'Supernatural' catch by Tyree a play for the ages
Thanks in large part to David Tyree's remarkable fourth-quarter catch, the Giants stunned the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, Greg Garber writes.
"The catch?" the New York Giants' wide receiver asked, innocently.
The Catch isn't an officially trademarked phrase, but anyone who follows football knows that Joe Montana's touchdown throw to Dwight Clark in the 1981 NFC Championship Game was the signature play that launched a San Francisco 49ers dynasty.
On Sunday in Super Bowl XLI, the Giants stunned the New England Patriots, 17-14. The pivotal play was a not-to-be-believed 32-yard pass from Eli Manning to Tyree that kept the winning drive alive with 59 seconds remaining.
Call it The Catch II.
"I thought it was falling out," said Patriots' safety Rodney Harrison, who did his best to dislodge the ball. "It was a wacky, crazy play."
Here's how it went down:
The Giants were trailing 14-10 after New England quarterback Tom Brady, seemingly inevitably, drove his team 80 yards in 12 plays for the go-ahead touchdown. Order, in the football universe, had been restored.
What were the odds of Manning, much maligned over four seasons with the Giants, one-upping the two-time Super Bowl MVP?
Manning moved the Giants down the field, picking up two first downs on passes to Amani Toomer and a short run by Brandon Jacobs. But after scrambling for 5 yards and then throwing an incomplete pass, Manning faced a third-and-5 at the Giants' 44-yard-line.
"The play call is Phantom," explained Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. "He [Tyree] runs a post and turns it inside."
The problem was, Tyree never got to run his planned route because Manning was under siege. Never the most mobile quarterback, Manning ducked and spun when the pocket collapsed. Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas actually had a handful of his jersey, but Manning escaped to his right..
"Just trying to avoid the sack," Manning explained. "I felt people grabbing me. You try to get small sometimes and keep the play alive.
"The ball hung up there forever."
Said Tyree: "When you see the guy in trouble, you have to break off your route. I saw he was under duress, and I just pulled up and cut it short."
Harrison reacted to Tyree's move back toward the ball and arrived a split-second after Manning's pass. He clawed and swiped at the ball.
"We've got him sacked," Harrison said. "He throws a Hail Mary. I thought it was incomplete."
"I mean, that ball was challenged," said Giants coach Tom Coughlin. "I mean, challenged."
Tyree actually pinned it on his helmet with his right hand and pulled it in before he hit the ground.
"You go up to the highest point," Tyree said.
What's his vertical leap?"Maybe 30 inches," Tyree shrugged. "I probably have the worst vertical leap on the team."
"That play," said defensive end Michael Strahan, "took a few years off my life."
Giants wide receiver Steve Smith was on the field when it happened.
"That was the biggest play of the game," Smith said. "Man, that was a catch. I was talking smack to Rodney."
Three plays later, on third-and-11 at the Patriots' 25-yard-line, Manning hit Smith with a 12-yard pass for a first down. Then Manning reached Plaxico Burress with the winning score, a 13-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds left. Like Brady, Manning took his team down the field in 12 plays, except his drive was three yards longer.
For Tyree, it was a difficult scenario to imagine. He caught three passes for 43 yards, including the Giants' other touchdown, a 5-yarder early in the fourth quarter.
Tyree, a fifth-year player out of Syracuse, missed the regular-season opener with a fractured wrist and played predominantly on special teams. He finished the regular season with four catches (for zero touchdowns) and added a single catch in the three previous playoff games. He also lost his mother during the season.
"It's been a difficult season," Tyree said. "Most people wouldn't understand.
"My opportunities are too far and few to let that one go. It was supernatural, you know? Some things just don't make sense, and that catch is a good example."
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
SUPER BOWL XLII
Game coverage• Belichick ready to move on from Super Bowl loss
• Nevada sports books lose record $2.6M
• View to a thrill: Record 97.5 million watch XLII
• Giants' win shatters viewership records
• Clayton: Can the Giants repeat?
• Simmons: Free fallin'
• Giants spoil Pats' perfect season
• Wojciechowski: Blame Pats for this debacle
• Wickersham: Brady dazed and confused
• Clayton: Eli lets instincts take over
• Clayton: N.Y. 'misfits' harass Brady
• Sando: Was Brady rattled?
• Mosley: Belichick left a second early
• Chadiha: Ten things we learned
• Garber: Tyree's catch one for the ages
• Zoom galleries 1 | 2 | Great SB upsets
• SportsNation: Best Super Bowl?
• SportsNation: Biggest SB upset?
• SportsNation: Your favorite commercials?
