FOXBORO -- Kyle Arrington almost had a fantastic night.
The Giants were up 10-3 in the third quarter's final two minutes and poised, quivering on the New England 5. Quarterback Eli Manning looked into the end zone and saw Mario Manningham. He launched the ball.
Picked by Arrington.
The interception saved New England at least three points. When Tom Brady and the offense returned Arrington's favor with a touchdown and extra point, the pick turned into a game-tying 10-point swing. And this was his second point-shaving play. At the beginning of the quarter he got a finger on a slant thrown to Victor Cruz on a third-and-3 from the Patriots 4. The ball fell incomplete; New York settled for a field goal.
Seven points saved.
But it's the seven lost -- and 35-yards -- that'll be remembered by most.
Arrington was hit with a huge pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter. Manning was working a first-and-10 on the Giants 25 when he found Manningham running deep along the left sideline. Instead of turning to make a play on the ball, Arrington stayed facing the receiver and got his hands on Manningham. In a flash -- with one whistle -- New York moved up to New England's 40. The Giants got seven, the lead, and an enormous shift in momentum.
New England lost 24-20. In the locker room, Arrington appeared exhausted.
"Receiver had a step on me so I'm trying to make up ground on the thrown ball," he recalled. "Could have played it better or... I don't know. I have to see the film. I didn't think... It doesn't matter what I think. They called it."
He bit his tongue on debating the penalty. The urge to claim innocence is instinctual, but, to Arrington, also pointless. It was a moment of the irrevocable -- as impossible to change as it is to forget. Fellow cornerback and defensive captain Devin McCourty said he understands the frustration.
"It's probably the toughest play. A guy goes deep and, not many guys in the league are slow so, you really have to start running. As he stops and adjusts to the ball, sometimes, like I said to Kyle, those underthrows are the toughest to defend.
"Sometimes you're able to get your head around, sometimes you have to play his hands. Each situation is different and that pass interference call is going to go either way. As a defender it's tough; sometimes the ref sees it as pass interference, sometimes it's a no-call. You've just got to continue to play and try to get it out of there."
The Patriots defense unraveled.
Though Arrington wasn't alone in making mistakes, things continued to trend downward after his penalty. His disappointment after the game was different from that of his teammates; it was like the fall from interception to pass interference knocked the life out of him. Worse, he's part of a secondary beleaguered by doubt in the first place, so instead of coming up a hero, it's like he failed like the statistics said they would.
That's how it will be recalled, anyway.
Arrington says he has to learn and move on. There can be as much dwelling on the bad as there is the good: zero. It's the only way to survive.
"It's the National Football League; playing corner in this business, you have to have a short memory."