Where does Kearse’s catch rank in this list of all-time Super Bowl receptions? Take a look:
5. Butch Johnson’s fingertip grab
Dallas was ahead of Denver, 13-3, in Super Bowl XII, but probably should have had a bigger lead, and Cowboys fans were nervous that the Broncos would be able to crawl back into the contest. That all changed when Roger Staubach found Michael McColly “Butch” Johnson for a 45-yard scoring play.
Johnson split two Denver defenders, then laid out for a spectacular fingertip grab. The catch would probably have been overturned under today’s rules, and the Broncos argued at the time that the receiver had not maintained possession, but the play stood for a back-breaking score.
4. Lynn Swann’s leap
Super Bowl X was a highly anticipated showdown, as it featured, for the first time, two teams that had each already won one of them. Dallas was America’s Team, and Pittsburgh, with its imposing Steel Curtain defense, was shaping up as the perfect foil.
The game delivered a 21-17 thriller that is best remembered for Swann’s 53-yard catch from Terry Bradshaw. That play did not actually lead to any points, as the Steelers subsequently missed a field goal, but Swann’s balletic grace left a huge impression, as did his record 161 receiving yards, leading to him becoming the first wide receiver named Super Bowl MVP.
3. Jermaine Kearse’s flat-on-his-back reception
The Seahawks didn’t win, otherwise this grab might be No. 1. As it is, the amazing play will be talked about for years to come.
Seattle, in comeback mode with time running out, was desperately in need of a big play, and the wide receiver came through. The way Kearse caught the ball while on his back conjured memories of Antonio Freeman’s famous effort for the Packers on Monday night, but this occurred in a much more crucial situation.
2. Santonio Holmes’s game-winner
Arguably the most impressive play that led directly to a Super Bowl win, Holmes reached out to snag an expertly placed pass from Ben Roethlisberger, making sure to keep his toes in-bounds. The six-yard reception was enough to beat the Cardinals with 35 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIII.
Holmes lasted only one more season with Pittsburgh before the team tired of his off-field episodes and traded him to the Jets. The wide receiver proceeded to wear out his welcome in New York, but he’ll always be a hero to Steelers fans for that clutch performance.
1. David Tyree’s helmet catch
For sheer unlikeliness, this one can’t be topped. First of all, Eli Manning had to evade multiple sack attempts by Patriots defenders who had him in their grasps (cue New England fans’ outrage over all the holding that wasn’t called on the play).
Then, after Manning heaved the ball downfield, Tyree made a catch that he, or anyone else, probably couldn’t replicate if you gave him 100 more tries. With accomplished safety Rodney Harrison draped all over him, the wide receiver pinned the ball to his helmet, keeping it off the turf even as he got hauled to the ground.
The play set up the Giants’ shocking upset of the 18-0 Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Tyree was a fifth-year wide receiver who, before the game, had caught just five passes that whole season, including the playoffs.
Amazingly, Tyree never caught another pass in the NFL. He suffered a knee injury during the following training camp, was released by the Giants in 2009, then latched on with the Ravens for 10 reception-less games.