The top play of the decade might also be in contention among the greatest plays in NFL history. Eli Manning to David Tyree with 1:05 left in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII is often known as The Catch, but Manning's ability to keep the play alive is just as impressive. Not only does he escape the grasp of Jarvis Green, but he avoids a complete pocket collapse and then heaves the ball downfield. Tyree, of course, does his part, pinning the ball against his helmet, hitting the turf and somehow coming up with the catch. Make that The Catch.
As the announcers explain, "I don't know how he got out of there. I thought he was on the ground and then he came out of the pile and just slings it. That's a great catch by David Tyree."
Music City Miracle
This play was so amazing, we named our Titans site after it. Just eight days into the new decade, the Tennessee Titans shocked the visiting Buffalo Bills in an AFC wild card playoff game on a play that's almost as controversial as the Tuck Rule (see below).
With the Bills up 16-15, Steve Christie kicked off to the Titans with 16 seconds left. Seconds later, Kevin Dyson was in the end zone with a game-winning 75-yard run after catching a lateral pass from Frank Wycheck, who was handed the ball by Lorenzo Neal. It was an odd sequence that featured what looked like a forward pass, which would have ruled the play dead. However, an "inconclusive" review gave Tennessee the playoff win. And the Music City Miracle was born.
It wouldn't be right to mention Dyson's role in Music City Miracle and not mention Dyson's memorable stretch at the one-yard line in Super Bowl XXXIV just a few weeks later.
The St. Louis Rams had the Titans on their heels, but Steve McNair kept the Titans alive down the stretch. On the game's final play, McNair throws a short pass to Dyson who's cutting across the field toward the end zone. Rams LB Mike Jones saves the game with a tackle at the one-yard line and the Titans are left stunned in their failed bid to tie the game.
The Tuck Rule
Twelve years later, the Tuck Rule is still as confusing as it was on the snowy night that the Oakland Raiders were screwed out of a potential Super Bowl appearance. The scene is the 2001 AFC Divisional game between the visiting Raiders and the host Patriots for a chance to go to the conference championship game. The Raiders are up 13-10 when Charles Woodson seemingly forced a fumble. The result should have been the end of the Patriots' season. Instead the NFL fan was introduced to the tuck rule.
The game was paused to review the play and the referee, Walt Coleman, then came back with the ruling of an incomplete pass. Despite Brady bringing the ball back in and holding it with both hands, the play was still ruled incomplete. No one could believe the call at the time, and even today it's among the most controversial plays in NFL history.
The NFL laid the Tuck Rule to rest in 2013.
Santonio Holmes, Super Bowl hero
The final minutes of Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers are among the most entertaining in the history of the big game. With two-and-a-half minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Larry Fitzgerald had taken a Kurt Warner pass 64 yards to the end zone and a 23-20 lead. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense had only a couple minutes to go the length of the field in the biggest game of his career on a night when Big Ben had been shut down all game.
They would not be stopped, however, on this final drive, as the Steelers came up with one important gain after another. None was bigger than Santonio Holmes' incredible catch with 35 seconds left. He somehow gets both feet down in the back right of the end zone on a perfect six-yard strike from Roethlisberger.
Adam Vinatieri has more highlights than most star NFL players, including the game-winning kick in the aforementioned Tuck Rule game. His greatest moments, however, came on late game-winning field goals in two different Super Bowls (XXXVI and XXXVIII).
Vinatieri left no time on the clock after hitting this 48-yard field goal through the center of the uprights to defeat the St. Louis Rams, 20-17, in Super Bowl 36.
Two years later, Vinatieri found himself in a similar position against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 38. With nine seconds left, Vinatieri kicked a 41-yard FG to earn another ring in the Pats' 32-29 victory.