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“I think they are both spectacular catches,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “I think with Mario’s earlier tonight, the way he kept his feet inbounds and held onto the ball (while) going out of bounds was a remarkable thing.”

The Patriots were thinking the same thing, too.

“I thought that play they made on our sideline was a phenomenal throw and catch,” Brady said. “That got them going.”

They got down to the 6-yard line with just over a minute left and the Patriots down to one timeout. New York could have run the clock down to a few seconds and kicked a field goal.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did the math and decided on a trade-off: Give up a touchdown for some time. New England pulled up and allowed Ahmad Bradshaw to run the final 6 yards with 57 seconds left.

Once Bradshaw realized what was happening, he tried to stop at the 1-yard line to keep the clock going but ended up falling backward into the end zone.

Brady would get one last chance with the Giants defense bearing down on him, as it always does. Defensive end Justin Tuck huddled the New York defense after a touchback on the kickoff left the ball at the 20-yard line.

“I think a lot of guys had their eyes lit up,” Tuck said. “This is what we’ve been working for all year, and we’ve got 57 seconds left to be world champs.”

Brady set a Super Bowl record by completing 16 consecutive passes earlier in the game, topping Montana’s record. When he needed several quick completions to get moving in the last minute, he couldn’t do it.

The Patriots got only as far as midfield with 5 seconds left. Brady threw a desperation pass into the end zone, where the ball was batted around in a scrum before falling incomplete just beyond the reach of All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, bringing the spray of confetti from above.

“You come down to one play at the end,” Brady said. “If we make it, we’re world champs. If we don’t, we’re wishing we were.”

Brady’s had a tough time against this Giants defense. During the regular season, it pressured him into mistakes during a 24-20 New York win in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots went on to win their next 10, a streak that ended when Brady faced that same defense on Sunday.

It just seems to have his number. On his first pass of the game, Brady was pressured by Tuck in the end zone and threw the ball to an open spot downfield to get rid of it, resulting in a safety.

By contrast, Manning didn’t make any big mistakes and, again, was at his best under the last-minute pressure.

“He’s become confident over time, kind of grew into it,” said his father, former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning. “I always felt like you have to experience those situations before you become confident. He’s certainly had his share.”

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