Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Manning Escape

The Manning Escape. The Miracle Grab of David Tyree. Immaculate Reception II. Whatever you want to call it.

Everyone in New England will certainly remember what they were doing, where they were and who they were with for The Manning Escape. I can easily see this being akin to Buckner’s Error and The Shot Heard Round the World and various other sporting moments that get names of their own and come to define games and legacies.

The Manning Escape was one of several defining moments in Super Bowl 42, one of several opportunities the New England Patriots had to seal the game or change the outcome to ensure their perfect 19-0 season and establish a Patriots dynasty for this decade with their 4th Super Bowl win.

This was not to be though. After the Pats went ahead 14-10 with less than 3 minutes to play on a TD pass from Brady to Moss, New England was much more relaxed than it previously had been. While far from over, the game had taken on a new life now that we had the lead late in the game and it was up to Eli Manning to lead a drive and beat us on the biggest stage of them all.

After a second down play that saw a game sealing interception graze of the outside of Asante Samuel’s knuckles (he was a split second too quick in trying to catch the ball) we had the giants at 3rd and 5 from near midfield with a minute to play. Eli dropped back to pass, and for one of the few times in the game it seemed we had a strong pass rush. Two of our guys got to Eli and had him wrapped up, or so it seemed. Somehow, someway the little bastard managed to spin away from two would be tacklers, who had a grasp on his jersey and get into open space. While actively running for his life he finds David Tyree somewhat open across the middle and heaves a pass towards him.
What happened next can only be described as other-worldly.

Everything was going in slow motion and the pass felt as if it had been in the air for 30 seconds, at least. Rodney Harrison was in coverage against Tyree and the pass was high. Both men jumped, going up for the ball in perfect harmony, slowly reaching out for it arms fully extended. Tyree and Harrison both have a hand on it, and the pair begins their descent to Earth as gravity takes effect. As they fall to the ground the ball is pinned against Tyree’s helmet, held there by both his and Harrison’s hand and each man trying with all their strength to take sole possession of it. Somehow Tyree manages to get his other hand up and cradles the ball tightly, bringing it down towards his chest ever so slightly as Harrison forces him into an awkward back bend as the two men crash into the turf.

With their collision to the ground the world comes back to full speed in an instant and I am screaming unintelligibly at the top of my lungs. “Harrison’s got it! Fumble! Offensive pass interference! OffsidesHOLDING! SHITASSFUCKNOWAY DOES HE HAVE IT!”
Turns out I had been screaming the whole play and hadn’t realized it. With that catch the Giants converted the 3rd down and kept the drive alive and were now in the redzone. Several plays later they went on to score the go ahead TD with 35 seconds left. That two play sequence was unequivocally the dumbest, most random and absurd sequence of professional football I have ever witnessed – especially given the implications.

Where was I you might ask? In a cramped living room surrounded largely by people I didn’t know who were predominantly Giants fans (dumb ones at that). The lesson here is, when your team is in the big game do not break routine. I should have been with people I knew, eating pizza like I had for all the past Super Bowls not branching out in hostile territory.

Excuse me while I go bash my head through a plate glass window.

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