What are the most iconic catches in recent NFL history? The list almost certainly begins and ends with catches in Patriots Super Bowls.
For whatever reason, some of the most consequential and skillful catches in Super Bowl history — and playoff history too for that matter — have taken place with New England on the field vying for a championship.
Two of those happened in Super Bowl LI's incredible comeback, with Julian Edelman and Julio Jones snatching receptions for the ages. Here's a brief recounting of the grabs we'll never forget.
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1. Julian Edelman, 2017
"It's one of the greatest catches I've ever seen," Tom Brady said after New England closed a 25-point gap to win Super Bowl LI 34-28. "I don't know how he caught it. I don't think he does either."
With the Patriots in desperation mode in the fourth quarter (just outside two minutes, down 28-20), a bullet across the middle from Brady looked like an interception. Three Falcons players convergedas the ball was tipped and Julian Edelman rolled on top of the ball. Somehow, he was able to collect and hang on to the ball, holding it a mere inch above the turf and securing the ball for a key first down. The catch turned the tide, giving the Pats momentum and igniting the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
2. David Tyree, 2008
With the Giants down 14-10 with under two minutes to go, the undefeated Patriots looked destined to secure a perfect 19-0 campaign. That was until "the helmet catch" changed everything.
Tyee hauled in a 32-yard reception after a scrambling Eli Manning got away from New England defenders. New York would go on to score and pull off one of the biggest upsets in sports history with their 17-14 win.
3. Mario Manningham, 2012
History sort of repeated itself, as Giants-Patriots II took place four seasons later and another catch, this one a 38-yard sideline (tight rope) catch by Mario Manningham led to New England's demise.
Manning found Manningham on the sideline near midfield on New York's final touchdown march, one that would prove to be a game-winner.
4. Jermaine Kerse, 2015
Kerse's catch was influential on the game's outcome but in a different way than the three aformentioned catches. The incredible twirling, summersaulty catch in the fourth quarter with Seattle training New England with time running out led to the most memorable interception in NFL history — when plays later Russell Wilson's inexplicable goal line pass was picked off by Malcolm Butler.
This catch may be the most circus of them all, but did not lead to a win for the Seahawks.
5. Julio Jones, 2017
The final of our five catches was also not immediately evident on the scoreboard, and was more like a regular nab for one of the NFL's best in Jones, who had just four catches for the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. But his sideline grab that somehow saw him drag his second foot in bounds should have led to Atlanta's first world title.
Instead, the Falcons chose not to run the ball, regress backward from the 22 yard line, gave the ball back to the Pats (instead of adding an insurance field goal) and saw Brady march the Patriots down the field to close a 28-20 gap and force overtime.