Millions of fans, of course, understand how this strategic peculiarity occurred. The Patriots felt they needed to get the ball back with enough time left to mount a come-from-behind scoring drive.
The Giants trailed by two points but had driven to the Patriots 7-yard line, and were virtually assured of going ahead with a chip-shot field goal. They had the luxury of running down the clock, since New England had only one timeout left. A few running plays would set up the game-winning kick and leave virtually no time for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to work any last-minute magic.
So when Bradshaw was handed the ball and the Patriots offered no resistance. Giants quarterback Eli Manning yelled at Bradshaw to go down and not dash in for a touchdown that would stop the clock. Bradshaw tried to kneel before the goal line, but his momentum carried him in for the score.
This was a chess match, for sure, but one that went against the basic instincts of players on both sides. The defense was trying to let the offense score, and the offense was trying not to score (at least until the last seconds).
While this situation may seldom be repeated, there is a way, it seems, it could almost be totally avoided. The solution? Stop the clock after every play after the two-minute warning if the offensive team is inside the “red zone” (within 20 yards of the end zone) and can either tie or win with a field goal or touchdown.
This could conceivably add to the last-minutes drama of many games, not just the Super Bowl, and wouldn’t eliminate the need for teams that are behind to have an effective “two-minute offense.”