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What if you could change one play in Patriots history?

Related: Bill Belichick on analytics in pro football: ‘I’d prefer good players, good fundamentals, good execution’

Super Bowl XLII - New York Giants v New England Patriots Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Football is inevitably a game of “What if...” as just a single play could change the outcome of games one way or the other. Just look at the New England Patriots’s last championship run to cap the 2018 season. Had Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford not lined up offsides two weeks earlier in the AFC Championship negating an interception, the Patriots may not have been able to make the trip to Atlanta.

Such thought experiments are mostly pushed by those on the losing side, and far more often than not the last 20 years this was not the Patriots. The team still came up short every now and then, and asking “What if...” could potentially alter the outcome of those games. The most prominent example might just be New England’s loss in Super Bowl 42 against the New York Giants, when the quest for a perfect season was spoiled.

The Patriots had numerous moments in this game that could potentially have changed the final result. The three most prominent of all came on the Giants’ game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter:

  • What if New England stopped the Giants on 4th and 1?
  • What if Asante Samuel held onto a possible interception by Eli Manning?
  • What if David Tyree’s helmet wasn’t made of Velcro?

If any one of those three plays ends in a different result, one not favoring the Giants, the Patriots might come away victoriously in Super Bowl 42 and in turn won their fourth title seven years earlier than they ultimately did.

Alas, the plays unfolded like they did and New England came up short in the end. Thoughts of “What if...” still float around this game and the lost goal of going 19-0, so much so that Tom Brady himself stated that he would trade two of his seven Super Bowl rings for the undefeated season he missed out on in 2007.

While Super Bowl 42 might be the ultimate “What if...” in Patriots history, it is not the only one. So, with that said, what would you do if you could change any play in the franchise’s past? Would you change the outcome of Super Bowl 42 or another game?

Let us know in the comments!