The David Tyree helmet catch, the play that propelled the New York Giants to a Super Bowl XLII upset of the previously unbeaten New England Patriots, almost never happened. Former referee Mike Carey, who worked that game, admitted recently that under normal circumstances the play would have been blown dead before Eli Manning let the ball go.
Carey discussed the play with Yahoo Sports’ Tony Siragusa and a fascinating side note to history emerged. Carey explained that his usual position is behind the quarterback and to his front side. But the Patriots’ pass rush got to Eli Manning so quickly that Carey couldn’t see the quarterback from his normal position.
"For some reason, I don’t know why, I ran all the way around here to get to that window," Carey said.
Carey illustrated that he ran up and around to Manning’s blind side, where he saw that Manning was being held back by the jersey. He said had he been in his normal spot, "I would have just seen him collapse into a pile." Instead, he could see that Manning was working to get himself free. After Manning got free, he hit Tyree downfield for one of the most famous plays in sports history, and a few plays later the Giants scored the game-winning touchdown.
"Had I stayed here, I think the outcome would have been different," Carey said. "I probably would have blown the whistle."
Had Carey stayed in his normal position, of course, history for the Giants — and Patriots — could have turned out much differently.
Here is Carey’s full explanation: