When Tom Brady slung a perfect fourteen yard pass to Rob Gronkowski (redeeming himself after a pair of drops on the previous two plays) in the middle of the endzone to give New England a 20-17 lead with just over a minute and a half remaining in Sunday's brawl (every time you turned around someone was fighting) between the Patriots and Giants, it looked like another classic Brady comeback was complete. All the Pats had to do was hold off Eli Manning who, contrary to his own belief, is not now and never will be an elite quarterback, and his boys for another 96 seconds, and the win was theirs.
But that task proved too difficult for the much maligned Patriot D to handle as they helped New York, minus their top rusher Ahmad Bradshaw and leading receiver Hakeem Nicks, move 80 yards on eight plays with a devastating pass interference call against Sergio Brown. Manning made a few nice passes (and his fear of the sack led to more than a couple ugly heaves off his back foot), but managed to come through with a touchdown pass to Jake Ballard with fifteen seconds left that secured a four point Giants victory, their sixth in seven games. New England, meanwhile, has lost consecutive games for just the third time since the beginning of the 2003 season.
It was a weird game; no one scored, at all, in the first half, as series after series stalled and ended in punts. Gostkowski uncharacteristically shanked a 27-yarder with three seconds left in the first half, and New England's high powered offense, suffering through its third straight subpar performance, was so incapable that the Gillette crowd showered them with boos after a Brady incompletion in the third quarter. Both offenses finally got on track after that, but it ended up being too little, too late for the home team.
Brady, sacked and picked off twice, was not his sharpest in this one but still put together a solid performance, throwing a pair of TDs while notching 342 yards on 28/49 passing. Manning also got two touchdowns of his own and went 20/39 for 250 yards. After a couple down weeks Wes Welker returned to form, racking up 136 receiving yards on nine catches, while Gronkowski snagged the aforementioned six pointer and finished the day with 101 yards on eight receptions.
The Patriots, now 5-3, will play New York again in Week 10 when they head to MetLife Stadium to battle the Jets, also 5-3, on Sunday night.