One particular of the most amazing catches in Super Bowl heritage occurred late in the fourth quarter final year in Houston. Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons bobbled the downfield pass but managed to contort himself though slipping and cradled the ball right before he, and it, struck the floor.
The play was revealed numerous periods on the Fox telecast, and the announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman marveled at Jones’s skill, concentration and body handle. That implausible sideline reception, the best of Jones’s embellished profession, positioned the Falcons, who ended up main by 8 factors with a tiny additional than 4 minutes remaining, for a victory-sealing rating that by no means arrived.
Rather, the New England Patriots done their comeback from a 28-three deficit with a match-tying acrobatic catch from Julian Edelman that matched Jones’s artistry and — reasonable minds can surely disagree in this article — that pretty effectively may perhaps have exceeded it.
The Patriots’ 34-28 additional time victory catapulted Edelman’s reception into the pantheon of clutch performs. But it also consigned Jones’s exertion to a peculiar specialized niche in Super Bowl lore, just one exactly where magnificent times are eclipsed and erased by the greatness of other individuals.
Two decades right before Jones soared higher than New England cornerback Eric Rowe, Jermaine Kearse practically willed the Seahawks to a late win in excess of the Patriots with a deep sideline grab that strained credulity.
“If we experienced received the Super Bowl and you likely experienced the best catch, that would have been brilliant,” Kearse claimed in October. “Now it is variety of like a overlooked play.”
Ricky Proehl, Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald also manufactured signature performs that ended up devalued by the game’s end result. Proehl, improbably, endured the reversal of fortune two times.
At least he experienced previously received a Super Bowl, so experienced Kearse. Moss by no means bought a ring, and Fitzgerald, like Jones, is continue to waiting around.
“I actually thought it was sufficient to be able to propel us to victory,” Fitzgerald claimed, recalling his 64-property, go-forward landing for the Arizona Cardinals from the Pittsburgh Steelers with 2 minutes 37 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLIII. “For likely, say, 5 minutes in genuine, genuine time,” he included, “I thought I was heading to be a Super Bowl champion. And then, I wasn’t.”
Super Bowl XLIII
LARRY FITZGERALD, CARDINALS
‘You Broke My Coronary heart, Man’
Fitzgerald caught a short pass from Kurt Warner, lose a tackle by midfield and dashed the final fifty yards untouched for a landing, his next in fewer than 5 minutes, to set Arizona forward for the initially time in Super Bowl XLIII from Pittsburgh.
What took place just after that?
“We can skip this section,” Fitzgerald claimed as he fiddled with some fried chicken in the Cardinals’ cafeteria, in Tempe, Ariz., late final year. He paused a beat. “I’m just messing with you.”
The memory of dropping that Super Bowl, on a landing catch by Santonio Holmes, continue to gnaws at Fitzgerald. Nine decades afterwards, and approaching the conclude of a luminous profession devoid of one more Super Bowl physical appearance, he claimed he took “nothing positive” from the encounter past the preparation.
“Everything was good,” Fitzgerald claimed, “until the final two minutes.”
That is not totally correct. For the initially 45 minutes of the only Super Bowl physical appearance in Cardinals heritage, Fitzgerald was smothered by cornerback Ike Taylor and security Troy Polamalu, and he caught just just one pass for twelve yards. And Arizona trailed by thirteen factors halfway by the fourth quarter.
And, with the Cardinals trailing by 10-7 with the ball on the Pittsburgh one-property line and eighteen seconds remaining right before halftime, Steelers linebacker James Harrison dipped in front of receiver Anquan Boldin on the aim line to intercept a Warner pass and return it a hundred yards for a landing.
“That was the play that killed us,” claimed Fitzgerald, who, inspite of remaining shoved out of bounds by Polamalu on that play, caught up to Harrison at the 5, but couldn’t drag him down in time to avert the landing. “You’re pondering the worst-case scenario is you get three factors. The worst that could happen to us at that stage was we do not rating a landing but we get three and go into halftime. Never ever in a million decades, under any situation, do I assume of all men and women a 270-pound linebacker would lumber a hundred yards for a landing to go into the fifty percent.”
