New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) rushes for a touchdown in front of New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo (51) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
For the past two days, it's been fun to get inside the head of Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants running back who desperately tried to stop himself from scoring the winning touchdown in Sunday's Super Bowl victory over New England, only to fail.
Bradshaw was trying to go against everything he had been trained to do: namely, to run into the end zone when you have a chance run into the end zone. He failed, and that was more than understandable. But what about the OTHER side of the ball?
The reason Bradshaw was presented with such a wide-open chance to score was, of course, because the Patriots LET him. Just as Mike Holmgren did in the Packers loss to the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII, Pats coach Bill Belichick ordered his men to allow the Giants to score so that New England would get the ball back with sufficient time left on the clock. Belichick was asking his defense to do what Bradshaw did: To go against everything they had been trained to do.
Is it easy to reverse your instincts like that? Pats linebacker Brandon Spikes says NOOOOOOOOOOO:
When the call came in to let them score, I was kind of like, ‘What? I’m here to do my job and it’s my job to play defense and let them score?’ It was tough. It definitely was tough.
Spikes isn't saying it was WRONG to do this. I've yet to find anyone who thinks Bill Belichick didn't make the right call in that moment. But Spikes is saying that, to any defender, such a strategy is fundamentally repellent. It's so utterly counter-intuitive that you have a hard time making yourself go through with it. And if you do manage to go through with it, YOU HATE EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF IT.
Even though many Pats defenders likely agreed with the strategy, I'm sure they hated Belichick in that moment for making them do it. To play defense hard for four quarters (and the Pats defense played shockingly well on Sunday), and then throw all that away at the end and GIVE the go-ahead touchdown to the other team? That's torturous, and that's what Spikes is talking about.
It's bizarre how sports can bend and twist and shape itself so that you get moments like this, moments that seem to make no sense. The offense is supposed to score. The defense is supposed to not let them score. Somehow, all that got turned around on Sunday, and Brandon Spikes would like you to know that when that happens, it's kind of horrible. I don't blame him in the slightest.