Skip Bayless has never given the New York Football Giants credit when it is due.
It could be his well-documented love affair with the Dallas Cowboys or New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Regardless of the reason, Bayless has never had too many good things to say about the Giants or their quarterback, Eli Manning, even when they won two Super Bowls in a four-year period.
Bayless referred to Manning as “(Washington Redskins quarterback) Kirk Cousins with two lucky Super Bowl rings and a famous father and a famous older brother” on his Fox Sports show “Undisputed”. This was after the Giants defeated his beloved Cowboys in the season opener.
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A particular source of Bayless’ Giants bashing is David Tyree’s Helmet Catch in the final two minutes of Super Bowl XLII. He has continually referred to the play as “the luckiest play in Super Bowl history”.
Friday was the ninth anniversary of Super Bowl XLII. It was fitting that Manning finally had the opportunity to confront Bayless. The confrontation took place on the set of “Undisputed”. The show was broadcasting live at Discovery Green in Houston, the site of Super Bowl LI.
Bayless, to his credit, didn’t back down when Manning was on the set.
“I have termed the pass you completed to David Tyree as the luckiest pass in the history of the Super Bowl,” he said. “And now that you’re here on our set, could you please give us your breakdown on how that play unfolded—that third-and-forever where you escaped four pass rushers and got loose?”
Manning has evolved into one of the masters of sarcasm in his 13 NFL seasons. At first, he looked annoyed by the question. Then, without missing a beat, he responded with a deadpan answer that evoked the late Jerry Orbach’s portrayal of Det. Lennie Briscoe on “Law & Order”.
“I think you kind of summed it up. It’s probably the luckiest play in NFL history,” Manning said. “No one really blocked anybody. I’m almost sacked, just kind of rolled out, throw it up for grabs, and David Tyree catches it off his helmet. That’s how we drew it up in practice. I never thought it would work, but sure enough, it did.”
It was so effective that Bayless didn’t even realize what had happened until the crowd started laughing at him. Shannon Sharpe, Undisputed co-host and Hall of Fame tight end, also got a good laugh at Bayless’ expense.
Bayless always seems to forget what Manning had to do just to get the pass off.
He faced pressure from defensive ends Richard Seymour and Jarvis Green (as well as linebacker Adalius Thomas) from the snap. Green had him by the shoulder while Seymour had a handful of jersey trying to go for the sack. Manning had the presence of mind to stay on his feet and duck under their arms while scrambling backwards. After that, he still needed to avoid linebackers Mike Vrabel and the late Junior Seau to get the throw off.
Meanwhile, Tyree recognized that his intended route was jammed by Ellis Hobbs and Plaxico Burress’ route was jammed by Asante Samuel. He had the presence of mind to come back towards the line to give Manning an option down the field. Tyree leaped to make the catch with safety Rodney Harrison in tight coverage attempting to knock the ball away. Initially, Tyree caught the ball with both hands but Harrison’s arm knocked Tyree’s left hand off it. Tyree made the business decision to secure it against the side of his helmet.
It was one of the most memorable plays in NFL history. There may be a certain degree of luck involved with it but it wouldn’t have happened without a certain degree of skill on the part of the quarterback and receiver. Skip Bayless should know better.
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