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              New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker drops a pass during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
              New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker drops a pass during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)   

Super Bowl: A tale of two catches

Super Bowl 46 was a tale of two catches – one made, one dropped – that took place within the space of three plays. The catch he dropped will haunt New England Patriots flanker Wes Welker to the end of his days. The one that New York Giants’ wide receiver Mario Manningham caught led to the Giants’ fourth Vince Lombardi Trophy, and will be almost too painful for Patriots’ fans to ever watch. Four years after Giants’ receiver David Tyree’s legendary ball-on-helmet grab led to the Giants’ scintillating victory in Super Bowl 42, the Patriots just got fatally struck by Eli Manning lightning. Again.

It was a taut game, this 21-17 affair, airless and strange and beautiful to watch for purists, a game which lacked surface melodrama but in which the outcome hung on every snap. A baseball-type football game. A novelistic game, inexorable and fatalistic, the football equivalent of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, in which any change in the late narrative would have meant a different ending – Lily Bart not dying in despair, Tom Brady riding off into the sunset with four rings. But the fates – it felt like that, anyway, but it was just players making plays – decreed otherwise. Manningham’s gorgeous snag of Manning’s perfectly-thrown 38-yard pass on the left sideline, with only a nanosecond to get his feet down and secure possession of the ball as he was slammed out of bounds, will go down as one of the most memorable catches in Super Bowl history, up there with Steeler Lynn Swann’s balletic leap in 1979 and John Taylor’s winning grab in the 49ers’ last-second victory over the Bengals. For Giants’ fans, it will forever be Catch 2.

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