INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Bill Belichick gave clear instructions to his defensive unit: Let the runner score.
Crazy? Not at all.
They led 17-15 with 1:04 left but had just one timeout as New York faced a second down only 6 yards from the goal line.
A field goal, Belichick said Monday, that had a "well over 90 percent success rate" from that distance.
Still, it went against the competitive nature of defensive players, whose job it is to keep opponents out of the end zone, and runners, whose goal it is to get there.
"It killed me," said linebacker Brandon Spikes, a hard-hitting linebacker who simply stepped aside. "When the call came in to let them score, I was kind of like, `What? I'm here to do my job and it's my job to play defense and let them score?' It was tough. It definitely was tough."
Bradshaw also had to fight off his instincts. As he approached the goal line, he tried to stop, like someone trying to avoid losing his balance. But his momentum carried him across the goal line, falling backward, even as game MVP Eli Manning yelled at him to go down.
"I tried," Bradshaw said, "but I couldn't do it."
So it was 21-17 and Brady had those 57 seconds to score a touchdown. He had done it many times before.
Starting at his 20, he threw two incompletions and then was sacked. But on fourth down, he connected with Deion Branch for 19 yards and a first down at the 33. Then he hooked up with Aaron Hernandez for 11 yards to the 44 before spiking the ball. The Giants then drew a 5-yard penalty, moving the ball to the Patriots 49.
Still a chance, however slim.
With nine seconds left, Brady threw an incompletion to Branch.
Belichick's strategy, sound though it might have been, didn't work out.
"He made a good decision," Brady said. "We left ourselves with a little bit of time."
The Bills appeared to score with 1:43 left on a 39-yard pass play from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Fred Jackson. But the ruling that Jackson crossed the goal line was reversed after replay and Buffalo got the ball at the 1. Fitzpatrick kept kneeling on every play until Rian Lindell kicked a winning 28-yard field goal as time expired.
"I was looking for someone to tackle me," he said.
Jones-Drew's play reminded Garrard of when Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook also took a knee at the 1 to seal a late-season win over Dallas in 2007.
But the Super Bowl decision by Belichick is likely to linger the longest as sports fans debate its wisdom over the years.
At least one person with a rooting interest, Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, knew it wouldn't work.
"They needed a helluva lot more than 57 seconds to be able to win the football game," Jacobs said. "So I wasn't worried at all."
But what choice did they have?
"It was better than not having a chance at all," Brady said.