Naturally, the Patriots came back. Brady moved them down the field, throwing underneath more often than not. Then, on the 12th play of the drive, Brady hit his favorite receiver, Randy Moss. The Giants elected to double Wes Welker inside and left cornerback Corey Webster alone with Moss. When Webster tripped on his backpedal, Moss was wide open for a 7-yard touchdown on third-and-goal.
Manning, however, engineered a terrific drive as time ran down. The signature play: Manning, ducking and spinning, somehow avoided a severe rush, and Tyree managed to reel in a 33-yard catch -- he initially pinned the ball on his helmet with one hand -- giving New York the ball at the New England 24-yard line. With 35 seconds left, Manning hit Burress with a gorgeous 25-yard touchdown pass, and the Pats' perfect season had congealed, horribly, into the twisted wreckage of a shocking loss.
The Patriots started their final drive on their own 26 with 29 seconds left, but Brady had no magic to offer. Two incomplete passes and a sack preceded the final chance, with 10 seconds left. A long, long pass to Moss fell incomplete, and the crowd went absolutely berserk.
For two weeks, the focus was on the Patriots and their date with destiny. Few outside the locker room in East Rutherford, N.J., gave the Giants much of a chance.
So much for perfection. The Giants will take a little something less.
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.