Editor’s Note: As part of WFAN’s 30th anniversary celebration, from May 29-June 9, we asked you to vote on the best local sports moments overthe past 30 years. Over the course of two weeks, we are revealing the top-10 vote getters.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When we came up with our list of 30 candidates for our poll on the best local sports moments since WFAN hit the air 30 years ago, we debated whether David Tyree’s “Helmet Catch” in Super Bowl XLII should be its own entry or be considered just one play in the bigger moment of the Giants stunning the previously unbeaten Patriots.
Doing the latter, however, would not have done justice to a play that some argue is the greatest catch in NFL history or the greatest play ever in a Super Bowl.
It happened Feb. 3, 2008, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. With 1:15 left in the game, the Giants were trailing 14-10 and faced a third-and-5 from their own 44-yard line.
Eli Manning found himself under intense pressure — the pocket was closing on him, Jarvis Green even had a fistful of his jersey. But Manning somehow escaped the crowd, backed up and then heaved up a pass toward the middle of the field. As the ball descended, the Giants’ David Tyree and the Patriots’ Rodney Harrison went up for it at the same time. Tyree, with his arms extended, grabbed the ball, but with Harrison tugging on his right arm, the wideout fought desperately to hold on by pressing the ball against his helmet as he fell to the turf.
No one watching could believe he didn’t drop it.
Not only did the catch keep the drive alive, it helped set up the game-winning score four plays later — a 13-yard pass from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress.
But that would not have been possible if it weren’t for Tyree.
And adding to the unlikeliness of the play was the fact that Tyree was a special teams contributor who had just four receptions in the regular season.
“There are going to be many people who have played or will continue to play that will have much more decorated careers,” Tyree told USA Today in 2015. “But by the grace of God — and I say that genuinely — I get a chance to be remembered as a part of the game.”