One of the reasons the David Tyree catch has endured as one of the NFL’s greatest moments is that everything had to go exactly right for the New York Giants to make it happen.
And really, everything had to go right. Including referee Mike Carey, who officiated Super Bowl XLII, changing his position during the play.
Carey discussed the play with Yahoo Sports’ Tony Siragusa and a fascinating side note to history emerged. Carey explained that his usual position is behind the quarterback and to his front side. But the Patriots’ pass rush got to Eli Manning so quickly that Carey couldn’t see the quarterback from his normal position.
“For some reason, I don’t know why, I ran all the way around here to get to that window,” Carey said.
Carey illustrated that he ran up and around to Manning’s blind side, where he saw that Manning was being held back by the jersey. He said had he been in his normal spot, “I would have just seen him collapse into a pile.” Instead, he could see that Manning was working to get himself free. After Manning got free, he hit Tyree downfield for one of the most famous plays in sports history, and a few plays later the Giants scored the game-winning touchdown.
“Had I stayed here, I think the outcome would have been different,” Carey said. “I probably would have blown the whistle.”
Imagine how history would have changed. Had the play been whistled dead, the Giants would have faced fourth-and-long in their own territory. Tyree gained 32 yards on his helmet catch, and those yards were huge for the Giants to get into position to score. Had the Giants not saved themselves from fourth-and-long and scored after that, the Patriots would have won and finished 19-0. The 2007 Patriots would be universally viewed as the greatest team in NFL history, and perhaps sports history. Instead, Carey saw Manning wasn’t sacked, the play continued, we got the Tyree catch and that Patriots team lost its shot at immortality.
The Giants should feel fortunate that Carey moved to a different position to get a good look at what was going on with Manning.
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