The 20 Greatest Catches in Football History (Video)

Bryn Swartz@eaglescentralSenior Writer IIIJanuary 22, 2009

20. Calvin Johnson

In the fourth quarter of a close game against NC State, Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson reached back with his right hand to snare a poorly thrown ball by the quarterback.

19. Torry Holt

Holt's long touchdown reception against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants came after the pass was deflected at the goal line. Holt's great concentration enabled him to catch the ball while lying on his back in the end zone.

18. Antonio Bryant

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wide receiver Antonio Bryant made a diving, one-handed grab for a touchdown in a Monday night game against the Carolina Panthers. Bryant's 15-yard touchdown came with just over two minutes remaining, cutting the Panthers' lead to eight.

17. Lewis Bennett

During the 1987 NFL season, New York Giants wide receiver Lewis Bennett caught a deep pass for a touchdown, after reaching around the defender's back, tipping the ball into the air, and grabbing it for the touchdown. Bennett was a replacement player and would never play in the NFL again.

16. Antonio Cromartie

Cromartie intercepted future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning four times in the 2007 season; three times in one epic November battle and once in the postseason. Cromartie's leaping one-handed grab is a play that the San Diego Chargers cornerback calls the best play of his career.

15. Jason Sehorn

I still have nightmares of this play. Jason Sehorn intercepted quarterback Donovan McNabb in the second game of the 2000 season. Sehorn dove for McNabb's pass, deflected it up into the air, caught it, and ran for a 32-yard touchdown.

14. Marty Booker

Yes, Booker's grab came this year against the single worst team in the history of professional sports. It still deserves some credit. With the Bears leading 17-0 against the Detroit Lions, Booker caught a pass with his left hand, just inches above the ground. Booker's grab covered 30 yards.

13. Dwight Clark

Clark's catch is one of the most famous in NFL history. Nicknamed “The Catch,” Clark's third-down reception helped the San Francisco 49ers end a potential Dallas Cowboys dynasty, while beginning one of their own. The catch by Clark is the signature play in the Hall of Fame career of quarterback Joe Montana.

12. Gerald Phelan

Doug Flutie's throw, known as college football's “Hail Mary”, won the game for Boston College against Miami in an epic battle still talked about today. Gerald Phelan caught Flutie's bomb one yard deep in the end zone.

The play was officially a 48-yard play, but Flutie's pass traveled more than 63 yards in the air. The play is recognized as one of the greatest plays in college football history.

11. Matt Davison

Matt Davison's diving reception came on the final play of the game in a 1995 battle. The catch, aided by several deflections, helped the Nebraska Cornhuskers beat the University of Missouri and is remembered as one of the most memorable catches in college history.

10. Clint Session

Session's grab is the second interception from the epic Colts-Chargers game in November of 2007. Session intercepted the pass after it bounced off the arm of a Colts defender, off another Colts defender, and off the back of another Colts defender lying on the ground.

Session ran 95 yards following the interception, but the play had incorrectly been signaled dead, costing the Colts incredible field position, and likely a win.

9. Freddie Mitchell

Freddie Mitchell provided the Eagles with the biggest catch in team history, grabbing a 28-yard strike on 4th-and-26. The pass came from Donovan McNabb with one minute remaining in the divisional playoffs against the Green Bay Packers. The Eagles went on to win in overtime, 20-17.

8. Nate Poole (start at 5:52)

“NOOO! NOOOO! The Cardinals have knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs!”

One of the greatest calls in sports history, as Josh McCown connected with Nate Poole on a 4th-and-24 pass from the 25-yard line on the last play of the game.

The play gave the 4-12 Cardinals a dramatic 18-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, who just needed to win to make the postseason. (The call)

7. Edwin Baptiste

Wide receiver Edwin Baptiste of Morgan State made a leaping, one-handed catch of a pass thrown from his own end zone in the 2008 season. Baptiste's catch was one of the most popular videos on Youtube for several months afterward.

6. Chris Moore

Wide receiver Chris Moore of Western Washington University caught a sideline pass from quarterback Jason Stiles. The between the legs catch came against the University of Puget Sound Loggers. Moore won an ESPY in 1992 for the College Football Play of the Year.

5. Tyrone Prothro

Prothro's catch came on a fourth-down Hail Mary pass by quarterback Brodie Croyle right before halftime against the University of Southern Mississippi. Prothro's catch won the 2006 ESPY for Best Play of the Year. He also won the Pontiac Game Changing Award of the Year for Best Play.

4. Lynn Swann

Swann's juggling reception came on a deep pass from Terry Bradshaw in Super Bowl X. Swann, who earned MVP honors with his 161-yard performance in the game, wasn't even supposed to play in the Super Bowl, following a severe concussion in the AFC Championship game the week before.

3. Antonio Freeman

Freeman's incredible touchdown came in 1) in overtime, 2) on Monday Night Football, 3) at home against the division rival Minnesota Vikings. Freeman caught an errant pass from Brett Favre while laying on his back, got up, juked out a defender, and ran into the end zone for the winning score.

In 2005, ESPN voted Freeman's catch the greatest play in the history of Monday Night Football.

2. Franco Harris

The Immaculate Reception.” Often ranked as the greatest touchdown in NFL history, Franco Harris caught a deflected pass from quarterback Terry Bradshaw for a 60-yard touchdown to defeat the Oakland Raiders in dramatic fashion.

The play marked the start of the Steelers' powerful dynasty and led to a heated rivalry between the Steelers and the Raiders in the 1970s.

1. David Tyree

The greatest catch in history: NFL, college, or high school. Tyree's catch would be talked about for years even if it wasn't in the Super Bowl! With 1:15 remaining in Super Bowl XLII and the Giants trailing 14-10, Eli Manning escaped the grasp of two Patriots defenders and scrambled to his right.

In desperation, he heaved the ball downfield, where it was caught and trapped against the helmet by wide receiver David Tyree. The catch, a 32-yard gain, led to the biggest upset in the history of professional sports, as the New York Giants defeated the undefeated New England Patriots.


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