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Giants beat Patriots to win Super Bowl

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Believe.

That's all anyone can do now. The Giants, a team that was counted out and discounted time after time this season, are the Super Bowl champions.

"It's in this room, right here," linebacker Antonio Pierce said. "The best team won. What else can you say?"

The 17-14 win in Super Bowl XLII was as improbable and as crazy as any of the 11 straight wins away from home this season, a record that might never fall. The biggest record that fell on the University of Phoenix Stadium grass Sunday night was, of course, the Patriots' run at perfection.

It fell away just as Tom Brady's final throw fell away, a heave down the field for the double-covered Randy Moss that dropped harmlessly to the ground. The Patriots' only blemish in 19 games this season came in the game that mattered most, after Moss had caught the easiest 6-yard touchdown pass of his storied career, a quick throw from Brady with 2:42 to play that gave the Patriots a 14-10 lead.

Corey Webster tripped himself as he backed up on a third-and-goal play, and the defense that had kept the Giants in the game for more than 50 minutes couldn't believe that its run would end in such a defenseless fashion.

"There's no way. No way," safety Gibril Wilson said as he jogged off the field, leaving the game in the hands of Eli Manning and the offense. "It absolutely couldn't end like that."

Manning, the Super Bowl MVP just as his big brother Peyton was a year ago, didn't bat an eye. He had moved the ball well throughout the game, plagued by a couple of key drops. One went into Steve Smith's hands at the Pats' 10 in the second quarter and Smith swung it up into Ellis Hobbs' hands for Manning's only interception in four postseason wins.

But he was quietly confident, as always, even starting from his own 17 with 2:39 left, three timeouts and the weight of the world on his shoulders.

"He just said, 'We're going to go down and score,' " guard Chris Snee said.

How he got there will live in Super Bowl lore. Brandon Jacobs had to bull for 2 yards on a fourth-and-1 from the Giants' 37. Manning, facing consistent pressure from the Patriots, scrambled away from Adalius Thomas for 5 yards, then -- on a third-and-5 from his 44 with 80 seconds to go -- made the play of his life.

Defensive ends Jarvis Green and Richard Seymour each had a handful of Manning's jersey, seemingly setting up a fourth-and-long to decide this Super Bowl. Manning wrestled free, spun away and fired a ball down the middle of the field, where backup receiver David Tyree went up and caught it, one hand over his head, and came down with the ball pinned to his helmet just in front of Rodney Harrison.

First down at the Patriots' 24, on a true miracle to Tyree, who had caught Manning's first touchdown pass, a 5-yarder to put the Giants ahead 10-7 with 11:05 left.

"I tried to get him the ball and it just floated," said Manning, who completed 19 of 34 for 255 yards. "He just made an unbelievable catch."

There was more. With no timeouts left and a third-and-11 from the 25, Manning found Smith on the right sideline at the 13 for a huge first down and a clock stoppage.

The next play was the same one as the Smith throw, except this time, Plaxico Burress was singled up on Hobbs. Burress, the most confident mouth on the Giants all week, had been invisible all game, just as he was on the practice field. His left knee and his right ankle were killing him all week.

"If anyone could ever know," receivers coach Mike Sullivan said, "how close he came to not playing. He shouldn't have been out there."

But as he had been all season, Burress was there. He faked a slant and caught Hobbs leaning, ran past him to the pylon and caught Manning's perfect throw with 35 seconds to play.

"Nobody gave us a shot," said Burress, who had only two catches. "It came down to one play and we made it."

Brady still had the ball in his hands with 29 seconds and three timeouts. But he had been harassed and hit and hurried all night, save for that one smart drive in the fourth, and he found no room again. Rookie tackle Jay Alford broke free up the middle for a 10-yard sack on second down, the last of five sacks of the usually unsackable Brady. Two deep throws to Moss were incomplete and the Giants' storybook run, from 0-2 to champions, somehow was complete.

"I can't believe we just won this," Michael Strahan said.

"I never thought we could hold them to 14 points, no," defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said.

There's only one thing left for everyone to do now.

Believe.

The Giants are Super Bowl champions.

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