Arizona then scored sixteen factors in four:fifty six all through the fourth quarter, on a security and two touchdowns by Fitzgerald, the next of which he could foresee at the line of scrimmage.
With the Steelers’ safeties split deep, Fitzgerald ran a slant and realized he could exploit the center of the industry, which was remaining open up, if he beat Taylor on the route, which he did. Catching the ball at his personal 43, Fitzgerald ran away from a diving Taylor. Fitzgerald glanced at the big video clip monitor higher than him to detect the 3 defenders in pursuit, but he understood they would by no means get him.
When Warner jogged to the sideline, he heard teammates yelling that they experienced just received the Super Bowl. For the initially time in the match, Arizona led, 23-20.
“Everybody was celebrating, but I understood there was a full bunch of time remaining,” Warner, now an analyst for NFL Community, claimed in a phone job interview. “Yet you glance back and that was likely the initially time in the heritage of the sport exactly where any one claimed to themselves, ‘The Arizona Cardinals are heading to be globe champions.’ There is good delight in that.”
It was Fitzgerald’s seventh landing of the postseason, an N.F.L. record, but like Warner he thought that 2:37 was a great deal of time for Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to convey his workforce back.
The Steelers went seventy eight yards in 8 performs. On the seventh play, from the Arizona six, Roethlisberger whipped a pass that sailed by the palms of a leaping Holmes. On the subsequent play, Holmes, triple-lined, arrived down with a toe-faucet catch in a back corner of the conclude zone with 35 seconds remaining. As the play was remaining reviewed, NBC cameras showed Fitzgerald expressing, “Noooooooooo.”
“I desire he would have caught the initially just one, due to the fact it would have remaining additional time on the clock for us,” Fitzgerald claimed. “Two additional seconds, it’s possible we’d be able to rating.”
Standing on the sideline all through the Steelers’ push, Fitzgerald keenly felt a reduction of handle.
“The hardest section for me in the Super Bowl — if I would have shed the match with the offense on the industry, driving down, and they would have stopped us, I could are living with that,” he claimed. “I experienced my chance. I was on the industry. I experienced my opportunity to decide the end result of the match. But I experienced as substantially influence on the final section of that match as you experienced sitting at property looking at it.”
The Cardinals did get the ball back with 29 seconds remaining, and Fitzgerald obtained 20 yards on the initially play. But just after Arizona arrived at as significantly as the Steelers’ forty four, Warner was strip-sacked, and Pittsburgh recovered.
In excess of the decades, Fitzgerald has attended charity functions with Holmes, like signing up for him on journeys to Africa. They are welcoming, he claimed, but that does not signify Fitzgerald has forgiven him.
“Every time I see him,” Fitzgerald claimed, “I’m often like, ‘You broke my coronary heart, guy.’”
Super Bowls XXXVI AND xxxviii
RICKY PROEHL, RAMS AND panthers
‘That Ill Feeling’
Ricky Proehl was semiretired in November 2006, coaching Pop Warner football and executing television and radio for the St. Louis Rams, when the Indianapolis Colts named. They desired a receiver.
That meant catching passes from Peyton Manning for a Super Bowl contender. It also meant sharing a locker area with a guy whom Proehl experienced claimed he preferred by no means to see once again.
That guy, Adam Vinatieri, ruined his Super Bowl desires — two times. Before signing with Indianapolis, Vinatieri booted two final-next industry objectives to win championships for New England. Both equally periods, Proehl experienced caught match-tying touchdowns in the final ninety seconds — just one for St. Louis (from Warner, seven decades right before he went to the Super Bowl as a Cardinal), the other for Carolina.
“You go from a hero to no just one remembers,” Proehl, who did not react to many requests for an job interview, advised reporters just after Carolina’s reduction. “You make a few of significant performs at the conclude like I did two decades ago, you are superior as a kite, and a moment afterwards, it doesn’t signify anything.”
Proehl, who did not surface in a playoff match all through his initially nine N.F.L. seasons, experienced the euphoria of winning a title in his 10th, when, propelled by his winning landing in the N.F.C. championship match, the Rams outlasted the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV in the 1999 season. Two seasons afterwards, the Rams thought they ended up headed toward a next title — as 14-stage favorites from New England and a 24-year-old quarterback named Tom Brady.
