Drew Magary writes sports commentary for Deadspin, Maxim, GQ and is the author of "The Postmortal."
Fifty years from now, they'll still be playing pristine NFL Films footage of Ahmad Bradshaw scoring the least-wanted game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl history, and the play will continue to be utterly riveting.
There's never been a clearer instance of a man trying -- and failing -- to do something that goes against his very nature. It was one of the most sympathetic moments of any Super Bowl. In that moment, we witnessed the torturous indecisiveness that comes with being asked NOT to score. That's when you see a human being at his most genuine. Bradshaw may as well have run that play naked, he was so exposed.
Obviously, Bradshaw's inadvertent touchdown gave Tom Brady a chance to drive down the field with fifty-seven seconds left and one timeout to burn. If Brady had managed to pull off that historic TD drive, Bradshaw would have been a goat forever. But Brady didn't even come close, and so it begs the question: Was scoring on that play the RIGHT thing to do?
Consider what would have happened if the Giants had decided to milk the clock, force the Pats to burn that last timeout, and then kicked a field goal.
First of all, that assumes that the field goal would have gone over just fine, and Billy Cundiff can tell you that isn't always the case. You can have a bad snap. You can have a bad hold. You can have your kick blocked. Many, many bad things can happen. The chances are low, but still readily apparent.
Now, if Bradshaw kneels at the one yard line, and Eli takes a knee on the next snap to burn 40 seconds, and the Giants make the field goal, that's about 12 seconds left on the clock for Brady to work with. But he doesn't have to score. All he needs is a field goal. For a field goal to happen, you need ONE long pass completed downfield (in the Pats' case, out of bounds), and then the kick. That's it.
Now, Deadspin has already noted that Bradshaw's TD, with 57 seconds on the clock, reduced the Giants winning percentage. HOWEVAH, I'd like to counter all that mathiness by pointing out that Brady has engineered two game-winning field goal drives in the Super Bowl. So perhaps it's a better idea to make him play for the touchdown rather than let him get off a cheap pass (like, say, to Wes Welker, who had plenty of room to run on that pass he dropped) and the steal the win.
In either case, the Pats were in a low percentage situation. They were unlikely to pull the game out either way. The stats tell us that Bradshaw made the wrong play yesterday, and did so in a touching fashion. But there's something to be said for making Tom Brady drive down the entire field with a depleted receiving corps and barely any time left. He failed, and Bradshaw can feel vindicated this morning.