After the punt, when Manning started the winning 88-yard drive capped by Ahmad Bradshaw's 6-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds to go.
Had Welker made the catch and the Patriots scored, that touchdown might have been insignificant.
"The ball is right there," Welker said. "I've just got to make the play. It's a play I've made 1,000 times in practice and everything else."
But Welker is a big reason the Patriots reached the Super Bowl. And just one reason they lost it.
"He's a hell of a player," Brady said. "I'll keep throwing the ball to him for as long as I possibly can. He's a phenomenal player and teammate. I love that guy."
When Welker was done with his stint at the postgame podium, he walked slowly to the team bus with a backpack over his left shoulder. At one point, he passed a group of cheering fans dressed in Giants shirts. He kept walking, looking blankly straight ahead.
At least he could share the misery with his teammates.
"I think every guy in the locker room wishes they could have done a little more," Brady said.
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