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Brady's Super Bowl bid falls short

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady walks off

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady walks off the field after the Patriots' 21-17 loss to the Giants inSuper Bowl XLVI football game. (Feb. 5, 2012) Credit: AP

INDIANAPOLIS -- With 57 seconds left, 80 yards stood between Tom Brady and a fourth Super Bowl crown, one that would have put the Patriots quarterback in rarified air.

But there was no magical ending this time, not with the Giants refusing to be denied. And when Brady's 51-yard Hail Mary bounced off the fingertips of several players in the end zone and landed on the Patriots' logo as time expired, that was it.

"We got to the 50 and just ran out of time," Brady said. "Obviously, I wish we could have done a little bit more."

Brady finished 27-for-41 for 276 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and had a 91.1 passer rating. He was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone on the Patriots' very first play from scrimmage, which resulted in a safety. But to say Brady bounced back from that inauspicious start would be an understatement.

He heated up in the second quarter and completed a Super Bowl-record 16 passes in a row, breaking the mark held by someone Brady used to watch on TV a lot while growing up in the Bay Area -- his idol, Joe Montana.

Brady was 15-for-15 for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns on two successive scoring drives -- one to end the first half and one to start the second. He connected on 20 of his first 23 attempts, with the three incompletions the intentional grounding and two passes knocked down by Jason Pierre-Paul.

It was a stark contrast from the way things began for Brady, who made an unusual gaffe the first time he attempted a pass.

Facing first-and-10 at the Patriots' 6, Brady dropped back into the end zone but couldn't find an open receiver. Justin Tuck got pushed into Patriots guard Logan Mankins and ricocheted off him as if he were in a pinball machine, quickly redirecting himself toward Brady.

Seeing Tuck flying in, Brady chucked a throw deep down the middle of the field to nobody in particular and was flagged for grounding. "It is a referee's judgment call," Brady said. "I was looking down the middle of the field and Tuck was looking to come get me. I tried to get rid of it. The referee made the call."

It was the second time in Super Bowl history that the initial points were scored on a safety. The last time it occurred was in Super Bowl IX, when the Steelers beat the Vikings.

Brady looked more like himself on the Patriots' final drive of the first half, hitting on all 10 attempts. He capped the 14-play, 96-yard drive with a 4-yard toss to Danny Woodhead for a 10-9 lead. He also threw a 12-yard TD pass to Aaron Hernandez early in the third quarter. But he couldn't find the end zone again, something he'll probably lament throughout the offseason.

Said Brady, "We just didn't make enough plays."

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