Mistakes cost Pats in Giants’ 21-17 Super Bowl win

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But Gronkowski was hampered by a high left ankle sprain and had two catches for 26 yards, his second lowest totals of the season.

“He came out to our practice on Thursday and it’s hard to believe he could play the game with the way he was feeling,” Brady said. “He really toughed it out.”

Had the All-Pro been healthy, the Patriots certainly would have had a better chance.

But they still believed that Brady could lead them to a winning touchdown in the final minute.

“Any time that we get a chance to get our offense on the field, we think we have a chance to score,” said Danny Woodhead, whose 4-yard touchdown catch gave the Patriots a 10-9 lead just before halftime.

Hernandez caught a 12-yard scoring pass that made it 17-9. He also led the Patriots with eight receptions, including an 11-yarder that put the ball at their 44-yard line with 17 seconds left. But Brady’s next three passes on the game’s last three plays all fell incomplete.

“It always comes down to one or two plays in this game and if you make it, you’re celebrating,” Brady said. “If you don’t, then you don’t sleep for a week.”

Plenty of Patriots should be tossing and turning for a while.

They forced three fumbles, but the Giants recovered two of them and the third was nullified because they had 12 men on the field.

The missed chance that got the most attention was the drop by Welker on a catchable, if not accurately thrown, ball. Had he caught it, the Patriots would have had a chance to make it a two-possession game.

“There’s a lot of opportunities to miss out on,” he said. “We definitely had ours and didn’t take advantage. I’m right there at the top of the list.”

But Brady is confident that he and Welker will be a successful pairing again.

“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.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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