INDIANAPOLIS – How do you explain this?

Tell me, how do you explain this?

The New York Giants did it again to the New England Patriots. Eli Manning did it again to Tom Brady. Tom Coughlin did it again to Bill Belichick.

It was New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17 on Sunday night in the Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium, another instant classic in the sports world.

Another devastating loss for the Patriots.

“It hurts to get this close and come up short,” said Patriots guard Logan Mankins.

The Giants took an all-too familiar route to their fourth Super Bowl championship.

Manning outplayed Tom Brady, who set a Super Bowl record with 16 consecutive completions but couldn’t get one when he needed it in the fourth quarter to seal the game, misfiring on consecutive passes to Wes Welker and Deion Branch that would have chewed up time and set the Patriots up for at least a field goal.

David Tyree, the man with the miracle helmet catch on the winning drive, resurfaced, although on this night he was named Mario Manningham.

Manningham caught four passes for 68 yards in the fourth quarter, his tightrope along the left sidelines almost the equal of Tyree’s historic catch four years ago.

On first down from the New York 12 with 3:46 remaining, Manning fired a high pass to Manningham streaking down the left sideline, right in front of the Patriots’ bench. With Sterling Moore and Patrick Chung trailing him, he reached out and plucked Manning’s pass from the air and somehow dragged his feet inbounds to make the catch.

Belichick challenged the catch. He had to. But it was obvious from the first replay that it was a catch.

And that led to a 6-yard touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw with 57 seconds left.

And then it came down to one final heave by Brady into the end zone, five Giants defenders surrounding Aaron Hernandez, batting the ball to the ground before Rob Gronkowski could reach it.

“To have a finish like that will go down in history, it’s a great feeling,” said Coughlin.

Not if you’re the Patriots, who will again lament the missed opportunities.

They gave the Giants the first nine points of the game. Brady uncharacteristically was called for a safety for intentional grounding in the end zone when he simply threw the ball deep to nobody while he was in the pocket. Then the defense was caught with 12 men on the field to negate a fumble recovery, and two plays later Manning hit Victor Cruz with a touchdown pass.

They’ll look at the fourth quarter, unable to protect a 17-15 lead, driving and then

On first down from the Giants’ 43, Chris Canty shoots through and tackles BenJarvus Green-Ellis for a 1-yard loss.

On second down, Wes Welker breaks open behind the defense. Brady’s pass is high and behind him, and he can’t jump high enough or twist his body enough to catch it, the ball tipping off his fingertips.

On third down, Deion Branch is open downfield and Brady throws it behind him, allowing Corey Webster of New York to break up the pass.

Punt. Giants drive. Game over.

And the Patriots were left to undress, then dress, slowly, very slowly, in a stunned, nearly silent locker room. Players answered questions reluctantly.

Branch, in particular, sat in front of his locker, shaking his head.

“They made more plays than us,” said Brady. “They played a good game and that’s what it takes in football.

“Last time they beat us (in the Super Bowl) it took a miracle play (by Tyree). Today we had a chance at a miracle play and didn’t make it. When you make those plays, you celebrate. When you don’t, you don’t sleep for a week.”

The Patriots’ nightmare will continue.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH


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