The injured Patriot, who set the tight end record for receiving yards and touchdowns during the regular season, was several tortured inches away from one final catch that would have gone down as one of the greatest in NFL history.
Gronkowski, who played despite suffering a high ankle sprain in the AFC title game two weeks ago, had two catches for 26 yards in New England's 21-17 loss.
His first catch of the game was a 20-yarder for first down during a 96-yard touchdown march near the end of the first half that tied a Super Bowl record for the longest drive.
Gronkowski, who was wearing a walking boot until earlier this week, flashed open and waved his hand to get Brady's attention as three defenders closed on the quarterback.
But he just wasn't able to recover in time to get position on Blackburn, who picked the pass off at the Giants' eight-yard line.
And Gronkowski didn't react quickly enough -- or couldn't react quickly enough -- on a last-second Hail Mary that Brady threw into the end zone from beyond midfield after the Giants took the lead with 57 seconds remaining.
Fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez, surrounded by three Giants defenders, leapt for the ball, which was deflected away.
Gronkowski stumbled forward and reached down, but the ball fell incomplete just out of his grasp.