Santonio Holmes vs. David Tyree Super Bowl catches

The last two Super Bowls have given fans two of the greatest catches in NFL history.

It seemed that David Tyree’s amazing “helmet reception” in the Giants’ thrilling upset of the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl would never be topped given the magnitude of the game and the fact that it led to New York’s game-winning touchdown. But after Santonio Holmes’ amazing sideline grab in Super Bowl XLIII on Sunday night, maybe Tyree’s catch was bested.

What catch was better?

David Tyree’s against the Patriots:

Santonio Holmes’ against the Cardinals:

There truly isn’t a wrong answer here because both were freaking phenomenal. But if a gun were placed to my head and I had to choose one, I would go with Holmes’ catch against the Cardinals and not just because it was more recent.

The magnitude of both catches were both incredibly high, as well as the degrees of difficulty. Tyree had to fight with Rodney Harrison in midair just to catch the ball, then as it’s slipping from his grasp, press it against his helmet and make sure that it didn’t bounce out when the two players hit the ground. He also had to make sure that no part of the ball touched the turf, which is probably the most amazing part.

Holmes had to jump up, snag Ben Roethlisberger’s pass as it was heading out of bounds, use only his hands to make the catch, make sure both of his feet came down in bounds and as he was falling to the turf, make sure he remained in complete control. He also had to show immense concentration because three defenders were around him at the time.

Both were amazing, but I give the slight edge to Holmes because his catch actually scored the game-winning touchdown. I know Tyree’s led to the Giants’ game winning touchdown and without it, New York probably doesn’t win the game. But Holmes’s was officially worth six points, so I’m giving the nod to him.

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Holmes’ catch the best ever?

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Holmes’ catch the best ever?

Gregg Doyel of 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.

Officials confirm Warner’s fumble on final play

NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira confirmed after the Super Bowl that Kurt Warner did fumble on the Cardinals’ final play of the game.

Kurt Warner“I was really surprised on that one because I was definitely moving my arm forward to throw the ball,” Warner said. “I thought I’d almost gotten the ball off, so yeah, it does surprise you that in that kind of situation — five seconds to go to decide the Super Bowl — you would think it was something they’d do. But maybe somebody saw it clearly.”

According to NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira, the replay official upstairs did see the play clearly.
“We confirmed it was a fumble,” said Pereira. “The replay assistant in the replay booth saw it was clearly a fumble. The ball got knocked loose and was rolling in his hand before it started forward. He has to have total control.”

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt also was irked by the seemingly random ending.

“I was hoping it would be (reviewed),” he said. “I knew it was inside two minutes and it was a booth review. Obviously I would have liked to seen it replayed because it looked to me that Kurt was throwing the ball.”

The Cardinals had a difficult night with the officials. They were penalized 11 times for 106 yards. On one Steelers drive that ended with a field goal, Arizona was called for three personal fouls. The Cardinals also had to challenge two blown calls by the refs — one on a Ben Roethlisberger run that was initially ruled a touchdown, the other on an earlier incompletion that was initially ruled a fumble.

There is no doubt there were several questionable calls last night that went in the Steelers’ favor. The roughing the passer call on Karlos Dansby midway through the third quarter was brutal and as the article noted, the Cards had to challenge twice in order to get the correct call on two huge plays.

That said, I thought the penalties started to even out in the end. Not that the refs were trying to make up from previous calls, but no one can say that Pittsburgh didn’t get called for their fair share of penalties. Warner’s fumble still should have been reviewed, but at least Pereira came out and made the statement that the play would have stood as is had they went to the booth. (Not that that makes Arizona fans feel good or anything.)

Six Pack of Observations: Super Bowl XLIII

Here are six quick-hit thoughts from the Steelers’ 27-23 victory over the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

1. Santonio Holmes saved the Steelers.
Santonio Holmes saved the Steelers tonight. He saved Ben Roethlisberger from erratic play. He saved the usually stingy Pittsburgh defense from getting torched by Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald in the second half. He saved several of his teammates that decided to make costly penalties down the stretch. And he saved the Steelers from almost blowing a game they had control of for three quarters. Holmes was an easy choice for MVP and he was brilliant in Pittsburgh’s game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. True playmakers go above and beyond and that’s what Holmes did tonight. His touchdown catch was absolutely phenomenal and what a throw by Big Ben.

2. Why wasn’t the final play reviewed?
I’m confused – can an attempted forward pass not be reviewed by the booth in under two minutes? Because while it would have been a close call either way, Warner’s arm looked like it was coming forward on the final play of the game, which would have meant an incomplete pass and one last gasp for the Cardinals. And while it still would have been a long shot for ‘Zona to reach the end zone and win the game, I’m shocked the most important play wasn’t at least reviewed. Maybe the officials would have still come to the conclusion that Warner’s arm wasn’t coming forward and the fumble would have stood. But you’ve got to at least review it.

3. Harrison’s interception cannot be overlooked.
How fitting was it that the defensive player of the year came up with one of the biggest plays in the Super Bowl? James Harrison’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown before half changed the entire makeup of the game. Some may fault the Cards for not trying to run the ball in that situation because they were at the 1 yard line and had they got stuffed, they still would have had plenty of time to spike the ball and have one last attempt at a touchdown. But they were out of timeouts and with only 18 seconds on the clock, it’s hard to blame Arizona for throwing the ball; Warner just made a bad decision with the pass. But had the Cards at least kicked a field goal in that situation, it’s a 10-10 game at half and maybe the game plays out differently from that point on. Regardless, Harrison’s effort was outstanding and he truly wasn’t going to be denied. If it weren’t for the Cards’ fourth quarter comeback and Holmes’ amazing play down the stretch, Harrison would have been the game’s MVP.

4. Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t great, but he was once again clutch.
One of the post game commentators used the word “outstanding” to describe Roethlisberger’s play tonight. That’s a stretch. While it’s true Big Ben kept plays and drives alive several times by scrambling away from defenders, his indecisiveness and his penchant for holding onto the ball too long also led to a couple of key holding penalties against the Steelers in the fourth quarter, including the one that led to a safety. That said, he was once again clutch down the stretch. He zeroed in on his best playmaker (Holmes) and put the ball in his hands in order to make plays. Roethlisberger’s play wasn’t sharp by any means, but then again, it rarely is. But there’s no denying he makes plays when the game is on the line and he did so once again tonight. He now has two Super Bowl rings and he’s still only 26.

5. Get aggressive, Aaron Francisco.
On Holmes’ 40-yard reception to set up the Steelers’ game-winning touchdown, Arizona safety Aaron Francisco took a horrible angle on the play and it allowed the Pittsburgh receiver to race up the sideline and put his team in position for the go-ahead score. Granted Francisco eventually made the tackle down field, but it looked like he was playing not to make a mistake and it cost his team. It’s one thing to be caught out of position. It’s quite another to allow a receiver to easily make a catch in the open field, completely overrun the play and then allow him to race down the field. Safeties have one of the toughest jobs on the field because they have to play in so much open space. But Francisco’s effort on that play was questionable at best. (Outside of chasing Holmes down and eventually making the tackle, of course.) Francisco also was one of the defenders who was beat on the Holmes’ touchdown catch.

6. Do the Cardinals even need Anquan Boldin?
Anquan Boldin has been one of the most underrated receivers in the league for several years and there’s no doubt he deserves to get paid like a No. 1 receiver. But should Arizona bend over backwards in getting him a new contract when they already have Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston on the roster? How good was Breaston tonight? I realize he’s able to make more plays with Fitz and Boldin on the outside, but does anyone think Breaston doesn’t have the ability to be a No. 2 in this league after the way he played in 2008? Thanks to him, the Cardinals might be able to acquire multiple draft picks in a deal for Boldin this offseason.

Super Bowl XLIII Preview: Five reasons why the ________ will win

If Super Bowl XLII between the Giants and Patriots taught us anything, it’s that regular season records mean nothing and there are no guarantees when it comes to crowning a champion in the NFL.

The 17-0 Patriots looked like a slam-dunk to win the Super Bowl last January. That is, until a rowdy Giants bunch that played perfect football throughout the playoffs shocked most of the world en route to a 17-14 victory. Sound familiar?

No, the Steelers didn’t go 17-0 in the regular season. In fact, they were far from perfect and at times, looked awfully inconsistent. But with their No. 1 defense leading the way, it’s hard to argue that Pittsburgh doesn’t have the better overall talent heading into this year’s Super Bowl against the Cardinals, especially when you consider Arizona finished with a 9-7 record, competed in a crappy division and scored just one more point than they allowed this season.

But as the Giants proved last year, sometimes all it takes is momentum, which the Cards certainly have after soundly defeating the Falcons, Panthers and Eagles to get to Super Bowl XLIII. Arizona has a lot going for itself these days, including a resurgent veteran quarterback in Kurt Warner, a highlight reel playmaker in Larry Fitzgerald, and an underrated defense that is playing its best football of the season.

So who has the edge in Super Bowl XLIII? You can make a case for either team, which is exactly what I did. (Five of them actually.)

Below are five reasons the Cardinals will win on Sunday and five reasons why the Steelers will come away victorious. Contradictory? Sure, but play along – it’ll be more fun that way.

Read the rest after the jump...

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