As we approach Super Bowl LIII, there are many rankings of the top Super Bowl quarterbacks or Super Bowl MVPs. But right now, let’s look at the best Super Bowl catches of this century. This isn’t necessarily about which catches had the most impact on the game (although that does play a factor). If a player made an incredible catch but history forgets it because they lost the game, that catch will still be on this list.
Here are the best Super Bowl catches of the 21st century:
5. Jermaine Kearse – Super Bowl XLIX
Kearse was a solid receiver with the Seahawks but never a big name. Now, he is a solid receiver on the Jets and still not a big name. However, he made one of the craziest, and almost one of the most iconic, catches in Super Bowl history.
The Seattle Seahawks were down four points with about a minute left in the Super Bowl. They were on the Patriots 38 yard line, but needed to finish their drive quickly with a touchdown. When Russell Wilson threw the ball up to the sideline and Malcolm Butler batted it down, it seemed like the play was over. But before the ball touched the ground, it bounced off Jermaine Kearse’s legs and into the air. Kearse caught the ball at the seven-yard line and after Butler tackled him at the five, Seattle had a first and goal.
While Wilson ended the game by throwing a goal-line interception, Kearse’s catch was still one of the most clutch in Super Bowl history. It took incredible concentration and gave the Seahawks a great chance to win the game.
4. Julian Edelman – Super Bowl LI
Julian Edelman’s playoff stats would surprise most people. He isn’t at the top of NFL receiver rankings, however, he consistently makes catches in big playoff moments. Edelman has the second most playoff receptions of all time and is 44 yards away from the second most playoff receiving yards. His catch in Super Bowl LI took incredible concentration and was huge in deciding the outcome of the game.
Down eight points with just over two minutes left in the Super Bowl, Tom Brady’s pass was batted down. But after Falcons cornerback Robert Alford’s deflection, Julian Edelman dove to the ball, trying to keep it off the ground. Edelman kept perfect focus and picked up the ball off a Falcons defender’s leg, with only a sliver of air between the ball and the ground. He picked up a key 23 yard gain which helped kickstart the Patriots’ game-tying drive.
3. Julio Jones – Super Bowl LI
Julio Jones is arguably the best receiver in the NFL right now; this year, he broke Randy Moss’s record for most receiving yards by a player in their 20s. In the 2016 season’s playoffs, he was terrific with 334 yards and three touchdowns in three games. The best catch of the playoffs, and maybe his best catch ever, came in Super Bowl 51 against the Patriots.
Julio made a ridiculous reception at the opposing 24-yard line and gave his team a first down. Flying in the air, Julio stretched out to catch the ball and somehow got both of his feet on the edge of the grass. It put the Falcons in field goal range and should have closed the game. With only four and a half minutes remaining and up eight points, all Atlanta needed to do was kick a field goal to put the game out of reach. While the field goal didn’t happen, Julio’s catch still lives on as one of the most fantastic catches of our time.
2. David Tyree – Super Bowl XLII
Of all the best Super Bowl catches, people will most likely remember David Tyree’s the most, at least for a while. Not only did Giants quarterback Eli Manning escape three potential sacks, but Tyree caught the ball by pinning it to his helmet in between three defenders. The absolute difficulty of this play is unbelievable, but it happened.
After Brady had just thrown a touchdown to Randy Moss, giving the Patriots a four-point lead, the Giants needed to answer. David Tyree’s shocking catch kickstarted a drive that ended in a Plaxico Burress touchdown reception to win the game. The Giants handed Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their first Super Bowl loss and claimed their third title in franchise history. Tyree’s catch will surely live on as one of the improbable catches in NFL history.
1. Santonio Holmes – Super Bowl XLIII
All of these catches were incredible. But of all the best Super Bowl catches of this century, Holmes’ combined pure skill and clutch-ness at the highest level. The Steelers receiver was already having a fantastic Super Bowl performance with eight catches for 124 yards. However, the Steelers were at second and goal down at the seven-yard line, down by three points. If they kicked the field goal, Pittsburgh would have risked giving the ball back to Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in overtime.
Santonio Holmes, though, had other intentions. He did not let the game get to overtime with his jaw-dropping, perfectly-timed, toe-tap catch in the end zone. His catch won the game and gave the Steelers their sixth Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
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