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James Ihedigbo: Patriots can’t blame Wes Welker for loss

02.06.12 at 4:45 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots arrived Monday at Gillette Stadium and promptly left, though defensive backs Antwuan Molden and James Ihedigbo were available to the media Monday afternoon.

Much has been made about Wes Welker‘s drop with the Patriots leading and use over four minutes to go in the Super Bowl. Even Tom Brady‘s wife, Gisele Bundchen, ripped the team’s receivers for not being able to hold onto passes. While many likely have that line of thinking, Ihedibgo said none of the Patriots do.

“You can never point fingers at anyone,” Ihedigbo said. “You look at the plays that [Welker]’s made all year long to put us in this position an dhow he played that game, how hard he prepared that game, and across the board. Look, we wanted it just as bad as they did. They just made some key plays there at the end and came out on top, so hats off to them.”

Added Ihedigbo: “You win as a team. You win and lose as a team. We lost to a good football team.”

Ihedigbo just wrapped up his first season as a Patriot. A native of Northampton and a graduate of UMass, the local product said that the 21-17 loss didn’t take any time to sink in.

“It hit us last night,” Ihedigbo said. “It’s a tough loss against a very good opponent. They made some plays there and put them in position to win the game, and they did that.”

While the loss was disheartening for the Pats, Ihedigbo said that the experience of playing the Super Bowl and coming so close to winning has only increased the team’s desire to win.

Said Ihedigbo: “God willing, we can get back, but it definitely makes have that hunger and desire to get back and really bring the Lombardi trophy where it belongs.”

Read More: Wes Welker,

Bill Belichick confirms Josh McDaniels will succeed Bill O’Brien as Patriots offensive coordinator

02.06.12 at 4:07 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday at Gillette Stadium that Josh McDaniels will succeed Bill O’Brien as the team’s offensive coordinator. McDaniels, who held the position with the Patriots from 2006-2008, and after stops in Denver and St. Louis, was brought back as an offensive assistant prior to the playoffs, as the Rams did not intend to keep him.

“Josh,” Belichick said when asked about the position.

O’Brien was hired last month as head coach at Penn State. He had been with the Patriots since 2007.

Now 35, McDaniels first came to the Patriots in 2001 as a personnel assistant. He left following the 2008 season to become the head coach of the Broncos, but was fired midway through his second season on the job. He became the Rams’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach last season.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Josh McDaniels,

Giants linebacker proposes on field after Super Bowl win

02.06.12 at 1:33 pm ET
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Giants rookie linebacker Greg Jones proposed to his girlfriend, former Michigan State basketball player Mandy Piechowski, on the field after his team’s victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI Sunday night.

The Star-Ledger caught up with Jones for the romantic story.

“She was bawling,” Jones said of his fiancee’s reaction. “I was like, ‘I don’t know how long she’s going to keep crying.’ ”

During the game, Jones entrusted the engagement ring to teammate Christian Hopkins, a member of the practice squad. Jones said he would have delayed the proposal had the Giants lost.

Read More: Greg Jones, Super Bowl,

Vegas installs Patriots at 7/1 to win Super Bowl XLVII

02.06.12 at 1:24 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Vegas never stops.

The day after the Patriots suffered a 21-17 loss in Super Bowl XLVI to the Giants, Bovada.lv released their odds for the 2013 Super Bowl, and New England is second on the list at 7/1, trailing only Green Bay, which sits at 6/1. New Orleans is third at 8/1, while Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Houston are all 12/1.

Bovada also released an interesting series of odds on where Peyton Manning will be for Week One of the 2013 regular season. Arizona is the early favorite at 2/1, while Washington is second at 5/2 and Miami is third at 3/1. The New York Jets are 7/2 (fourth), while Indianapolis is at 7/1, fifth overall.

Read More: Peyton Manning,

The day after, Tom Coughlin marvels at the consistently close games between the Patriots and Giants

02.06.12 at 1:03 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Giants coach Tom Coughlin got a little sleep Sunday night.

‘€œAbout 15 minutes,’€ he said happily at a Monday morning press conference, less than 12 hours after his team beat the Patriots 21-17 to capture Super Bowl XLVI.

While some of the Giants rankled New England with some of their pregame predictions, Coughlin was extremely gracious in victory on Monday, marveling at the consistently close games the Patriots and Giants have played over the last few years.

‘€œThe games are highly competitive. Very, very skilled teams. Outstanding quarterbacks on both teams. Great defense, to be honest with you,’€ Coughlin said. ‘€œThe numbers that you look at throughout the course of the year, the New York Giant and New England Patriot defensive teams that didn’€™t have the numbers, weren’€™t ranked in the upper echelon of the defensive teams in the league, but how both (defenses) have played in the playoffs, and how we played since the Jet game ‘€“ just exceptional defensive play.

