If you’re a kid, you’re going to be talking about this one for the rest of your life. If you’re a geezer, you’re going to have to shuffle your memories around, throw out whatever other Supe you had in the No. 1 slot and replace it with Giants 17, Patriots 14.
There have been bigger upsets, including the Patriots’ victory over the Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl. And no upset will ever be bigger than the Jets over the Colts in Super Bowl III in 1969. That win, guaranteed by Joe Namath, legitimized the old AFL and made its merger with the NFL the success story that it has been.
But I’m talking about the greatness of a game, and when you think of who was playing and what was involved and how it ended, nothing that has come before can match Super Bowl XLII.
It had everything — a first half filled with violent and smothering defense. A final quarter consisting of two great drives, the first by the master of the genre, Tom Brady, the second by the kid who wasn’t supposed to have the onions to be here, Eli Manning.
And in the middle of that winning drive was a catch that is as great as any ever seen in a game so big and a situation so critical. People have marveled at the Joe Montana-Dwight Clark connection to beat the Cowboys and propel the 49ers to their first championship. And now New York has its own version of “The Catch.”
Call it Manning-to-Tyree, with David Tyree, a backup’s backup, leaping as high as he could to catch a pass Manning thrown in desperation after escaping a sack on third-and-5 at his own 44. Safety Rodney Harrison, one of the greatest defensive backs in the game, also went up for the ball, and got his hands on it. He clawed desperately to wrench if from Tyree’s grasp, but the little-used special teamer refused to let go, coming down at the 24 with the game in his hands and 59 seconds left on the clock, which was 24 seconds more than the Giants would need to complete their incredible journey.
That Tyree caught it and not one of the Giants’ primary receivers, Plaxico Burress or Amani Toomer, just added to the magic of the moment. He was like the banjo-hitting infielder who wins the big game. So now Boston has another name to go with Bucky Bleeping Dent and Aaron Bleeping Boone — David Bleeping Tyree.
And just to add to the pain, Tyree caught the pass that scored the Giants’ first touchdown of the game –— it was his first touchdown catch of the season.
Had Giants coach Tom Coughlin ever seen a bigger catch in such a desperate situation?
“No, I have not,” he said, and he’s been involved in football for 45 years or more. “I don’t know that there’s ever been a bigger play in the Super Bowl,” he added. “At least not in my opinion.”
“That catch won us a Super Bowl trophy,” said Giants tackle Guy Whimper. “That catch is going down as No. 1 in my book.”
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