INDIANAPOLIS -- When Plaxico Burress caught the winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLII, he went down to one knee and bedlam ensued. When Lawrence Tynes kicked field goals in overtime that sent the Giants to two Super Bowls, he sprinted around the field in celebration.
But when Ahmad Bradshaw scored the winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday night, no one was sure how to react.
Bradshaw scored on a 6-yard run to give the Giants a 21-17 lead with 57 seconds left, a touchdown that he seemed to regret as soon as he tumbled backward over the goal line. The Patriots allowed him to score so they could get the ball back in Tom Brady's hands with as much time as possible to attempt their own winning drive. Bradshaw seemed to realize that and attempted to slam on the brakes at the 1-yard line, but his momentum took him in for six points.
"I just yelled: 'Don't score! Don't score!' " Eli Manning said he told Bradshaw after the handoff. "Obviously, he heard me [because] he thought about it. I know it's tough for a running back. They see a big hole right there going for a touchdown. I think something almost had to pop into his head like something was up -- this is a little bit too good to be true . . . I think he didn't quite know what to do. He said, 'Hey, I have a touchdown, I'm going to take it.' I am glad he did."
"It's a tough feeling," Bradshaw said of the uncommon urge to not score. "I didn't think about it and then Eli says, 'Don't score! Don't score!' as soon as he gives me the ball. It didn't click until like the 1-yard line. I tried to go down and tap down but the momentum took me in . . . To leave that much time on the clock was kind of risky.''
Bear Pascoe said he blocked his man and realized that although he was not giving up any ground, there wasn't much of a push back toward him. Kevin Boothe said that after the TD, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork gave him a knowing nod.
"There was a little bit of chatter about it, but I think we thought they were maybe going to try to stop us," Boothe said. "Looking back, [scoring] was the right move."
Even Manning, who was yelling for Bradshaw to stop, conceded that Monday.
"It's a tough situation right there as you are thinking about what to do," he said. "I think you have to score a touchdown right there . . . Looking back, we did the right thing.''
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked after the game if he could go through his thought process regarding the situation. "Ball was inside the 10-yard line, a 90-percent field-goal conversion [in that territory]," he said.
Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes said he was surprised by the call. "It killed me," he said. "When the call came in to let them score, I kind of was like, 'What?' I'm here to do a job, and it's my job to play the defense and not let them score. It was tough. It definitely was tough."
Those on the Giants' sideline, though happy with the lead, clearly were stressed, too. Those 57 seconds seemed like a lot of time, but Brandon Jacobs said he wasn't worried. "If that was Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers on the other side with those big outfits, 57 seconds would have been enough time for those guys," he said. "But New England, I think they have a good offense, but they do a good job of eating up the clock. Their passes are like runs, they dink and dunk, dink, dunk, 6 yards here, 7 yards there, 10 or 15 is a big one. They needed a hell of a lot more than 57 seconds to be able to run the football down there."
With Kimberley A. Martin