As Tom Brady's final Hail Mary pass fell incomplete, the scene became chaotic.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walked to midfield to shake hands with New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
Then, as game officials tried to restore order, put one second back on the block and run one more play to end the game, Belichick walked off the field.
But did he walk away from his team's place in history, too?
That had been all the talk all week leading up to Super Bowl XLII.
Perfection. Destiny. Legacy.
The Giants took it all away in 60 minutes, in one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.
Belichick — who doesn't expound much to begin with — was less talkative after the loss.
"I mean look, they (the Giants) played well," Belichick said. "They made some plays. We made some plays. In the end, they made a couple more than we did."
And now, the Patriots' place in NFL history is less assured.
They will still likely be the "Team of the New Millennium." They've won three Super Bowls since the turn of the century. No one else has won two in that span.
But their quest for perfection, their quest to join the 1971 Miami Dolphins as the only other undefeated team in NFL history, died in the desert.
"It's a shame because we came so close to being special," Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour said. "Now we're just second."
This was not the Patriots we had come to know this season. The Giants knocked around Tom Brady with a relentless pass rush that counted for five sacks and nine hurries.
The running game disappeared like an desert oasis turned mirage.
The offense really only put together two good drives the entire game — both of their scoring drives.
For an offense used to scoring 53 percent of the time, scoring on two drives out of nine just wasn't enough.
"I think they just executed better," Brady said. "We played them five weeks ago and it was a three-point game, and they made enough changes and really eliminated what we did offensively. Our team is extremely disappointed."
Instead, it was Giants quarterback Eli Manning who put together the game-winning heroics, even though Brady thought he had with his touchdown pass to Randy Moss with less than three minutes left in the game.
Manning put together his best impression of Brady in the final two minutes, leading the Giants to paydirt and a Super Bowl victory.
Many of the 1971 Miami Dolphins — the NFL's only undefeated team — were in attendance. Their coach, Don Shula, walked away with respect for what the Patriots attempted on Sunday.
"What I learned today was how tough it is to go undefeated," Shula said. "That's why I'm even more proud of our 1972 team than I've ever been. It shows it's a tremendous accomplishment. It hadn't been done before we went undefeated and it hasn't been done since."
And it may never be done again. The Patriots came as close as anyone ever has to duplicating the Dolphins.
But on Sunday the Giants stole their thunder, their shot at perfection and their legacy as one of the greatest teams in NFL history.
And it hurt.
"Our goal wasn't to be perfect," Seymour said. "Our goal was to win the Super Bowl. The undefeated season just sort of happened."
Actually, it didn't.