow the score.
I even read the post on Deadspin that claims the following:
“Using Win Probability (a simple estimate of who’s going to win based on score and other variables), we know that if Bradshaw been able to stop his momentum and fall prior to scoring, the Giants would have had a 0.98 WP—in other words, a 98 percent chance of winning.”
Ok. I get all of that, but forget the numbers.
I have watched enough football in my lifetime to understand that there are far too many things that can go wrong to pass up an easy score, especially when that score is the go-ahead touchdown on the biggest stage in professional football.
Bradshaw had to score there, because in the game of football, there are far too many things that can go wrong—even when it seems like they won’t.
Just ask Tony Romo, who fumbled the snap on an “automatic” field goal against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2007 playoffs, resulting in a scramble that ended shy of the end-zone and a Cowboy loss. Ask Billy Cundiff, who just two weeks ago, missed a 32 yard chip shot that would have sent the Ravens and Patriots into overtime.
Again, nothing in sports is automatic. Mistakes happen, and points aren’t always as easy to come by as one would believe.
As difficult as it would have been for the Giants to watch the Patriots score in the end, how much worse would it have been if Bradshaw had not scored, and the Giants fumbled the snap, or missed the field goal, or had the field goal blocked?
Bradshaw did the right thing, whether he meant to or not, in taking the points, and hoping that his defense would stop New England.
Luckily for Bradshaw and his teammates, the Giants’ defense did exactly that.