Holmes’ catch the best ever?

Gregg Doyel of CBSSportsline.com writes that Santonio Holmes’ game-winning touchdown grab was the best catch in NFL history.

Santonio HolmesYou can’t dispute that Pittsburgh receiver Santonio Holmes, given the stakes and the degree of difficulty, just gave us the greatest catch in the history of professional football — a 6-yard, leaping, tightrope grab in the back corner of the end zone with 35 seconds left to give the Steelers a 27-23 victory Sunday night against Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII.

The ball was high, and heading out of bounds. Holmes wasn’t merely going to have to make a leaping catch — that’s routine enough; Holmes himself said later that he didn’t leap, but he did a little bit — but he had to make a leaping catch as his momentum was taking him out the side door near the back of the end zone. Leap, focus on the ball long enough to make the catch, then forget about the hands and worry about the feet. Get them down, both of them, because this isn’t Ohio State, son. Two feet down in the NFL, or it’s no catch.

Do all that … oh, and did we mention this is the Super Bowl? And that there is less than a minute left? That the other team leads 23-20?

Doyel goes onto compare Holmes’ catch to Lynn Swann’s in Super Bowl X and David Tyree’s in last year’s Super Bowl.

Swann and Tyree made their catches in the Super Bowl, so they’re still in the running. I guess. But neither guy made his catch in the end zone. Neither guy scored on the play. Swann made the prettiest catch we’ve ever seen, and Tyree made one of the most difficult catches we’ve ever seen, but they came in the middle of the field. Tyree’s grab led to the winning touchdown, true, but it didn’t score it. So give Swann credit for being a ballerina in cleats, and applaud Tyree for making one of the most ridiculous catches you’ve ever seen.

But don’t compare their non-scoring catches to what Holmes did — not just in the end zone in the Super Bowl, but in the final minute with his team trailing 23-20.

I don’t find myself saying this too often but I actually agree with Doyel. I didn’t think that anything could top Tyree’s catch last year considering the degree of difficulty in which he had to hang onto the ball by pressing it against his helmet while he was falling to the ground and wrestling with Rodney Harrison at the same time. But if you were like me last night when Holmes caught that ball you said, “No way – no way was he in.” But he was and it was incredible.

Holmes had to use his hands and his hands only to snag that ball. Not only that, but he also had three defenders around him and while Roethlisberger’s pass was placed in a spot only Holmes could catch it, it was still sailing well out of bounds when the Steeler wideout snagged it out of the air. And as Doyel points out, when you factor in the magnitude of the game and the fact that Holmes had to get two feet down while his momentum was being carried out of bounds, it all adds up to the greatest catch ever.

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