With their receivers stymied by the Patriots’ physical protection, the Rams trailed by 14 in the fourth quarter but scored two times in 3 possessions to tie the rating at 17-17. Proehl was remaining open up when Isaac Bruce, who lined up on the outside subsequent to him, darted inside of and drew both Patriots defensive backs to him. Proehl caught a pass from Warner at the 15-property line. He sidestepped Patriots security Tebucky Jones and dove into the conclude zone for a 26-property landing with one:30 remaining.
Proehl claimed afterward that, in that minute, he thought the Rams ended up heading to win. They did not fear Brady due to the fact there was not substantially but to fear.
“He hadn’t actually accomplished anything in the playoffs to make you assume, ‘Oh, he’s heading to do this,’” Warner claimed not too long ago. “At the time, we ended up even thinking if they ended up even heading to check out. We experienced obtained the momentum in the next fifty percent, and we ended up just hoping that they ended up heading to kneel it down and go into additional time due to the fact we didn’t experience like they could end us at that stage. It is section of the purpose why they decided to go for it.”
In a push that introduced a dynasty, Brady led New England fifty three yards, and Vinatieri split the uprights from 48 yards as time expired.
Proehl invested one more season with the Rams right before signing with Carolina, which entered the Super Bowl in February 2004, the initially in franchise heritage, as 7-stage underdogs. The Panthers trailed the full next fifty percent until quarterback Jake Delhomme guided them 80 yards in one:43, two times discovering Proehl for important catches. On the next, Proehl slipped cost-free on a write-up route past a New England blitz and grabbed a twelve-property landing with one:08 remaining.
Proehl understood that 68 seconds ended up much too quite a few to enable Brady and Vinatieri, specially just after New England bought a short industry when John Kasay’s kickoff went out of bounds. With all 3 timeouts remaining, New England experienced the ball at its forty.
“I commenced obtaining that ill feeling,” Proehl claimed. “All they desired was twenty five or 30 yards.”
The Patriots bought additional than that. They obtained 37, environment up Vinatieri for a forty one-yarder. Earlier, he experienced shanked a 31-yarder and experienced a 36-yarder blocked. On the sideline, Proehl claimed afterwards, he understood Vinatieri was heading to drill this just one.
The odds of that precise scenario — scoring a late landing, succumbing to a winning kick by Vinatieri — going on two times in 3 seasons, to the exact same human being, are incomprehensible.
When Proehl arrived in Indianapolis, he sought out Vinatieri, and they fashioned a speedy friendship. Proehl played in only two normal-season online games, catching 3 passes, and none in the postseason, when the Colts arrived at Super Bowl XLI from the Chicago Bears. Earn or get rid of, Proehl claimed, he would conclude his profession. Heading into the match — a 29-17 Colts victory — he mirrored on his peculiar partnership with the guy who experienced denied him two rings.
“I desire he was a jerk so I could hate him, but he’s a tremendous guy, the ultimate specialist, and it is neat now to be his teammate,” Proehl advised reporters in 2007. “If you just can’t beat him, join him.”
Super Bowl XLIX
JERMAINE KEARSE, SEAHAWKS
‘Like Practically nothing Happened’
In retrospect, Kearse claimed, the craziest point about his shake-the-sleep-out-of-your-eyes catch for Seattle in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 was not the catch itself. It was his response afterward.
“I just walked back like very little took place,” Kearse claimed. “I do snicker about that.”
What actually took place, as seen by thousands of incredulous onlookers at the College of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., and hundreds of thousands additional all over the globe looking at on television, was a ball that, just after leaving quarterback Russell Wilson’s right hand at the New England 45-property line, did the adhering to:
■ Traveled about 35 yards right before striking Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler’s palms as he and Kearse fell backward.
■ Caromed, on its descent, off Kearse’s remaining groin, then his right, as he lay supine.
■ Clanked two times off Kearse’s right hand as Patriots security Duron Harmon, practically kicking the ball, leapt in excess of him.
■ Nestled, eventually, in Kearse’s right hand on a 3rd exertion.
Cradling the ball, Kearse turned onto his remaining side and bought up, right before Butler shoved him out of bounds at the 5 to end the clock with one:06 remaining. Kearse claimed he by no means heard the group erupt. Nor did he see Harmon, who on Wednesday claimed that he continue to regrets not remaining able to end Kearse from generating the catch.
