Blame me, he said. Blame me for letting a ball I always catch fall to the ground.
"It comes to the biggest moment of my life, and (I) don't come up with it," the New England Patriots wide receiver said. "Most critical situation, and I let the team down."
And there was a desperation heave by Brady on the final play into the end zone - a pass covering more than half the field that bounced off several players in the end zone. After it bounced off the last set of fingertips and fell to the ground, the game was over.
It nearly was.
"I felt like I was close," Gronkowski said. "But close isn't there."
Added Brady: "We got to the 50, and ran out of time."
Two plays later, Manning hit Victor Cruz for a 2-yard touchdown and a 9-0 lead late in the first quarter.
"I thought we played very competitive, had our moments where we moved the ball and stopped them," Belichick said. "We were in the lead for a good part of the game. We just came up a couple of plays short."
On a second-and-11 at the Patriots 44, the sure-handed receiver had a chance to score. All he had to do was catch the ball and, perhaps, make it to the end zone. Amazingly, the ball went off his hands.
"It's one of those plays I've made 1,000 times," he said.
Brady and Deion Branch failed to connect on the next play on a pass just behind the receiver and the Patriots punted.
"We had opportunities to put this team away and we didn't," Branch said. "All the plays were big. Every play is important. Had I made the catch that was behind me, that could have been a key third down but we didn't connect on it."
After the punt, when Manning started the winning 88-yard drive capped by Ahmad Bradshaw's 6-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds to go.
"The ball is right there," Welker said. "I've just got to make the play. It's a play I've made 1,000 times in practice and everything else."
"He's a hell of a player," Brady said. "I'll keep throwing the ball to him for as long as I possibly can. He's a phenomenal player and teammate. I love that guy."
When Welker was done with his stint at the postgame podium, he walked slowly to the team bus with a backpack over his left shoulder. At one point, he passed a group of cheering fans dressed in Giants shirts. He kept walking, looking blankly straight ahead.
At least he could share the misery with his teammates.
"I think every guy in the locker room wishes they could have done a little more," Brady said.