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Major Tom

Patriots' quarterback brings home second Super Bowl MVP trophy

Updated: Monday February 2, 2004 1:25PM

MVP Tom Brady and the Patriots bagged their second Super Bowl trophy.
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HOUSTON (AP) -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady picked up his second Super Bowl MVP trophy Monday -- and now has one for each nightstand.

If only he could get some sleep.

Working on one hour of rest because of the celebrations that followed one of the most exhilarating Super Bowls ever, Brady claimed the trophy and the luxury car he gets for being chosen Most Valuable Player. He's already picked out a place for it: by his bed, where it's sure to keep the other one from getting lonely.

"Carolina played their hearts out," Brady said, about 11 hours after he drove New England into field goal position in the final seconds to help the Patriots beat the Panthers 32-29. "I think we just had the ball at the end of the game. That's kind of how we wanted it."

After a record-setting scoring drought to open the first half, the 38th Super Bowl turned into a high-scoring shootout that was remarkably similar to New England's first NFL title two years ago, when Brady also won the MVP after setting up Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal.

"Tom absolutely deserves all the credit he gets," head coach Bill Belichick said at the post-Super Bowl news conference Monday. "The thing about that MVP trophy in the Super Bowl is it usually goes to the winning team. And that's what's most important to him."

And that's what he does better than just about anybody.

Brady's record as a starter is 40-12, and he's 26-4 in games played after Nov. 1. He has never lost a postseason game. And like Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw, he's a two-time Super Bowl MVP; only Joe Montana, with three, has more.

And he's only 26, with less than three full seasons as a starter under his belt. No one ever won two Super Bowls faster.

"He looks like a pretty young guy to me," NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. "I'm sure he'll be playing for a number of seasons, so we can expect the privilege of more great performances from Tom Brady.

So, what does Brady do next?

"[Sunday], as great as it was, there are things that weren't perfect," he said. "So there are a lot of things to improve on."

In fact, it was Brady who threw an interception in the Carolina end zone, costing New England a chance at three points and setting up the Panthers' go-ahead touchdown with 6:53 to play. It was the first time the Patriots had trailed since Nov. 23.

"We were up five," Brady said. "I just didn't make the best throw. We fought back from that and went down and scored."

He put the Patriots back on top 29-22 with a 1-yard touchdown pass to linebacker Mike Vrabel, of all people. After Carolina rallied yet again to tie it, Brady engineered a 37-yard drive in the final minute. His 17-yard completion to Deion Branch on third down -- against a shockingly soft defensive alignment -- set up Vinatieri's 41-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining.

In all, Brady completed a Super Bowl-record 32 passes in 48 attempts, with 5-yard touchdown throws to Branch and David Givens. It was a more masterly performance than in 2002, when Brady, in his first season as a starter, helped New England upset St. Louis 20-17. Vinatieri also won that game on a late field goal, from 48 yards.

"Maybe it was a little deja vu of two years ago," Vinatieri said. "Tom did it again, he's amazing. This supporting cast did it again and gave me a chance."

And just as against the Rams, Brady made clutch throws throughout the final quarter in taking New England to its 15th consecutive victory.

"I don't know how I do it," he said with a laugh. "We just were trying to keep our poise. You realize in games like this you've got to play for 60 minutes. We made enough plays toward the end to win it. ... That's what happens in Super Bowls."

Particularly for Brady and the Pats.

With Carolina on top 22-21, Brady went 6-for-8 on a 68-yard drive. He converted two third downs on the series with perfect passes, then found Vrabel in the front portion of the end zone.

After Jake Delhomme brought back Carolina again and the first overtime in Super Bowl history loomed, New England got a break. John Kasay's kickoff sailed out of bounds, giving the Patriots the ball at their 40 with 1:08 left.

Brady had two 13-yard completions to Troy Brown, leading to the 17-yarder to Branch when the Panthers played a conservative defense.

"Deion ran a great route, I laid it up for him, and it gave us enough time for Adam to run on the field," he said.

By now, it seems inevitable that Brady will produce such heroics.

"In this day in the NFL," offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said, "who else would you want throwing the ball? I'll take Tom Brady 10 times out of 10."

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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