Commentary/Features• Clayton: Top five contenders for the next SB
• '72 Fins breathe sigh of relief after Giants win
• Chadiha: Giants enjoy underdog role
• Sando: Coughlin, Giants made it work
• Super Bowl picks: Our experts weigh in
• Merrill: Nine previously perfect Patriots
• Merrill: Harrison deals with his rep just fine
• Clayton: Giants' O-line worthy of accolades
• Pasquarelli: Tip Sheet
• Pasquarelli: Tip Sheet notes
• Wojciechowski: 15 reasons Patriots will win
• E-ticket: Patriots' man of mystery
• Sunday Countdown
• Clayton's First and Goal
• Chadiha: Giants miss Shockey
• Garber: Injured war vet inspires Giants
• Pasquarelli: The Pats' crucial cameos
• Garber: In Brady's world, insecurity remains
• Merrill: Hixon's traumatizing season
• Football Outsiders: SB numbers crunching
• Pasquarelli: Patriots' silent sentinel
• Wojciechowski: Unflappable Eli
• Sando: Brady rising among all-time QBs
• Chadiha: Giants' rookies playing prominent role
• Fleming: Cardinals/Pottsville Curse
• Clayton: Youth serving Giants well
• Chadiha: Ranking the best QBs by decade
• Klancnik: Top QBs by jersey number
• Hashmarks: Media day coverage | Gallery
• Pasquarelli: Pats' old-school LBs
• Helyar: Marketing windfall for Eli Manning
• Garber: Seau's ring quest
• Pasquarelli: Bruschi's full-circle journey
• Animated plays
• From the research room
• Chadiha: Pierce just wants to win
• Wojciechowski: Explaining Bill Belichick
• Helyar: Recession? Not at Super Bowl!
• Giants' Snee doesn't stray from roots
• Sando: Seymour in eye of storm
• Merrill: Welker scales new heights for Pats
• Pasquarelli: Brady is ready to play
• Garber: The preservation of Plaxico
• Pasquarelli: Hill's spirit lives on
• Clayton: Giants' juggling act at CB works
• Wickersham: Giant ideas
• Klosterman: All too perfect
• Crown Jewels: A look at Super Bowl rings
• FB Outsiders: Giants one of worst SB teams
• Helyar: Patriots will drive TV ratings
• Clayton: First and goal
• Chadiha: Giants' glory road
• Mosley: Brady's ankle saves the week
• Woj: Preseason predictions revisited
• Merrill: David Woodley's dark spotlight
• Former SB QBs: Plunkett | Rypien | Ferragamo
• More: Morton | Humphries | Hostetler | Eason
• Starting matchups of Super Bowl QBs
• Ranking the QB performances: 1-40 | 41-82
• Jaworski: Six Super Bowl surprises
• Joyner: Brady's bad decisions
• Clayton: Eli's managing fine
• Chadiha: Focused Giants
• AccuScore simulation: Pats to prevail
• Chadiha: First Look at the Super Bowl
• Playoff schedule
• Vermeil doubts spying made difference for Pats
• Fish: Ex-Ram Warner suspicious of Pats in SB XXXVI
• Report: Pats taped Rams' SB walk-through
• Specter to Goodell: Let's talk
• Fish: Possible 'Spygate' witness surfaces
• Easterbrook: NFL can blame itself for scandal's timing
• Munson: Congressional interest serious
• Pasquarelli: Specter should stick with politics
• Clayton: Spy saga won't distract Patriots
• Hashmarks at Goodell's news conference
• Specter to Goodell (.pdf)
• Goodell to Specter (.pdf)
Page 2• Gallo: Five stages of heartbreak for Pats' fans
• Hill: Best Super Bowl parties
• Hill: Teflon Tom Brady
• Popculture roundtable on the Super Bowl
• Hill: Raiders quit on Moss
• Flem File at the Super Bowl
• Fleming: Defining greatness
• Best teams never to win a title
• TMQ: Title-game analysis
• Why Boston teams are so good
• Gallo: Countdown to kickoff
• More from Page 2
News• Brady ankle not on injury report
• Brady on Plax prediction: Only 17 points for Pats?
• Carey named first black Super Bowl referee
• Brady practices in Pats' first Super Bowl session
• Ross gets sick as unified Giants face flu
• NFL not worried about spying
• Security high for Super Bowl
• Williams to be honored during Super Bowl
• Bootless Brady departs for Arizona
• Tickets reselling for average of $4,300
• Burress: Giants' receivers are better
Scouts Inc.• Roundtable: Seven scouts weigh in
• Super Bowl XLII X Factors
• Coaching comparison: Styles vary, results same
• Defensive line breakdowns
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 5)
• Matchups to watch in Super Bowl XLII
• Running-game breakdown
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 4)
• QB tale of the the tape
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 3)
• Ranking NFL QBs 1-64
• Take II on Super Bowl XLII
• Giants' DBs overmatched or underrated?
• Horton: Notes from film room (Day 2)
• Horton: 10 things to watch in SB XLII
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 1)
• A tale of two underrated O-lines
• Take I on Super Bowl XLII
• Players ranked Nos. 1-106
SportsNation• Vote: Which team will win?
• Vote: Who wins the head-to-head matchups?
• Vote: Which team are you rooting for?
• Conversation: Talk Super Bowl XLII
• Map: Which states are picking the Giants?
• Quiz: 42 Super Bowl history questions
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Hello from Arizona!
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Live from Media Day
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Live with oddsmaker
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Live with Matt Hasselbeck
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• Rank: Super Bowl's best individual performances
• Rank: Super Bowl coaches
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• Rank: Greatest all-time quarterbacks
• Vote: Potential for QB greatness?
• Quiz: Greatest quarterbacks
• ABCNews: Super Bowl or Super Tuesday?
• Chat Rewind: When did undefeated talk start?
• Vote: Can we proposition you?
• Pulse: What is SportsNation saying about XLII?