AFC East: Kareem McKenzie
One of the most magnificent highlights in NFL history was David Tyree's miraculous ball-on-helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII. The play, which began with a sack-defying Eli Manning scramble, propelled the New York Giants to the title and left the New England Patriots one game shy of an undefeated season.
ESPN.com has put together "Inside a Moment in Time" to revisit Tyree's catch. Patriots fans might feel as nauseous as Thomas when they check out the feature, but the feature is an impressive look back at history.
Editors and reporters began the process in June. They spoke with 12 players and one official involved in the play. It's broken into two photos, Manning's scramble and Tyree's catch.
Patriots defenders Richard Seymour, Jarvis Green, Mike Vrabel and Thomas recall what was going through their minds at the time of the first snapshot, as do Manning and Giants linemen David Diehl, Kareem McKenzie, Rich Seubert and Shaun O'Hara.
Patriots defensive backs Rodney Harrison and James Sanders and back judge Scott Helverson share their on-the-spot memories of Tyree's catch.
The package also includes:
- A comprehensive photo gallery of the play.
- NFL editor Sheldon Spencer's feature story on how the play changed Tyree's life.
- ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton's top 10 plays in Super Bowl history.
- A click-and-drag survey for you to rank the greatest Super Bowl plays.
- Another "Inside a Moment in Time" of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison's 100-yard touchdown return in Super Bowl XLIII.
- A debate over which play was better, Harrison's or Tyree's, with senior writer Greg Garber and ESPNewYork.com columnist Ian O'Connor as litigants.
To get in the spirit of ESPN.com's all-decade week, I asked readers on Monday to select their AFC East team for the 20-aughts.
Although some insisted on submitting ballots that included a 4-4-4 defensive scheme and somebody kept signing on under different usernames to stuff the box for guard Adam Levitre (I think "they" meant Buffalo Bills rookie Andy Levitre), the results were sound.
Here are your picks along with my own.
|The Jets' Curtis Martin eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in five seasons this decade.|
Quarterback: Tom Brady.
- Of note: One vote came in for anybody other than the two-time Super Bowl MVP. Chad Pennington was the recipient.
- My pick: Brady.
Running back: Curtis Martin.
- Of note: There have been some stellar rushing seasons in the AFC East, but not much longevity. Martin's closest competition was Ricky Williams. Beyond that, nobody received more than two mentions. Thurman Thomas, who had 28 carries this decade, got a vote.
- My pick: Martin.
Fullback: Tony Richardson.
- Of note: Richardson's career credentials are remarkable. He has blocked for five 1,000-yard rushers. But last year was his first in the AFC East.
- My pick: Larry Centers. He spent only three seasons in the AFC East, but he had 80 catches for the Bills in 2001, earning him Pro Bowl honors.
- Of note: The only thing worse than Richardson getting votes after one year would be Terrell Owens after zero. Thankfully, nobody made that mistake. Moss and Coles were clearly ahead of the field, with Lee Evans coming in third and Chris Chambers fourth.
- My picks: Moss, Eric Moulds.
Tight end: Randy McMichael.
- Of note: Aside from Brady, no player was more unanimous at his position than McMichael.
- My pick: McMichael.
- Of note: Only four tackles were nominated, with Light edging out Jason Peters by one vote. Kareem McKenzie was a distant fourth.
- My picks: Light, Peters.
- Of note: Ruben Brown, a nine-time Pro Bowler at left guard, received only six votes.
- My picks: Brown, Mankins. If Neal can learn right guard without playing a down in college, then Brown can learn how to play there on my team.
Center: Kevin Mawae.
- Of note: Nick Mangold came in second with half as many votes as Mawae, a player many readers felt should have been on the NFL's all-decade offense instead of Olin Kreutz.
- My pick: Mawae.
- Of note: Not even close.
- My picks: Taylor, Seymour.
- Of note: Williams edged out Kris Jenkins, who's coming off his lone season in the AFC East.
- My picks: Wilfork, Ted Washington. Washington was a Pro Bowler for the Bills in 2000 and won a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2003.
- Of note: Thomas was omitted from the NFL all-decade defense, but he received the most votes of any AFC East linebacker. Joey Porter finished fourth, four votes behind Bruschi.
- My picks: Thomas, Vrabel, Takeo Spikes. Many folks overlook Spikes because his teams never had success.
- Of note: Aside from Brady, nobody received more votes at his position than Law.
- My picks: Law, Patrick Surtain. While Samuel was a Pro Bowler in 20
07, he started only three seasons for the Patriots. Surtain went to three Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro once this decade.
- Of note: Marion edged Lawyer Milloy by a single vote.
- My picks: Lawyer Milloy, Marion. Harrison had one All-Pro season with New England. Milloy was a two-time Pro Bowler and had productive seasons for the Patriots and Bills.
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri.
- Of note: Some clown voted for Olindo Mare.
- My pick: Vinatieri.
Punter: Brian Moorman.
- Of note: Tom Tupa received a couple votes, but Moorman was the obvious selection.
- My pick: Moorman.
Kick returner: Terrence McGee.
- Of note: Leon Washington might have been impacted by readers splitting their votes for him between punt and kickoff returner.
- My pick: Washington. He ran back three kicks in 2007, led the NFL in all-purpose yards last year and still might be getting better.
Punt returner: Roscoe Parrish.
- Of note: He led the NFL in punt return yardage the past two years.
- My pick: Parrish.
Joyner, for the New York Times' NFL blog, "The Fifth Down," recently attempted to determine which Meadowlands squad had the better O-line group.
In the process, he came to the conclusion the Jets were better than the Giants up front and might be the class of the league.
"Going into this, I would have thought the Giants would have won this hands down, but the metrics show that isn't the case," Joyner writes.
Joyner conducted a position-by-position comparison based on point-of-attack win percentage and yards per carry (run blocking) and a formula that factors sacks allowed, quarterback hits, holding penalties and batted throws (pass protection).
Jets left guard Alan Faneca is a perennial Pro Bowler, but Rich Seubert's numbers were better last year. Jets right guard Brandon Moore is a serviceable starter, but he didn't stand a chance in matching up with All-Pro Chris Snee.