The Super Bowl was made for moments. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s the stage where — for better or worse — NFL players are presented with an opportunity to leave their mark on history. Sometimes they choke. Sometimes the stage is simply too big and they’re unable to rise to the occasion. But that’s not always the case. Other times, individuals, when presented with the chance at immortality, reach up, grab it, and make the catch of a lifetime.
Throughout history, the Super Bowl has seen its fair share of unbelievable catches. However, under closer examination, some of these plays have managed to stand out among the rest. Perhaps when the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots meet in Super Bowl 51, we’ll be able to add another one to the list. Yet, until that time comes, in our opinion, these are the five greatest catches in the history of the Super Bowl.
5. Jevon Kearse catches it on his back
Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24
Had the Seattle Seahawks managed to come back to defeat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, we probably would’ve put Jevon Kearse‘s catch higher up on the list. That being said, this was still a remarkable individual effort. We can only imagine the concentration — and athleticism — it must’ve taken to be able to catch this pass while lying on his back. Remarkable. Too bad Seahawks coach Pete Carroll ruined everything by not giving Beast Mode the ball on the one-yard line.
4. Mario Manningham’s sideline catch
Super Bowl XLVI: Giants 21, Patriots 17
Speaking of concentration, how in the world did Mario Manningham make this sideline catch? We understand that it was a perfect throw by Eli Manning, but still, No. 82 knew he was going to get lit up on this play. And yet, he still managed to haul it in (in traffic), get both feet down, and hang on to the ball. We truly believe that the New York Giants don’t defeat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI if Manningham doesn’t make this grab. But he did, and the rest is just history.
3. Lynn Swann makes the acrobatic grab
Super Bowl X: Steelers 21, Cowboys 17
In Super Bowl X against the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh wide receiver Lynn Swann put together one of the greatest offensive performances in Super Bowl history. With four catches, 161 receiving yards, and one touchdown grab, the Hall of Famer earned MVP honors and helped the Steelers pull off the 21-17 victory. And while his overall effort was the stuff of legends, the acrobatic catch Swann made in the game’s second quarter was, hands down, his standout moment. There aren’t many people who could’ve made that 53-yard reception off the rebound. But let’s be real, there aren’t many people like Swann.
2. David Tyree’s helmet catch
Super Bowl XLII: Giants 17, Patriots 14
The Patriots were on the cusp of a 19-0 season when Giants QB Eli Manning escaped the pocket — and what looked like a surefire sack — and heaved the ball downfield, where receiver David Tyree made a once-in-lifetime catch by pinning the ball against his helmet. It was the sort of play that’s just not supposed to happen. But it did. And without it, New York does not upset New England in Super Bowl XLII.
1. Santonio Holmes for the win
Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23
On second-and-goal from the Arizona six-yard line, down 23-20 with 43 seconds left to play in Super Bowl XLIII, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took the snap, bought some time, and launched the ball into the back corner of the end zone. In traffic, Pittsburgh receiver Santonio Holmes reached up, snagged the pass, and, somehow, managed to get both feet down. Touchdown Steelers. Pittsburgh would win the game, Holmes would be named MVP, and this catch would go down as the greatest the Super Bowl had ever seen.
Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference