GLENDALE, Ariz. - Turns out David Tyree was saving up for one game. One really, really big game.
Little more than a special teams player all season, Tyree became an All-Pro in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
First, he shook loose over the middle to catch a 5-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning that put the New York Giants ahead. Then Tyree topped himself, making a tumbling, circus grab to set up a last-second score and a 17-14 stunner Sunday night over the mighty New England Patriots.
"That might be one of the great plays of all time in the Super Bowl," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
Pretty neat trick for a guy who started the season with a broken wrist and finished with more tackles than catches. And someone who overcame adversity, too - Tyree's mother died of a heart attack in mid-December.
On a team where Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer are the star receivers - heck, even injured Jeremy Shockey still gets plenty of attention - Tyree wound up as a most unlikely go-to guy. And for years to come, Giants fans will surely talk about a most improbable catch.
The Giants trailed 14-10 with only 1:15 left when Manning faced a third-and-5 at his own 44. The Patriots brought pressure, and Manning somehow shook loose from two defenders.
Scrambling to his right, he made a desperate, dangerous toss deep down the middle where defensive backs Rodney Harrison and Asante Samuel were lurking. Tyree jumped up and with Harrison on his back, managed to get both hands on the ball.
Harrison fought him the whole way, slapping at the ball and momentarily pinning it to Tyree's helmet. That gave Tyree a chance to get a better grip and as he fell backward, he had the presence to hold the ball aloft to show it was his.
"That ball was challenged," Coughlin said.
The 32-yard gain to the New England 24 seemed to startle Harrison and his teammates while the Giants jumped up and down on the sideline.
"He made a hell of a play," Samuel said.
"Rodney was right there," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said.
The Giants quickly called timeout with 59 seconds remaining and four plays later, Manning hit Burress for the winner.
But it was that crazy play by a fifth-year receiver from Syracuse that really thrilled Manning.
"It was just a great catch by David Tyree. I found a way to get loose and just really threw it up," Manning said. "He made an unbelievable catch and saved the game."
Earlier, Tyree pulled in a bullet pass from Manning that put the Giants ahead 10-7 with 11:05 left in the fourth quarter.
Tyree finished with three catches for 43 yards and one touchdown against a team that was trying to complete a perfect run. He had totaled five catches, 40 yards and zero TDs all season.
In fact, Tyree did not catch a single pass until December. Until then, his biggest value came on special teams with 10 tackles.