New England was able to score touchdowns to close out the second quarter and open the third, giving them a 17-9 lead.
The Giants posted field goals on their next two drives while New England was unable to score, pulling to within 17-15.
Manning, who this season broke his brother’s NFL record for fourth-quarter touchdown passes with 15, made his eighth fourth-quarter comeback of the year when it mattered most, completing 5 of 6 passes on the final drive.
For the night, he was 30 of 40 for 296 yards and one touchdown. The Patriots sacked him three times, but though the defense forced two fumbles, it wasn’t able to get either loose ball. One first-quarter fumble by Victor Cruz was pounced on by Brandon Spikes, but the would-be turnover was negated by a penalty for 12 men on the field.
Though players were heartbroken, several noted that this Patriots team is young, and Branch promised that they would be back.
That’s in the future, though. Last night, as the reality of coming so close to lifting the Lombardi Trophy and letting it slip away again set in, the talk was more of the pain.
“It hurts pretty bad,’’ Mankins said. “I’ve lost a lot of games in my career, but nothing hurts like losing the Super Bowl.’’
Shalise Manza Young can be reached at email@example.com.