David Tyree knows the meaning of never letting go. His leaping 32-yard catch, while clutching the football against his helmet, put the New York Giants in position score four plays later and upset the New England Patriots. We caught up with Tyree, who gave us a recap of his unforgettable Super Bowl catch.
"I came into the league as a sixth-round draft pick in 2003, so some people had limited expectations of me. But I was able to compete and be successful at my position. I did really well as a special-teams player for the Giants. I was always prepared and ready whenever I was needed. When [former Giants tight end] Jeremy Shockey went down with an injury toward the end of the 2007 season, we went to more wide receiver sets. That allowed me to get more playing time down the stretch. I've always been an optimist and someone who seeks big opportunities. I only had four receptions that season, but it was important to understand my role and fulfill it. And I did.
During the game-winning drive, third down and five [with 1:15 left in the game], I knew I had to get in the line of vision and be available for my quarterback, Eli Manning. He evaded the Patriots' pass rush and from there it was kind like a Chariots of Fire moment. Everything was in slow motion. I sized up the ball and remembered going up with two hands. I knew I had it. One hand was removed as I was falling backwards. I put that hand back on the ball and secured it against my helmet. It was just instinct. I was bracing myself for a collision, but thinking, 'I'm not going to let this thing go!' At the time, I didn't know the ball was on my head. It was all so fast. I knew it was a good catch, but I didn't think it was a historic catch by any means.
One emotion doesn't describe the catch. I experienced joy and sadness. It was painful and it was superb. My mother passed away almost two months before the game. But my faith was my anchor. It was during that game, I recognized the opportunity to go forth and honor my mother. A big part of my passion for football came from her. To have that moment was deeply satisfying. That's why awe is the only word I can use to sum it all up.
That reception was also my last in the NFL. It was a glorious moment that allowed me to leave an impression on the game. Since college [my mantra has been], ‘I’m not out here to be an average player. I want to be remembered.’ And now, I am."
Check out the rest of the Top Five Plays in Super Bowl History (according to SI Kids):
Photo: Damian Strohmeyer for Sports Illustrated