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Top Stories of 2012, No. 1: Patriots lose Super Bowl XLVI to Giants 12.31.12 at 1:50 pm ET
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Over the final week of 2012, WEEI.com has been counting down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. This entry in the countdown is No. 1: the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Giants.

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: NHL lockout
No. 9: Wes Welker’s up-and-down year
No. 8: Bruins’ early playoff elimination
No. 7: Ray Allen’s departure from Celtics
No. 6: Tim Thomas’ political controversy and sabbatical
No. 5: Celtics’ Eastern Conference finals loss to Heat
No. 4: Red Sox’ megatrade with Dodgers
No. 3: Tom Brady’s MVP-caliber season
No. 2: Bobby Valentine’s nightmare season as Red Sox manager

Wes Welker had seven catches for 60 yards in Super Bowl XLVI, but his key fourth-quarter drop got the most attention after the Patriots lost to the Giants. (AP)

It wasn’t a perfect season that was ruined, but the second time that the Giants ended the Patriots’ hopes for a fourth Super Bowl title was equally as heartbreaking.

For the Patriots, hopes were high at the beginning of the postseason. That’s because New England won the AFC East with a 13-3 record. For the Pats, especially after the previous year’s loss in the divisional playoffs to the Jets, it was Super Bowl or bust.

The Giants dealt the Patriots one of their three losses on the season in Week 9. In a game that featured no scoring in the first half, the Giants came out strong after the half and put 10 points on the board in the third quarter while the Patriots were held to just a field goal. Despite two touchdown drives and a field goal in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady and the Patriots couldn’t overcome Eli Manning and the Giants offense, who put up another 14 points for a 24-20 victory. It was the Patriots’ last loss of the regular season.

The Pats trounced the Broncos in the divisional playoffs on a frosty night in Foxboro. Brady threw for 363 yards and six touchdowns, three of which were to Rob Gronkowski.

The Patriots went on to a close win in the AFC championship game against the Ravens. After Brady’s fourth-quarter rushing touchdown put the Pats up 23-20, the defense was able to hold off the Ravens for two drives. The Pats forced the Ravens to place their trust in kicker Billy Cundiff. Luckily for the Pats, Cundiff shanked a 32-yard field goal attempt with 15 seconds on the game clock, ensuring another Patriots Super Bowl appearance.

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Eagles safety Nate Allen done for season 12.22.10 at 8:54 am ET
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Eagles rookie safety Nate Allen has a ruptured patella tendon in his right knee and will have season-ending surgery. Allen was hurt in the Eagles’ thrilling 38-31 win over the Giants on Sunday. His knee appeared to buckle while attempting to tackle Mario Manningham. Rookie Kurt Coleman, a seventh-round pick, will take Allen’s starting spot. Allen is the Eagles’ fourth defensive starter to go down in 2010. Already out for the NFC East division leader are rookie defensive end Brandon Graham, defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley and cornerback Ellis Hobbs on injured reserve. Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley is also out with a dislocated elbow and may not return until the playoffs.

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Giants WR Steve Smith not at practice, Sunday status in doubt 11.12.10 at 1:15 pm ET
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New York Post beat writer Paul Schwartz tweeted that wide receiver Steve Smith was not at Friday’s practice, and that “He’s not playing Sunday vs. the Cowboys.” Smith has missed time with a pectoral strain. This echoes Star-Ledger beat writer Mike Garafolo‘s earlier tweet that Smith will likely miss a game or two. Garafolo added that the strain “isn’t great but not terrible.”

Smith led the Giants in receiving last season but has since taken a back seat to Hakeem Nicks. Fantasy-wise, Mario Manningham will fill in for Smith and becomes a quality WR2 against a Cowboys defense that has surrendered 18 passing touchdowns this season and appears to have given up.

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