Kearse maintains he would have scored if he experienced been struggling with the conclude zone and not the sideline. Rather, he just headed back toward his teammates — no celebrations or gesticulations, not even a fist pump.
“How did I catch it? It is like — honestly, I do not know,” claimed Kearse, repeating a problem he has been requested hundreds of periods in the final 3 decades. “I signify, it is not like a usual catch. I keep in mind viewing the ball bounce all over and I just tried to grab it. I couldn’t even reveal to you how I caught some other catches. There is been balls that I caught exactly where you glance at the image and my eyes are closed.”
NBC cameras centered on two gentlemen in different states of disbelief: Seahawks owner Paul Allen, who gaped, and Brady, who shook his head. The Patriots continue to led by 28-24, but they experienced been burned in two other Super Bowls by magnificent late receptions — both by Giants, Mario Manningham in Indianapolis in 2012 and David Tyree in Glendale in 2008 — and in that minute, it seemed eminently attainable that it could, would, happen once again.
But two snaps afterwards, just after a four-property run by Marshawn Lynch took Seattle to the one, the Seahawks ran just one of the most infamous performs in Super Bowl heritage. Instead than hand the ball to Lynch once again, they named a pass play.
Kearse lined up to Wilson’s right. As the Patriots’ Brandon Browner jammed Kearse, receiver Ricardo Lockette slipped inside of. Butler rushed forward from the conclude zone, swooped in front of Lockette at the aim line and intercepted the pass, securing the Patriots’ victory and condemning the Seahawks’ coaches to countless next-guessing.
And relegating Kearse’s catch to a footnote.
With the Seahawks, he solid a status for shining all through the postseason. So substantially so that when Kearse, now a Jet, sat down for an job interview on the matter final slide he requested which good catch he’d be conversing about.
Kearse experienced a feeling, even though, that it was not the contested ball he experienced snared for the go-forward landing, on fourth and 7 from the San Francisco 35, in the final quarter of the N.F.C. championship match 4 decades ago. Or one more 35-property rating, this just one in additional time with Tramon Williams of the Inexperienced Bay Packers draped in excess of him, in the N.F.C. championship the adhering to year, granting Seattle the chance to defend its Super Bowl title from New England.
No, he was requested to speak about the hardest catch — the just one that, in the conclude, didn’t issue.
“If we would have received, I assume it likely would have been the best Super Bowl catch ever,” Kearse claimed. “But we shed.”
Super Bowl XLII
RANDY MOSS, PATRIOTS
‘I Nevertheless Sit There and Wonder’
Just after catching a late landing pass in Super Bowl XLII that pushed the Patriots to the brink of an undefeated 2007 season and a fourth championship in seven seasons, Randy Moss plopped on the New England bench to hold out, and hope.
Beside him ended up two other receivers, Jabar Gaffney and Donté Stallworth. There they sat as Eli Manning directed the Giants down the industry as cornerback Asante Samuel unsuccessful to intercept a pass that bounced off his palms as Tyree caught a ball from his helmet and as Plaxico Burress, capitalizing on solitary protection, arrived at the conclude zone and deprived Moss of glory. The Giants received, 17-14, in just one of the finest upsets in Super Bowl heritage.
“We ended up in disbelief at some of the things that took place that ended up uncharacteristic of our workforce,” Stallworth claimed in a phone job interview. “At the exact same time, we only scored 14 factors that match. There is no way that offense really should have scored 14 factors.”
That offense experienced scored the most factors and amassed the most yardage in the normal season, at the rear of the league’s most prolific quarterback-receiver mixture. Moss, in his initially season with New England, experienced caught ninety eight passes from Brady for one,493 yards and a league-record 23 touchdowns.
Brady’s precision humbled defenses all season — until the Super Bowl, exactly where he and the Patriots ended up humbled themselves by the Giants’ relentless blitzes. By means of the initially 3 quarters, Brady and Moss connected only as soon as, for eighteen yards. Halfway by the fourth, with New England trailing by 10-7, Brady two times found Moss for initially downs, then seemed his way once again on 3rd and aim from the Giants’ six-property line.
Moss shook off cornerback Corey Webster so really hard at the line of scrimmage that Webster fell, and just after that, Moss obtained simple entry into the conclude zone to set New England forward, 14-10, with 2:42 remaining.
“Once Randy scored that landing, at least on the offense, we figured just one of two things,” Stallworth claimed. “We figured that the defense would end them. Or, that if in the unlucky function that they went down and bought some factors and scored a landing, that we would have to answer. We ended up completely ready to do that possibly way.”
The Patriots’ normal-season dominance belied the worries they experienced faced, tests that steeled them for a tense final two minutes. Brady experienced led 4 fourth-quarter comebacks, all in the season’s next fifty percent, like the finale on the highway from the Giants. In that match, 5 weeks right before the Super Bowl, he and Moss connected on a sixty five-property landing that erased a 5-stage deficit.
“Belichick would by no means permit us assume that we ended up far better than any groups,” Stallworth claimed, referring to Patriots Mentor Monthly bill Belichick. “I keep in mind when we ended up participating in the Dolphins, we ended up undefeated, they hadn’t received a match, and he manufactured us experience heading into the match like he does every 7 days. Like if we do not play our A-plus match, we’re absolutely heading to get rid of. He scares you into believing that you can get rid of every match.”
Moss did not react to many makes an attempt to arrive at him by ESPN, exactly where he works as an analyst. But in an job interview final June on “The Dan Patrick Demonstrate,” Moss claimed that he experienced initially sensed risk when Samuel, covering Tyree alongside the sideline, could not hold onto the pass that struck his palms.
“Only point Asante experienced to do was catch the ball, get his two toes in — Super Bowl champions,” Moss claimed. He included, “When he skipped that ball, realizing that was like a schedule interception, which is when I understood we ended up in difficulty.”
On the subsequent snap, Manning barely escaped the Patriots’ rush and specific Tyree, who manufactured just 4 catches in the normal season but experienced scored the Giants’ only landing of the day. Tyree jumped in front of security Rodney Harrison, pinning the ball from his helmet as he fell backward, for a 32-property reception that gave the Giants a initially down at the New England 24 with 59 seconds remaining. Four performs afterwards, Manning lofted a fade to Burress in the conclude zone.
“I understood we continue to experienced time,” Moss claimed, and the Patriots did: 29 seconds to shift about forty yards and into Stephen Gostkowski’s industry-aim range.
Just after an incompletion and a sack, New England faced 3rd and 20 from its sixteen. In the huddle, Moss claimed, Brady retained reminding them that they experienced time, then advised Moss what play they would run. It was the exact same phone, Stallworth claimed, that resulted in Moss’s go-forward landing from the Giants in December.
“He claimed we ended up functioning an in excess of route — like 3 deeps and they ended up heading to run me on the in excess of,” Moss claimed. “So I’m on the bottom by myself. Tom tells me, ‘Randy, run the in excess of and as shortly as I glance back at you, you beeline and consider it back superior angle to the corner.’ So when Tom looks at me, I consider off.”
Brady introduced a pass that traveled virtually 70 yards in the air. Moss, tracked by Webster and security Gibril Wilson, slowed down and arrived at up just as Webster did. The ball caromed off both players’ fingertips.
“I skipped the ball,” Moss claimed. “I was worn out, and continue to until this day I continue to sit there and marvel what could I have accomplished different to be able to check out and catch that ball. My specialty was heading deep.”
Moss claimed that he experienced run additional in that match than in any other all through his profession, and that it took him a number of weeks to prevail over the soreness.
Stallworth claimed of Brady and Moss: “I figured we experienced two of the best players to ever play the match, and if anyone’s heading to do it, it is heading to be those two dudes. But even if Randy does catch that ball, we do not have any timeouts remaining. If he receives tackled inbounds, the game’s in excess of.”
He claimed he desired about 3 weeks right before he could convey himself to observe the highlights. When he eventually did, he screamed an expletive in the airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on viewing Tyree’s catch.
“It’s one thing that you do not hope from possibly Eli or David Tyree,” Stallworth claimed. “But which is what the Super Bowl does. One particular play can make you are living in Super Bowl folklore for the rest of your lifetime.”