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."
And nobody will question anything he says again.
Manning was criticized for insisting before the season that he's an elite quarterback. Then, with the Giants struggling, he was overshadowed by a different Manning drama.
Peyton and the Colts were hoping to reach a Super Bowl in their stadium. Instead, the quarterback had neck operations and the team came apart, prompting ownership to clean house. The week leading up to the Super Bowl was overshadowed in town by talk about Peyton's future.
Eli insisted he wasn't bothered by sharing the spotlight. In the fourth quarter on Sunday, he had it all to himself.
Manning was 10 of 14 for 118 yards in the final quarter with his seventh game-winning drive of the season. Overall, he completed 30 of 40 for 296 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions, leading the Giants to their fourth Super Bowl championship — two behind Pittsburgh for the record.
In the end, a Manning got to hoist the silver Super Bowl trophy in Indianapolis.
"It just feels good to win a Super Bowl," Eli said. "Doesn't matter where you are."
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