The 51st Super Bowl was one for the ages. Super Bowl LI consisted of a lot of G.O.A.Ts. We saw Tom Brady absolutely confirm that he is the greatest quarterback in NFL history. We saw the New England Patriots mount the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, and the 25-point comeback is tied for the 5th largest deficit in NFL history. Finally, we saw Julian Edelman make one of the greatest catches in the history of football. With 2 minutes and 34 seconds left in the game, the Patriots were down 8 points on their own 36-yard line. After getting down 28-3, New England was a touchdown and a two-point conversion away from forcing overtime for the first time in Super Bowl history. On 1st and 10, Tom Brady threw a ball across the middle for Julian Edelman. The ball was deflected by a member of the Atlanta secondary and became a free-for-all between Edelman and 3 Atlanta defenders. After bouncing off of hands, legs, feet, and everything imaginable, Edelman was able to haul in the catch inches from the turf. So now, let’s take a look back at some of the most outstanding catches in Super Bowl history.
10. Cris Collinsworth – Super Bowl XXIII
This catch did not mean much in the game, especially since Collinsworth also had a heartbreaking fumble. Although, the Sunday Night Football broadcaster did haul in a beautiful over-the-shoulder grab against San Fransisco in the 1989 championship. The 49ers went on to win the game 20-16.
9. Julio Jones – Super Bowl LI
In Sunday’s game, the Falcons did blow a 25-point second half lead, but Julio Jones did make a catch that I deem worthy of being considered one of the greatest of all-time. Matt Ryan should also receive credit for this since he threw where only Jones could catch it, but the toe-tap is other-worldly.
8. Mario Manningham – Super Bowl XLVI
Although this catch was outshined by another New York Giant’s catch later in the list, Mario Manningham made an incredible toe-tapping catch to set up the Giants for their game-winning drive against the undefeated Patriots.
7. Max McGee – Super Bowl I
In the first Super Bowl, Max McGee laid the foundation of the one-handed catch. Before OBJ and today’s receivers, there was Max Mcgee making a one-handed catch for a 37-yard TD against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers would go on to win the first world championship 35-10.
6. Lynn Swann – Super Bowl X
In one of the most heart-breaking moments in Dallas Cowboys history, Lynn Swann and Terry Bradshaw connected on a majestic 53-yard completion. Lynn Swann would go on to set a Super Bowl record with 161 receiving yards on 4 catches and earned the MVP honor in the Steelers 21-17 victory over Dallas.
5. Jermain Kearse – Super Bowl XLIX
On the Seahawks final drive of the game, Jermaine Kearse made an amazing catch from his back to put Seattle inside the 5-yard line with just over a minute left. Unfortunately, Kearse’s efforts would not result in a Super Bowl ring. Two plays later, Russell Wilson’s pass was picked off by Malcolm Butler, sealing the 4th Super Bowl victory for New England.
4. Butch Johnson – Super Bowl XII
In a very rare scenario, this is actually a very happy moment in the Cowboys history. TE Butch Johnson made an incredible diving catch in 1978 to put the Cowboys in a commanding 20-3 lead against Denver. The Cowboys would go on to win the game 27-10 and earn their second Super Bowl win.
3. David Tyree – Super Bowl XLII
Just a few years earlier than the 2012 Super Bowl Matchup between the Patriots and Giants, David Tyree made one of the most iconic catches in NFL history. The play that is now dubbed “the helmet catch” was the decisive play in the 2007-2008 Super Bowl that continued the Giants drive down to win Eli Manning’s 1st Super Bowl.
2. Julian Edelman – Super Bowl LI
This incredible catch is, also, the most recent. As we discussed earlier, Julian Edelman’s catch was one of the most clutch, spectacular, and flat-out jaw-dropping plays in Super Bowl history. The catch would boost New England’s momentum exponentially and propel over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
1. Santonio Holmes – Super Bowl XLIII
This catch might not be as incredible as the Tyree and Edelman catch, but this catch was THE catch that won the Steelers the Super Bowl. It was 2nd-and-goal on the Arizona 6-yard line. There were 48 seconds left when the ball was snapped, and Big Ben delivered the best pass of his career to Santonio Holmes. The Steelers would hold Kurt Warner and the Cardinals in the last 30 seconds and would go on to win Super Bowl 43, 27-23.
The Worst of the Worst: Jackie Smith – Super Bowl XIII
Now, we can’t discuss the greatest catches in Super Bowl history without mentioning the worst of the worst. Yet again, we are talking about a heartbreak in Cowboys history. Towards the end of the 3rd quarter, Dallas was on the Steelers 10-yard line on 3rd-and-3. Roger Staubach dropped back and found a wide-open Jackie Smith. Staubach fired it to Smith, who let the ball bounce off the front of his shoulder pads in one of the most cringeworthy moments in the history of humanity. The worst part about this play is that the Cowboys settled for a field goal and went on to lost the game 35-31.
We forgive you Jackie Smith, but we will never forget it.