The reluctant touchdown held up.
New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw scored on a six-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds left, pausing before he finally stepped across the goal line to ponder whether or not he should leave New England's great quarterback Tom Brady that much time to rally from a 21-17 deficit.
Brady did pick up a first down on a fourth-and-16 play after getting sacked by New York lineman Justin Tuck, but on a Hail Mary pass from midfield, the ball fell incomplete in the end zone between tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
The Giants have won their second Super Bowl in four years, beating the Patriots both times, and fourth overall.
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On the decisive drive, Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed a short pass to receiver Hakeem Nicks to keep the drive extended and move the ball to the seven-yard line, forcing the Patriots to burn their timeouts.
Brady, after getting sacked hard on his left shoulder to end the previous possession, faced more pressure on his next series. First, he avoided a near sack, then unleashed a deep pass with Giants' lineman Jason Pierre-Paul converging hard. The deep ball was intercepted by Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn inside the New York five-yard line.
New York averted disaster when Bradshaw's fumble on the second play of that series was recovered by a teammate.
Manning got his team out of the shadow of their own end zone by rifling a completion on third dowm to Nicks.
New York tight end Jake Ballard was injured (left knee) on the possession. Manning responded by connecting with Victor Cruz for a first down on third and eight, then hit Mario Manningham to get the Giants across midfield.
At the Patriots' 38, Manning, whose success in clutch moments has defined the Giants' playoff run, called timeout, then watched his lineman Kevin Boothe commit a five-yard penalty before having a pass to Manningham broken up by defensive back Sterling Moore in a play that could've been called pass interference.
With 9:24 remaining in the game, the Patriots took over at their own seven-yard line. On third down, Brady connected with running back Danny Woodhead for a 25-yard pickup.
On a second and seven, the Patriots ran a reverse with receiver Wes Welker taking the ball to the New England 46. Brady then found his day's favorite target, Hernandez, for a first down across midfield.
But on a third and 11 with 4:00 left, Brady's pass to veteran receiver Deion Branch was broken up on a hard hit by Giants defensive back Corey Webster.
That forced the Giants to take over at their own 12-yard line with 3:46 remaining, but Manning immediately launched a deep ball up the left sideline that Manningham caught over defensive back Sterling Moore -- a completion at the 50 that was upheld after being challenged by Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.
Manning and Manningham hooked up again for 15 yards. The quarterback then hit receiver Hakeem Nicks to move the ball to ther Patriots' 18 at the two-minute warning.
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Photo: Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw almost takes a knee before falling into the end zone against the Patriots in the final minute of Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday. Credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images