Monday, February 2, 2009

The Catch III? Or is it IV?

I can't remember when last a single play completely changed my feelings about an entire game. Up until that last drive and the great catch, this was a slightly annoying, somewhat unsatisfying game. There were officiating calls that, regardless of your leanings, had to make you cringe, a few bungled plays here and there, interspersed in a handful of tremendous plays. That play to end the first half was one for the books. To follow that lineup up the sideline with his convoy the kinda suspenseful fun you had to enjoy. Unless you were wearing red that day of course.

But Holmes' catch was indescribably sensational. Actually, Big Ben's pass was equally incredible. A perfectly-placed pass, a perfectly-caught ball, perfectly-placed feet. That was pure art.

Honestly, after Holmes came down with the ball, I jumped up and yelled at the top of my lungs. I'm pretty certain my very significant other was either embarrassed or shocked -- in that "who is this crazy person I let drive me around?" sense -- probably a little of both. I couldn't help it. I always loved the wide receiver position; that was the part of the game I liked most and the position I always wanted to play as a kid. Anytime I see a great play by a receiver, it just means that much more to me. And this...was...tremendous.

Every time they showed the replay after that, I was back to yelling: "ohhhhhh!" I think I wanted to jump thru the screen and give Holmes a pound myself. I haven't even dialed it up on youtube yet, for fear that I may bust out yelling here in the office.

Of course, I've seen dozens of tippy-toes catches over the years. I've loved every one of them. But I can't remember any that were at a bigger stage of a game. Man!

That got me to remembering one of my all-time favourite NFL-catches; actually, this may probably is my all-time favourite:

* Terrell Owens vs. Green Bay, 1998
I remember it like it was yesterday. Green Bay beating my beloved 49ers in the playoffs had become an annual ritual. Literally. I braved the beginnings of the New York blizzard of '96 to watch the game, only to have it get out of hand before I even got in front of a TV. The 1997 rematch was a beatdown so identical I had to make sure my VCR wasn't on.

And here we were again, one last, desperate, no-hope play until the clock ran out on yet another season, yet again at the hands of the Packers. Sitting on my futon couch, I leaned all the way back, put my feet up to simulate an upright fetal position, and sulked. The joy of 1995 was now about as far away a memory as breast-feeding. "Why the hell can't we beat these cheese-eating mofos?" I thought to myself as they lined up on scrimmage. The ball is snapped, and after a couple steps, quarterback Steve Young stumbles while dropping back from center. My eyes roll; sure, let's just do away with even the mere formality of a hopeless hail-mary. But Steve catches himself, keeps his feet under him, and continues to drop into the pocket. A quick bounce at the end of his drop, and he steps forward to sling the desperation pass. Ho hum. The camera pans to the end zone, and the ball disappears between two Green Bay defensive backs, who crack the red jersey in between them simultaneously. A 49er falls to the endzone turf and starts rolling around, while three Packers pace about bewildered. As was I: "wait, what's going on?" Just then, an official runs into view, with two arms raised high above his head. Wait; touchdown? Touchdown??? He caught it, he caught it! I leaped up off the coach and blared out. Oh shit! He caught it!

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