Throwback Thursday: The Helmet Catch

Super Bowl week in the sports media world is as big of a spectacle as it gets. In honor of the big game, this week’s edition of #TBT takes you back to Super Bowl XLII in 2008 for what the NFL Network ranks as the #1 Super Bowl play of all time: The Helmet Catch.



First off, let me paint the picture for you. On February 3, 2008, the New England Patriots took the field down in Phoenix, Ariz., looking to make history against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

Tom Brady and the Patriots were on an 18-game winning-streak and were chasing the perfect 19-0 season to cap off their tremendous year on offense in which they re-wrote the record books at the time. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos went on to break most of these; suck it Tom.

If you haven’t picked it up by now, I think Tom Brady is the antichrist (check out podcast episode Comments From The Peanut Gallery #2 for more).

Eli Manning and the wild-card Giants were not ready to see history made against them. The Giants were able to stifle the prolific offense, anchored around the connection of Brady to Randy Moss, and held them to just 14 points.

Eli displaying the now viral “Manning Face”. Photo by Twitter.

The Giants found themselves down 14-10 with just over 2:30 on the game clock, but Eli, in all his mouth-breathing glory, had ice in his veins.

Sure, none of this is even a story if Asante Samuel doesn’t drop the game sealing interception on the play before. Fortunately though for the Giants, Eli had enough lead in his pencil to overcome the adversity and make the biggest throw of his life. A throw in which he was met with an even bigger catch from his receiver David Tyree. Tyree was unknown outside of Giants circles and was primarily used on special teams. He had five catches on the season headed into the game, but all it took was one catch to immortalize the former 6th-round pick out of Syracuse in Super Bowl history.

New York’s David Tyree (#85) makes “The Helmet Catch” over New England’s Rodney Harrison (#37). Photo by ESPN.

The call to change it all was “76 Union Y Sail”. On 3rd down with 5 yards needed to reach a first down, Eli performed an incredible escape act from the pocket where he was all but wrapped up. Manning’s jersey nearly got torn off his torso while he escaped the pressure and rolled out to launch a missile downfield. Due to a jam early in the route, Tyree was re-routed to midfield where Manning was able to find him for a 32-yard completion.

Eli Manning (#10) escapes a near sack prior to completing a pass. Photo by

Tyree had Patriots’ Safety Rodney Harrison blast him with a full head of steam, but he was able to secure the reception, dubbed “The Helmet Catch”, by bracing the football up against his helmet. The Giants scored four plays later to upset the juggernaut Patriots 17-14.

While Tyree never caught another NFL pass in his career, this one reception was enough to make him into a household name. Tyree is now the Director of Player Development for the Giants.

-Jordan Kurtz AKA Kurtzy F is a founding member of Comments From The Peanut Gallery.


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