Who had the better catch? First we need to lay the ground rules for this process. This is based solely on the catch itself. There is no comparing the defining moment of a super bowl to a great play in regular season game. For the modern NFL fan we get to see every highlight as many times as our eyes will allow us to, so we can’t say it was better than something we don’t have video footage of from the days of leather helmets.
The Tyree catch in Super Bowl 42 was perhaps the greatest play in Super Bowl history. When you consider the matchup, the score, the down, the distance, and the player, this was perhaps the most improbable play, on the biggest stage, at the biggest moment. David Tyree was better known as a great special teams player before he pinned that ball to his helmet and became a Super Bowl hero. In the great play, the Giants are driving for the win against the 18-0 Patriots when Eli Manning is flushed from the pocket by a heavy Patriots pass rush, when he spots an open Tyree deep down the middle of the field. As the pass flies down the middle of the field you can see Rodney Harrison, one of the league’s most feared defenders, closing in on Tyree. Tyree perfectly times his jump so that his fully extended arms catch the ball at its highest possible point. A miss timed jump would have had the ball drop to the turf, he had to get it right. Then with Harrison hanging onto his arm and body, Tyree managed to pin the ball against his helmet and outmuscle Harrison for possession. The strength and concentration required to follow through on the catch and complete the play were nothing short of spectacular. That being said, it’s certainly not how you would normally try to catch a pass. It wasn’t a practiced skill…
Which brings us to Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday night football this week…
Eli Manning rolled out on a play action pass and saw Beckham Jr. running deep down the right sideline with single coverage. Manning threw for the pylon as Beckham Jr. somehow managed to tip toe the sideline without stepping out of bounds. This the first display of skill from Beckham Jr. on the play. His field awareness to know where the out of bounds line was without having to take his eyes off the ball allows him the opportunity to make the play. If he pauses to look down, the ball falls to the ground. As he tight ropes the sideline and passes Cowboys corner back Brandon Carr, Carr grabs at Beckham Jr. to prevent him from making a play on the ball with both hands (Pass interference flags flew in immediately). Beckham Jr. managed to turn his body just enough and extend his right arm back over his head and snatch the ball with just three fingers as he fell backwards into the end zone, against making sure he stayed inbounds. He doesn’t tip the ball up in the air and make the catch on the rebound, he catches the ball with three fingers and secures it to his body to complete the catch.
There have certainly been bigger plays in NFL history that are deservedly more famous, the immaculate reception, the ghost to the post, “The Catch” by Dwight Clark, and of course the helmet catch by Tyree. I would argue that none of them had the singular greatness and skill as Beckham Jr.’s play on Sunday night. Those are all great plays made greater by the moment, and a bit of luck, but when you isolate the plays for what they are out of the moment, Beckham Jr.’s catch stands alone.
I have been a sports junky since I was young, and have attended countless games. As a Giants season ticket holder I was at the game on Sunday night and I can say that I have never seen a crowd so mesmerized and in awe of a play in any sport like they were at that moment. Even the Dallas fans were blown away by the catch. When they showed the highlight for what seemed like the 200th time in the 4th quarter during a break in the action, the crowd still had the same reaction as when they first saw the play, “WOW!”. The best way I can sum up the play and why I think it’s the greatest catch I have ever seen is that Odell Beckham Jr. did something that I didn’t know was possible. In the age of 24 hour sports coverage and highlight shows, there aren’t many highlights that stand alone. In week 12 of a forgettable Giants season, a rookie wide receiver from LSU gave us something to remember.
We are asking our readers – Who made the greatest catch of all time, David Tyree in Super Bowl 42 or Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday night football this past Sunday?
Tell us what you think! Please comment with your opinion, and your name and email address.