Manning, receivers burn Pats' defense on final drive

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- At the press conference after the game, the Patriots gave all the credit for the Super Bowl victory to the New York Giants.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick even came close to giving them a compliment.

"I mean look, they played well. They made some plays. We made some plays. In the end, they made a couple more than we did."

The Patriots' defensive players echoed their coach's admiration.

"They were playing unbelievable. They were tremendous," safety Rodney Harrison said. "They played with a lot of emotion, sacked the quarterback a lot and played very fast and were physical."

The Giants found holes in the defense at just the right times, and the Patriots seemed to be just a step slower than they've been all season. Harrison was a victim of one of the plays that hurt the Pats the most.

On the Giants' first drive of the final quarter, Manning found Kevin Boss over the middle for 45 yards, beating both Harrison and Adalius Thomas. On third-and-4 three plays later, rookie Brandon Meriweather was burned on a 17-yard pickup by Steve Smith. Manning completed the drive two plays later when he threw a perfect 5-yard TD strike to David Tyree, just out of the grasp of Asante Samuel.

The Patriots were clinging to a four-point lead with 2:42 left when Manning began the Giants' final push at their own 17. The defense had a chance to seal the team's fourth Super Bowl victory in seven years. Instead, Manning marched the Giants down the field as he had in the earlier fourth-quarter drive.

On second-and-5, Manning's sent a high pass out of the reach of Tyree along the right sideline. It sailed into -- and out of -- the hands of Samuel, extending the Giants season.

"If I want to be known as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, then I gotta make that play," Samuel said after the game.

One play later, Manning completed an amazing 32-yard pass to Tyree after scrambling his way out of a sure sack. Tyree out-jumped the 35-year-old Harrison and then hung on to keep the drive alive.

Smith got away from fellow rookie Meriweather for another first down before Plaxico Buress, who had been quiet the entire game, got behind Ellis Hobbs for the Giants' go-ahead touchdown.

"He beat me," Hobbs said. "I have to protect the inside. If I was Flash Gordon, maybe I could have made the play."

Hobbs said Manning had a great game, but he gave a lot of credit to the guys on the other end of Manning's passes.

"Those receivers made some great catches."

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