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Best Play In Super Bowl History?

Since the Super Bowl ended, many pundits and fans alike have stated that James Harrison’s interception return for a touchdown was the greatest play ever in Super Bowl history.

James Harrison

James Harrison

But I just don’t see it.

It was an excellent play, to be sure, but best ever?  While I appreciate that the interception helped prevent a Cardinals touchdown–and more importantly Cardinals momentum–I don’t regard that play as the best ever.

For starters, it happened at the end of the second half.  This wasn’t with two minutes to go in the fourth quarter.  Second, while an interception return for a touchdown is incredible, I’ve seen Ed Reed this season have more spectacular interception returns than the Harrison scamper down the sideline.  In my eyes, that play was more of an indictment of Arizona’s inability to tackle a linebacker running out of gas.

I’d argue that Rams linebacker Mike Jones stopping Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson on the very last play of regulation in Super Bowl XXXIV was much better.  The Titans needed a touchdown to tie the game and send it into overtime.  Mike Jones, a relative unknown, prevented Kevin Dyson from gaining the extra yard that he needed.  Despite Steve McNair’s efforts on that drive, the Titans came up one yard short.  Ironically, weeks before, the Titans had benefited from the Music City Miracle–a play that essentially came down to whether the lateral from Frank Wycheck to (oddly enough) Kevin Dyson was indeed a lateral or forward pass.  Was it a yard forward or behind?  Well, weeks later in the Super Bowl, it was clearly one yard short.

Kevin Dyson

Kevin Dyson

In my opinion, though, last year’s catch by David Tyree was the best in Super Bowl history.  In fact, NFL Films President Steve Sabol wrote an NFL.com article about it last season.

The Giants were all that stood in the way of the Patriots being immortalized for all time.  Down 14-10, it’s 3rd and 5 at the Giants 44 yard line.  There’s one minute and fifteen seconds left in the game.  Manning takes the snap and finds a way to elude the grasp of  Jarvis Green and Adalius Thomas.  Manning hails the ball down the middle of the field, and a wide receiver that nobody heard of battles with a Hall of Fame safety in Rodney Harrison.  Tyree pins the ball to his helmet while falling backwards.  He holds onto the football.  First down, Giants.

Just four plays later, Manning hits Burress in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.  The rest is history.

For my money, that’s easily the best play in Super Bowl history.  It had drama and significant ramifications, but more importantly, it left you in awe.  After an entire year, I still cannot understand how 1) Eli Manning was not sacked, forcing an almost impossible fourth down attempt and 2) how David Tyree–who only caught four passes in the regular season and whom teammates stated was dropping passes all week in practice leading up the big game–could find a way to hold onto the football in such a tough, high stakes situation.

February 5, 2009 - Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL | , , , , , , , ,

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