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“That’s the ref’s judgment call,” Brady said. “Tuck, I think, was coming and about to get me. I had to get rid of it.”

It was the same plan that helped New York beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl four years ago, and the same plan that helped the Giants beat up New England earlier this season.

The early blocking breakdown forced the Patriots to go with more maximum protections.

But Tuck, who left briefly after apparently getting hit in the head, didn’t back down.

He kept trying to attack the Pats blockers, kept telling his teammates to believe they could get their problems fixed and insisted that the defensive line would eventually start taking down Brady.

And when Brady got the ball back with 57 seconds to go and needing a touchdown to win, Tuck called the Giants together one last time and gave them one more pep talk.

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