It happened at the most critical moment of the biggest game, with Holmes' team trailing and time running out. Holmes stretched to his limit to snare a ball that was thrown high, late and fast, with nothing but the tips of his shoes touching the Raymond James Stadium turf. He was hit after he caught the ball but maintained control when he landed, giving the Pittsburgh Steelers their sixth Super Bowl championship.
Anatomy of a Play
Can there even be an argument against Sabol's claim?
Let's start by eliminating all regular-season plays from consideration. They don't belong in "greatest ever" discussions.
Several Super Bowl touchdown catches are comparable. John Taylor's carried the same weight as Holmes', winning Super Bowl XXIII for the San Francisco 49ers in the final minute. But like the Eli Manning-to-Burress touchdown last year, Taylor's ball was perfectly thrown by Joe Montana. It was on time and hit Taylor in stride. He simply had to squeeze the ball -- no stretch, no hit, no toe tap.
The only touchdown catch that could possibly match Holmes' in both magnitude and difficulty was Isaac Bruce's 73-yarder in Super Bowl XXXIV.
The Rams, now in St. Louis, had blown a 16-0 lead by surrendering 16 consecutive points to the Tennessee Titans and, pinned deep in their own territory with 2:12 left on the clock, needed to move quickly. Tennessee was playing press, man-to-man coverage on Bruce. Quarterback Kurt Warner wanted to take a shot down the field, calling 999 -- aka "everyone go deep."
Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse pummeled Warner on the play, causing his pass to be underthrown, but Bruce made an incredible adjustment, stopping at just the right moment to cut back inside the cornerback and catch the ball. Bruce then made the safety miss and outran everyone to the end zone for the winning touchdown.
If the run after the catch is included in the greatest touchdown catch argument, then Bruce's vies for the top spot. Judging just the catch and not the entire play, then Sabol is 100 percent right, and Holmes made the greatest touchdown catch in NFL history.