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Brady erases safety with perfect TD drive; Patriots lead Giants 10-9 at Super Bowl halftime
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) ' Tom Brady overcome a rare early Super Bowl safety with a perfect 10-for-10 drive late in the second quarter, capping it with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Woodhead to give the New England Patriots a 10-9 lead over the New York Giants at halftime on Sunday.
Brady led a masterful 14-play, 96-yard possession that culminated in the TD with 8 seconds left in the half, equaling two others ' in 1986 and 2010 ' for the longest in a Super Bowl. He hit all 10 passes for 98 yards ' longer than 96 because of penalties on the Patriots that made them travel extra.
Already a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player twice and a champion three times, Brady started as shakily Sunday. On his first play, which began at New England's 6, he threw the ball away deep while standing in his own end zone and being pressured by Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck.
A penalty for intentional grounding was called, which resulted in the safety and a 2-0 lead for the Giants. Only one other time in Super Bowl history did the game's first score come on a safety, all the way back in 1975, when the Steelers beat the Vikings.
Little went right for New England at the start as New York took a 9-0 lead after Eli Manning's 2-yard TD toss to Victor Cruz, who did his celebratory salsa dance in the back of the end zone with about 3 minutes left in the first quarter.
Manning is the first quarterback to begin a Super Bowl with nine consecutive completions, starting Sunday 9 for 9 for 77 yards.
He was the MVP back in 2008, when New York had an upset win over New England in the Super Bowl, ruining the Patriots' bid for a perfect season with a late comeback.
This time, New York ran 19 of the game's first 20 plays, outgaining New England 108-0 in yards and holding a time-of-possession edge of 11 minutes, 28 seconds to 8 seconds. New England didn't get its initial first down until there were under two minutes left in the opening quarter.
There also was an apparent fumble by the Giants, recovered by the Patriots ' except it was wiped out by a penalty because New England was caught with 12 men on the field, instead of 11.
Eventually, though, Brady got going ' and he did so before the extended Super Bowl halftime show featuring "Material Girl" Madonna.
Earlier, Stephen Gostkowski's 29-yard field goal put the Patriots on the board, trailing 9-3 a little more than a minute into the second quarter.
The early positive for the AFC champion Patriots was winning the pregame coin toss, after NFC teams had won the past 14 at the Super Bowl.
New England deferred its choice until the second half, giving New York the ball first at the start of the game.
The Patriots (15-3) entered Sunday on a 10-game winning streak. Their last loss came against New York in the regular season, a 24-20 Giants victory on Nov. 6. The Giants (12-7) had won five consecutive games.
The roof was closed at Lucas Oil Stadium as Indianapolis hosted the NFL championship game for the first time, with an expected U.S. TV audience exceeding 100 million.
The most talked-about injury all week was Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's sprained left ankle. He was wearing a gray walking boot when he came off the team flight to Indianapolis; he missed most of New England's practice time.
But Gronkowski was on the field when it mattered, and while he appeared to be at something less than full speed at all times Sunday, he did haul in a 20-yard catch while surrounded by defenders right before the 2-minute warning in the first half.
The Giants, meanwhile, lost one of their backup tight ends in the second quarter, when Travis Beckum was knocked out of the game with a torn ligament in his right knee.