INDIANAPOLIS - The man who presented the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday -- Hall of Fame receiver Raymond Berry -- believed that if a receiver could touch a ball, he should be able to catch it.If Wes Welker -- a player who will one day merit HOF consideration -- had caught a critical pass from Tom Brady late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLVI instead of having it glance off his hands, Berry might have been handing the Lombardi to the Patriots. Welker's drop of a high but catchable Tom Brady pass with four minutes left would have put the Patriots in field-goal range and allowed them to bleed the clock down on the New York Giants. Instead, the Patriots wound up having to punt and the Giants made history against New England. Again. Welker was disconsolate after the game. "It's one of those plays I've made a thousand times. Just didn't make it," said an emotional Welker. "The ball is right there. I've just got to make the play. It's a play I've made a thousand times in practice and everything else. It comes to the biggest moment of my life and I don't come up with it. It's discouraging."Asked if he felt solely responsible for the loss, Welker said, "Yeah. It hit me right in the hands. I mean, it's a play I never drop, I always make. Most critical situation and I let the team down."Brady explained the play thusly: "Wes was running down the field and it looked like they messed the coverage up a little bit and I threw it to him. He went up to try and make it as he always does and we just couldn't connect. He's a helluva player. I'll keep throwing the ball to him for as long as I possibly can. He's a phenomenal player and teammate and I love that guy."Welker is going to need a lot of support because the scapegoating has begun in earnest. In a minor moment of frustration that will gain huge traction, Brady's wife Gisele Bundchen reportedly said to taunting Giants fans at Lucas Oil Stadium, "My husband can not bleeping throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can't believe they dropped the ball so many times."It wasn't a perfect throw to Welker. But the ball was extremely catchable for a player of Welker's ability. "I think he was a little worried about the safety so he threw it a little wider or whatever, but I mean it's right there. It hits me right in the hands. It's one I'll have to live with," Welker said."That play wasn't the end of the game," said Deion Branch. "There was so much stuff that went down throughout the third and fourth quarters. All of the plays were big, every play is important. Had I made the catch that was behind me (on the play after Welker's drop), that could have been a key third down but we didn't connect on it."Welker will be a free agent within a month if the Patriots don't opt to use the franchise tag on him. They are expected to. But Welker's drop -- like the interception that slipped through Asante Samuel's hands in SB42 that owner Robert Kraft still laments -- makes the negotiations for a deal that Welker's representatives want to be off the charts a little harder.
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – For most of his life, basketball has come easy to James Young.
So, the idea that in training camp he wasn’t just fighting to get playing time but also to stay in the NBA, was a jarring eye-opener.
To Young’s credit, he rose to the challenge and beat out R.J. Hunter for the Celtics' final roster spot.
And while Young’s playing time has been sporadic, he has done a much better job of maximizing his opportunities.
So, as the Celtics roll into Detroit to face the Pistons, Young finds himself playing his best basketball as a pro, good enough to make coach Brad Stevens not hesitate to put him in the game in the fourth quarter of a close matchup.
“It’s exciting to come back home,” Young, who grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., told CSNNE.com. “A lot of my family will be there. I’m not thinking about me. I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team.”
And lately, he’s getting an opportunity to do just that beyond being someone who helps in practice.
We saw that in the 107-97 loss at Toronto on Friday. Young came off the bench to play four minutes, 36 seconds in the fourth quarter with only two other Celtics reserves, Marcus Smart (8:39) and Jonas Jerebko (5:10) seeing more action down the stretch.
“It means a lot,” Young said. “He’s starting to trust me a little bit more. That’s a good thing. I’m just trying to do little things; rebound, get defensive stops and score when I get a chance.”
The fact that his scoring is just starting to take shape helps shed some light on why he has been buried so deep on the Celtics bench.
For his first couple seasons, Young seemed a hesitant shooter physically overwhelmed by opponents too strong for him to defend as well as too physical for him to limit their effectiveness.
But this season, he has done a better job at holding his own as a defender while making himself an available scoring option who can play off his teammates.
Young is averaging just 2.9 points per game this season, but he’s shooting a career-high 48.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent on 3’s, which is also a career-high.
Getting on the floor more often has in many ways provided yet another boost of confidence to Young.
“I’m getting used to the flow of the game playing more consistently,” Young said. “I know what to do. It’s slowing up a little more and it’s getting easier.”
Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.
More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."
“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.
Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice.
"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.
Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.
"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."