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CAT NIPPED

After winning his first Super Bowl, Tom Brady's life dramatically changed.

He couldn't pump his own gas, eat at his favorite restaurant or even answer his door.

The Patriots quarterback found it hard to elude stardom. Now he can't escape his place in NFL history.

Brady, 26, became the youngest quarterback to win two Super Bowls on Sunday.

Running the no-huddle offense with time running out, Brady completed four passes to set up Adam Vinatieri's winning 41-yard field goal with four seconds remaining to give the Patriots a dramatic 32-29 victory over the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Brady completed a Super Bowl record 32 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns and was named the game's MVP for the second time in leading his team to an NFL title twice in three seasons.

"There's a lot of other quarterbacks who get more attention than Tom Brady, other than his love life," Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said. "But who would you rather have running a two-minute drive in today's football other than Tom Brady? I'm picking him 10 out of 10 times."

Proving again he is one of the best clutch kickers in NFL history, Vinatieri overcame a missed field goal and blocked field goal. But just as he did in 2002 by kicking the winning field goal to beat the Rams on the final play of Super Bowl XXXVI, Vinatieri split the uprights.

"I looked up, and it was going right down the middle," he said.

It looked like the 71,525 at Reliant Stadium would be treated to the first Super Bowl overtime game after the Panthers' Jake Delhomme tied it at 29 with his third touchdown pass, a 12-yarder to Ricky Proehl with 1:08 left.

But that was enough time for Brady, who took advantage of John Kasay's kickoff that went out of bounds, giving the Patriots the ball at their 40.

Brady's 17-yard pass to Deion Branch on third down put the Patriots well within Vinatieri's range.

"Nobody makes them all," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "But if you've got to have one kick with everything on the line, he's the one you want kicking it."

Not only did Brady pilot the Patriots to their 15th consecutive victory, the longest win streak since the 1972 Dolphins went 17-0, his team had not trailed from Nov. 24 until Sunday.

That's when Delhomme gave the Panthers a 22-21 lead by rolling left and connecting on an 85-yard pass to Muhsin Muhammad with 6:53 left.

Brady brought the Pats right back, throwing a 1-yard pass to linebacker Mike Vrabel, who reported as a tight end on the play.

"We've been down before," Brady said. "I think we were just trying to keep our poise, and really, games like this you've got to play 60 minutes. They made some really good plays, and Jake threw the c--- out the ball on our defense, which you don't see very often.

"Each game is different. We have confidence we can win anything. But to win this, the way we did it, just incredible."

Brady's performance was nearly matched by Delhomme, an undrafted quarterback from Breaux Bridge, La., who once backed up Kurt Warner for Amsterdam in NFL Europe.

After starting 1-of-9 for 1 yard, he caught fire to finish with 323 yards and three touchdowns. The Panthers' normally prolific rushing attack was held to 92 yards.

It figured to be a wild second half. At halftime, Justin Timberlake tore off a part of Janet Jackson's top, exposing her breast. And before the kickoff, a man dressed as an official shed his clothes before being tackled on the field.

But the Panthers and Patriots put on a real show, combining for 37 points (a Super Bowl record) and more than 300 yards passing in the fourth quarter alone.

"It's hard right now. It's tough," Delhomme said. "We try to run Stephen (Davis), but we knew it would be tough. When we got down by 11 in the second half, we had to start throwing the football."

The Patriots took a 21-10 lead early in the fourth on Antowain Smith's 2-yard run. The play capped a 71-yard drive highlighted by a 33-yard completion to tight end Daniel Graham.

The Panthers, whose season included five fourth-quarter comebacks, wouldn't go away. DeShaun Foster, who had been used sparingly in the game, scored on a 33-yard run with 12:39 left. The Panthers went for a two-point conversion but Delhomme's pass failed, leaving it 21-16.

Brady had a chance to put the game away. But he lost his California cool for a moment.

On third and goal from the Panthers 10, Brady threw a pass under pressure and off his back foot for tight end Christian Fauria that cornerback Reggie Howard stepped in front of and intercepted in the end zone.

"Any time you throw a pick like that what were we up? We were up five. I just didn't made the best throw," Brady said. "I think I threw to right guy, and I didn't put enough air under it. I threw it right to the guy, but the guy made a good play on it."

Panthers coach John Fox will be criticized for going for two-point conversions twice and coming up empty. That opened the door for Vinatieri's winning field goal. But in the end, like the Rams two years ago, they couldn't contain Brady.

"We had to commit some guys at the end to stop the pass, and it opened up some running lanes," Fox said. "They're a talented team, and they got the ball last."

Brady was at a loss to describe how he felt about his place in league history.

"I can't put that in perspective," Brady said. "I don't know how to feel. You work so hard to get here, and then you do it. "There's lot of things going through my mind."

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