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The thin margin

Fate of two passes in Super Bowl leads to overreactions

One pass got dropped, and another got caught.

Wes Welker, open with a chance to enhance his New England Patriots’ chances of a fourth Super Bowl title (if not clinch it), could not come up with the ball.

Seconds later, Mario Manningham, double-covered, snagged the ball and got his feet down before going out of bounds, and the Giants were on their way to another ring.

For all the other goings-on in Super Bowl XLVI, it ultimately turned on those two plays – a makeable catch squandered, a difficult catch attained.

And by those razor-thin measures, we not only crown champions, but also proclaim or declaim teams, coaches, quarterbacks, entire legacies. A man’s career – heck, his whole life – ends up defined by that single moment.

So Welker, who caught more passes than anyone in the NFL the last five years, is now scarred, and Manningham, like David Tyree before him, need not do another thing in football. Tyree never caught another pass in the NFL after his helmet masterpiece in the Arizona desert. He didn’t have to – his mark in history was safe and permanent.

Just the same, the aftermath has been quite telling. Now Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin are legendary, elite, Canton-bound greats. Now Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are taken to task, as if the three Super Bowls they did win were irrelevant or immaterial.

All because one pass got dropped, and another got caught.

And it goes further, of course. The aftermath gave us yet another reminder of how singularly obnoxious New York and Boston sports can get.

They take it way, way too seriously in these parts. Combine that with a voracious media culture and a false sense of entitlement and self-importance, and the New York-Boston axis can drown out the rest of American sports. Heaven help us if the Rangers and Bruins get together on the ice in the spring, or if two certain (very rich) baseball clubs have another October encounter.

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