We’re really getting spoiled here. After a stretch of rather boring Super Bowls — the most of exciting of which included game winning field goals! — we’ve now had two straight Super Sundays distinguished by mesmerizing catches. In Super Bowl XLIII, Santonio Holmes’ toe-tapping catch with 35 seconds left in the game gave the Pittsburgh Steelers the 27-23 lead and the win. His reward was the game MVP trophy. Last year, David Tyree made an even goofier catch to keep the Giants’ winning drive sustained. To improve on this next year, someone’s going to have to catch a football with their crotch.
But in spite of those tremendous plays, Holmes didn’t have the best play of the night. After all, he’s a wide receiver and his job is to make great catches. Earlier in the game, we saw an even better touchdown catch by a non-receiver. And he didn’t even start out the play in the proper end zone.
Steelers linebacker James Harrison’s runback touchdown to close out the first half of Super Bowl XLIII was, to say the least, a game changer for the ages. With the Arizona Cardinals down 10-7 and looking to tie or take the lead on a first and goal play, Harrison picked off Kurt Warner’s pass and ran 100 yards for the touchdown. He didn’t just run untouched with a convoy of Steelers blockers, he really had to make some moves to shimmy out of grasps and avoid running out of bounds. The Cardinals’ stud receiver Larry Fitzgerald never gave up on that play either, so Harrison had to outrun him as well. In fact, some may consider it the greatest defensive play in Super Bowl history.
Many people have made game-saving and game-winning catches on the biggest state in football. Hell, Tyree made one just last year. But nobody has ever scored a 100-yard touchdown in Super Bowl history.
It goes without saying that his defensive cohorts will back him up, but safety Troy Polamalu quipped later, “That was the difference in the game. We had a defensive touchdown, and they didn’t.”
Holmes had nine catches and 131 yards, both game highs, so it makes some sense to give him the MVP since he was making plays the entire game. Harrison’s stat sheet didn’t show up with much else — four tackles, three solo — but to make the greatest individual play in a Super Bowl decided by four points, well, I don’t see how anyone else by comparison deserves the MVP.
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