HOUSTON — David Tyree has been exorcised from New England.
Nine years after Giants receiver Tyree made his incredible helmet catch to help beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, Julian Edelman’s juggling, diving, centimeters-from-the-turf grab of a fourth-quarter pass knocked Tyree’s image from the eternal loop that plays in all Patriots fans’ memories and sparked New England to a 34-28 overtime win over the Falcons on Sunday night in Super Bowl LI.
“We’ve been on the losing side on a few of those catches,” Tom Brady said, lumping Tyree’s catch along with Mario Manningham’s for the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI — and maybe even thinking about the acrobatic sideline catch by the Falcons’ Julio Jones earlier in the fourth quarter that seemed as if it would seal the win for Atlanta. “Tonight we came up with it. It was a pretty spectacular catch.”
Feel good to come out on the right side of a ridiculous reception for once?
“Oh, yeah, it does,” Edelman said. “It feels good, I’ll tell you right now.”
The play came on a first-and-10 pass from the Patriots’ 36 with just over two minutes remaining. Brady threw it over the middle and Falcons cornerback Robert Alford reached up and tipped the ball away. Edelman never lost his focus on the fluttering football, though, tipped it into the air himself, and managed to secure it with two hands in a scrum of three defenders. The ball came close to grazing the turf at NRG Stadium, but Edelman clearly kept it above the green.
“I knew I got it,” Edelman said. “I felt like I had it. I knew I had a good feel on it, I didn’t know if maybe a piece of the ball was touching. I don’t know what the dang rule is, no one knows what a rule is for a catch, so I was like, ‘I’m pretty sure I caught it.’ ”
The Falcons challenged it. He did catch it.
Not everyone needed a replay.
“I was actually right in front of him when he caught it,” running back James White said. “I was pretty sure he caught it. It was an amazing play. It seems like there is one of those catches in every Super Bowl. I’m just glad it went our way this time.”
“Unbelievable,” fellow receiver Danny Amendola said. “It was an awesome catch. I don’t know how he did it. Catch of the night. No question it sparked the whole team.”
It also deflated the Falcons.
“All I could do was get my hand up to hit it,” Alford said of deflecting the pass. “I knew if I tipped it in the air, that’s something that we’ve been going over in practice, just tip it in the air and if you can’t get it, then my brother will get it. Edelman was right there. Ricardo [Allen, Falcons safety] and someone else were battling for the ball, but on the instant replay, he [Edelman] came down with it.”
Edelman said of Alford’s tip: “He made a decent play. Thankfully, he didn’t finish it.”
Edelman said there wasn’t much time to enjoy it. The Patriots still trailed by eight.
“I was on to the next play,” he said. “We had a lot more to do. We had to score the touchdown and the two-point conversion.”
They did, and eventually won the game.
Edelman said after the game he still had not come to grips with what had happened. That he now will be immortalized. That as long as there are Super Bowls, there will be replays of his catch.
At the moment, he had seen the replay only a few times.
“It was good,” he said.
Good enough to be the new “catch” that comes to mind when Patriots fans think of Super Bowls.
“The ball was an inch from the ground and he was able to stop it from hitting,” White said. “It was an amazing play. It definitely displaces [Tyree] now.”