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Hands betray Welker at worst time

Wes Welker of the New England Patriots drops

Wes Welker of the New England Patriots drops a pass in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI. (Feb. 5, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS -- Wes Welker won't soon forget the one that got away.

The Patriots wide receiver had a key drop, one that ultimately might have cost the Patriots a shot at winning Super Bowl XLVI. Welker failed to come up with a wide-open grab on New England's second-to-last drive of the game, a critical missed opportunity that he was still fuming about after their 21-17 loss Sunday night.

"A play I've made a thousand times in practice," Welker said. " . . . [Then] comes to the biggest moment of my life, and I don't come up with it."

With the Patriots leading 17-15 and 4:06 left, on second-and-11 at the Giants' 44, Welker motored down the seam and got open behind busted coverage in the Giants' secondary. He leaped for the ball at the Giants' 22 and it bounced off his hands.

"I think they got a little mixed up," Welker said of the coverage. "I think the man over me was playing a high look and then the safety went to one high. That's why it opened up for me when it did.

"It's one that will take a while to shake off, that's for sure."

Welker, who caught 122 passes for 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season, had seven catches for 60 yards Sunday night.

Welker's drop wasn't the only play the Patriots missed in the fourth quarter. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who played through a high ankle sprain, had a play he'll probably think about a lot.

Early in the quarter, on a long pass intended for Gronkowski that Tom Brady hurled to the Giants' 8, linebacker Chase Blackburn jumped in front of the tight end for the interception, preventing a big play that could have helped seize momentum.

"It was a ball up in the air," Gronkowski said, "and the linebacker did a good job getting position and making a play."

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