INDIANAPOLIS – Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw looked back, saw no one chasing him, and paused at the goal line.
Could it really be this easy to score the winning touchdown in a Super Bowl game?
The latest showdown between the Giants and the Patriots came down not to a last-minute touchdown pass by Eli Manning but a touchdown run that was set up by a desperate defensive gamble by New England, leading 17-15 in the final moments.
Knowing the Giants were in position to run out the clock and kick a winning field goal, the Patriots went soft and seemed to let Bradshaw score on a 6-yard run with no resistance for a 21-17 lead with 57 seconds left.
Seemingly surprised that no one was trying to grab him, Bradshaw paused at the goal line and flipped into the end zone with a flourish.
"Oh, man, it was the best feeling in my life," Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw plopped into the end zone painted with the Giants' logo and then he and his teammates watched to see if Tom Brady could pull off a long-shot chance, an 80-yard touchdown drive with little time.
Couldn't do it.
Brady got the Patriots to their own 49-yard line with 5 seconds left. On the final play, he eluded a rush and threw into the middle of the end zone, where a pack of players from both teams jumped and clawed for the ball.
It skittered out of the scrum and secured another last-minute Super Bowl win for the Giants. Four years ago, they scored the winning touchdown on Manning's pass in the closing minute, then held on to end New England's try for a perfect season with a 17-14 victory.
The Patriots wanted to avoid getting into the same situation all over again, and had a chance when they got the ball back at their own 8-yard line with 9:24 to go.
They had their chance, driving to midfield while draining the clock. It slipped off their fingertips when Wes Welker couldn't come down with a pass at the 20-yard line and only 4 minutes to go. After one more incompletion, the Patriots punted and soon found themselves in the unwanted position of having to gamble on defense.