‘€œJust highly competitive, highly physical football games that are designed, and established, and work out exactly the way you would want. They are fourth-quarter wins, and both teams are playing exceptionally hard. The New England coaching staff, Bill Belichick, a friend of mine, a guy that I admired for many years, a true Hall-of-Famer, a great football coach. The games are so competitive and so close, and we’€™re just fortunate to have made the necessary plays late in the game to win.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin,

National media reflects on what won, lost Super Bowl XLVI

02.06.12 at 12:18 pm ET
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In the immediate aftermath of the Giants‘ 21-17 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI Sunday night, several major national publications and outlets tried to dissect and figure out what happened at Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as the long-lasting effects of this game moving forward.

Sports Illustrated senior NFL writer Peter King, in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback piece, wrote that there is no quarterback he would rather have in the final two minutes with the game on the line than Eli Manning.

Wrote King: I still can’t get over that throw from Eli Manning to Mario Manningham. As much as I respect the catch (it will be the greatest of Manningham’s career, no matter how long he plays), I am in awe of the throw. How did Manning make that throw? Why make that throw? Why did he pick the target of the guy with a corner in coverage and a safety flying over to crush Manningham? The 38-yard throw — which began an 88-yard, Super Bowl-winning touchdown drive that Bill Belichick will see in his nightmares — is just one more reason to never, ever question how good Eli Manning is. He will have some crappy games the rest of his career, because two or three times a year he stinks. But I ask you: What quarterback alive do you want with the ball in his hands in the last two minutes of a big game?

Thought so. Eli Manning.

Despite the three Super Bowl rings and the five Super Bowl appearances that Belichick and Tom Brady have amassed in their time together, Mike Freeman of CBS Sports feels that the legacies of both men will suffer as a result of the Patriots’ second loss to the Giants in a Super Bowl.

Wrote Freeman: This was both Brady’s finest moment and his worst. The same could be said for Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Both are among the best in history. Both have forgotten more about their craft than most will ever know but there is no question about the following: their impressive legacies take a hit. A pretty good sized one, too.

There are some already reassessing the Patriots legacy. Noting that the Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since the Spygate scandal, Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison tweeted just minutes after the game: “Told you, cheaters never win!!!!!!!!!”

Brady has been beaten twice now by Eli Manning in the biggest of spots and Belichick has lost to Coughlin the same. That’s not great for legacies. That’s what you call rebuttal material.

With otherwise sterling legacies and reputations now under question, some observers, like Bill Reiter of Fox Sports, wonders whether Sunday night’s loss may have signaled the end of the Patriots’ run as title contenders.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, boomer esiason, Eli Manning, James Harrison

New York media basks in Giants Super Bowl victory

02.06.12 at 11:26 am ET
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With the Giants completing their full transformation from 7-7 and on life support Dec. 17 to Super Bowl champions Sunday night, the New York media reflected on what the game meant for the teams and players involved in the win.

For several New York writers, individual legacies were forged last night, at least for the Giants.

Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post writes that, now with his second career Super Bowl notched, Giants coach Tom Coughlin should now be a lock for the Hall of Fame.

Wrote Vaccaro: He’€™s been up and down and over and out, time and again, yet now, after this, after these two improbable championships, there is little question that whenever Coughlin decides he is done ‘€” and that will be entirely his decision now, make no mistake ‘€” he will take the passing lane to Canton, to the Hall of Fame, to a bronze bust and immortality. In so many ways, this was the season he came as close as he ever has to channeling his hero, John Wooden, the old UCLA basketball coach. As late as Saturday night, gathering his team for one last meeting, Coughlin preached an old football psalm.

One last time, he told them, ‘€œChampionships are won by teams who love one another. Just like this team does.’€

Continuing with the praise for Coughlin, Hank Gola of the New York Daily News feels that Coughlin and the Giants coaching staff, for a second time in two Super Bowls, managed to outcoach Bill Belichick and the Patriots staff.

Wrote Gola: Bill Belichick played rope a dope Sunday, nearly sending another game plan to the Hall of Fame. But all it took was for Eli Manning and Mario Manningham to land one late punch, an example of that perseverance that carried the Giants to another Super Bowl championship.

‘€œThey were going to play it very conservatively defensively,’€ offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said after watching another game-winning drive. ‘€œThey were going to see if we had the patience and discipline to throw the ball underneath and run quite frankly, we had some chances but we shot ourselves in the foot. We thought if we could stay close, we’€™ve been very good in the fourth quarter.’€

After causing a stir in the postgame Sunday night by declaring that the Giants “decapitated” the Patriots, Brandon Jacobs made another bold proclamation when he said that Manning, now with his second career Super Bowl victory, is the best quarterback in the NFL in an article by Steve Serby of the Post.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Jacobs, Eli Manning, Kevin Gilbride

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