The New England Patriots came within one play of completing a miraculous comeback to force overtime in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Denver Broncos.
According to ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck, Tom Brady is to blame for New England falling just short.
Brady teamed up with Rob Gronkowski for a miracle sequence that brought the Patriots to within two points of Denver with 12 seconds remaining. But New England had to convert a two-point conversion to tie, and Aqib Talib broke up Brady’s pass intended for Julian Edelman to seal the Patriots’ fate.
During a Monday appearance on WEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan” radio show, Hasselbeck said a poor read by Brady cost the Patriots a chance to go to overtime.
“It’s a spot route,” Hasselbeck, a former NFL quarterback, said, via WEEI.com. “It’s a 100 percent error by the quarterback on the two-point play. Not even debatable.
“You flash the corner to the spot. You’re trying to run some traffic to out-leverage the defense. Denver, I think, (messed up), because they end up doubling the flat. That’s the last thing you want to do, is double the flat. But they’re afraid to get out-leveraged so they both run after him. You then have inside leverage, with (Shiloh) Keo on Rob Gronkowski.”
Another look at the play shows Gronkowski was pretty wide open, and the right read for Brady would have been to lead his tight end into open space rather than force a pass into tight coverage.
“Gronk is the No. 2 guy in the progression,” Hasselbeck said. “It goes flat, corner, spot. For whatever reason, Brady just skips him. He skips him. It’s an easy throw to Gronkowski and the game is tied. It’s inexcusable at that point.”
Hindsight, of course, is 20/20, and we’d imagine Brady would love to have that play back after watching film. Hasselbeck did add that he doesn’t think the Patriots QB withered under pressure.
“Now, listen, I don’t think he choked,” Hasselbeck said. “I just think that if it were (Broncos quarterback) Peyton Manning who had the type of game that Brady had, you guys would be talking about him choking.”
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images