For Bill Belichick, the death knell in the Patriots' almost-perfect season (18-1) sounded as soon as Tom Brady's last-gasp pass to Randy Moss fell incomplete and the Giants took over with a second left in Super Bowl XLII.
Belichick didn't stick around for the final second, charging across the field to shake hands with Giants coach Tom Coughlin, then heading for the locker room before the confetti fell on the University of Phoenix field, signaling that the Patriots' perfect season had been torn to shreds.
Yesterday, Belichick elaborated on why he left the field before the final whistle of the 17-14 loss.
"Basically, on that last play I wasn't really sure of the time," said Belichick. "Everybody started on to the field and then I got over there and I wanted to congratulate Tom. I wanted to get over there and congratulate him and tell him that - congratulate him on the championship. There really wasn't much left at that point."
Coughlin's comments in USA Today seemed to back up Belichick's version of his early exit.
"I didn't attach anything to it," Coughlin told the paper. "He came over and said some nice things. Chances are, at the end of the game he wouldn't have made it over."
Meeting of mindsWhile there is still no date set for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to sit down with Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter to discuss the NFL's handling of its investigation into the Patriots' illegal videotaping practices, the sides appear close to a meeting. An ESPN.com report cited a spokesperson for Specter as saying the sides were working to finalize a meeting early next week, and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello responded to that by saying, "I would agree with the characterization that things are in the process of being finalized." However, Aiello could not confirm that a meeting would be scheduled for next week.
Future stockThe Patriots signed four players to future contracts: guard Dan Connolly, wide receiver C.J. Jones, cornerback Tim Mixon, and offensive lineman Jimmy Martin. Jones, Mixon, and Connolly ended the season as members of the Patriots practice squad. Martin spent the 2007 season out of football after he was released by the Vikings in the final preseason cut. The 6-foot-5-inch, 306-pound lineman out of Virginia Tech originally was drafted in the seventh round by San Diego in 2006. After being cut by the Chargers, he spent three two-week stints on the Vikings practice squad in 2006.
Words failed themPatriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs said everyone, including Belichick, was at a virtual loss for words after Super Bowl XLII. "He didn't know what to say. None of us knew what to say. It was disheartening," said Hobbs. "There was nothing as a player, nothing as a coach, nothing as an individual you can say at that time because everyone hurts. Everyone is in the moment. What can you possibly say to me to make me feel better? What can I possibly say to you to make you feel better? Nothing. I can say, 'Great game, great this, great that.' But it was all for nothing. We lost."
Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at email@example.com.