So, ESPN has been running this feature about the David Tyree play, including a comparison between it and James Harrison's interception return against the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. If you're a football fan, you know the play. Eli Manning avoids a sack, heaves a prayer, and Tyree pins the ball to the helmet in a way that Rodney Harrison, or all people, can't dislodge it. I thought it'd be fun to just give my thoughts on Tyree's play and why I think it is one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history... even greater than (dare I say it?) Harrison's defensive effort.
Harrison's interceptoin was ridiculous, I remember watching it and saying "no way he is taking this to the house." But Super Bowl XLII... that was just... historic, is that the right word? Yeah, in one sense its a catch that simply extends a drive, but the ramifications of that catch will be forever remembered because of who it was against: the 18-0 New England Patriots. Manning gets sacked or Tyree drops the pass, I'm pretty sure 19-0 is in the bag, the 2007 Patriots are forever remembered as the greatest team ever, and Tom Brady gets crowned as the greatest quarterback to play the game. Instead, the Giants are remembered as the team that stopped the offensive juggernaut that was the Pats and New England finishes the season 18-1, the first team with that record to not hold a Super Bowl title.
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As a Pats fan, I remember this play and just thinking that it was fitting for how the game was going on. New England comes out flat, the Giants throw the kitchen sink at Tom Brady and play the game of their lives, and just when New England puts together a drive that reminds us of how good that team was Tyree provides the catch that proves to be the straw that breaks the camel's back. I've said this before and I'll say it again: kudos, Giants. Those guys straight up wanted it more than the Pats. New England was outplayed and out-willed. The Giants D played outstanding, and the team as a whole made plays when they had to be made. I've read on various comment boards posts from Pats fans griping about how the game ended, some of them laying the blame on officiating or just bad luck. Well, as a soccer player who was coached to always look at yourself instead of anyone else when things don't go your way, I just want to give this newsflash: if that offensive line takes care of business, no one needs to gripe about whatever "holding" took place on Catch 42. If Asante doesn't drop a pick that hits him in the hands, 19-0 is in the books. If Belichick decides to let Gostkowksi kick a 50+ yarder instead of having Brady throw to Donte Stallworth on a 4th and long earlier in the game, its 17-17 with :35 left and, at worst, the game goes to OT. Both teams had plenty of chances to win the game, the Giants took theirs and the Patriots didn't. It is as simple as that.
Finally, I also remember reading about Tyree getting cut a season or two afterwards. My first thought was "Man, that has to suck." Then again, not a bad way to go out, eh? "Hey, who's that guy?" "Oh, just the dude who helped snatch football immortality from the 2007 New England Patriots." Gaaah... As a fan, like a player, you learn to move on, but sometimes you can't help but wonder "What if..."