(In order of popularity)
1. THE HELMET CATCH (17.3% of votes)
Super Bowl XLII
Game Reset: 14-10 Pats, 1:15 left, 3rd and 5 at the Giants' 44. Giants have 2 timeouts
Many things had to happen for this pass to be completed:
-Two men had Manning by the jersey and he somehow escaped
-Three men were around Tyree. Rodney Harrison was right at his back trying to knock the ball free, Tryre gripped it somewhat precariously against his helmet.
Run that play 10 times. How many times is Eli sacked? How many times does Harrison knock it out? How many times does Tyree drop it? I'm thinking that play is successful 3 times out of 10, max.
Now, remember, if that play is unsuccessful, it's 4th and 5, and the Giants still would have had one more chance. Pats had allowed two 4th-and-1s late in Super Bowls to that point, including one in that game, but this was a passing down. Eli was 19-for-34 overall, 7/15 throwing on 3rd down, 3/5 throwing on 3rd down in the 4th qtr. Give him a 50/50 shot to convert on 4th and 5 (or longer if he gets sacked on the play).
BOTTOM LINE: Tyree makes the catch, the G-Men win. He DOESN'T make the catch, we're looking at a toss up on 4th down. And even if the Giants convert on 4th down, we shouldn't assume they still win the game. The Tyree pass went for 32 yards; if that's off the table, the Giants would need to go 56 yards in a little over a minute--and that's IF they convert on 4th down.
That 4th down would have been their last chance. If the Pats get the ball back, Brady kneels three times, and they are punting it back with about 20 seconds left, whereupon Eli needs to go 70 yards in 2-3 plays. That's ball game.
GENIE SAYS: Reversing the helmet catch puts this win in doubt for the Giants. 7 out of 10
2. THE ASANTE SAMUEL DROP (15.5% of votes)
Super Bowl XLII
Game Reset: 14-10 Pats, 1:20 left, 2nd and 5 at the Giants' 44. Giants have 2 timeouts
(one play before the helmet catch)
Manning throws a horrible pass right at Samuel. It hits him on both hands, and he appears to land in bounds.
Samuel was an INT machine. Five interceptions in 11 playoff starts. How many times out of 10 does he make that pick? Seven? Eight?
Samuel holds that ball, New England is at their own 37 with 1:15 left in the game, and again Eli is chucking up a prayer at the end.
GENIE SAYS: A very makeable pick for a player who made them often. Samuel comes down with this one, it's game over. 9 out of 10
3. THE WELKER DROP (14.2% of votes)
Super Bowl XLVI
Game Reset: 17-15 Patriots, 4:06 remaining, 2nd and 11 at the NYG 44, Giants have 1 timeout
We all know this one: Welker is wide open, Brady hits him on the hands, and he drops it at the 20. That's a catch Welker has made 100 times.
Welker makes that catch, he runs for at least 5 yards, and the Pats are at the 15 with a first and 10 and the clock presumably running. Figure they don't snap again until 3:20.
At this point, best-case scenario is the Patriots are kicking a FG with about 2:00 left, even if the Giants use their timeout. That's 1:46 later than when they actually DID get the ball in SB 46. Now the Giants need to drive the length of the field with no ability to stop the clock, and that would've been cutting it very close given the way New York's offense had moved that night.
Obviously, after the Giants burned their last timeout, any Patriot first down would be deadly, and the Patriots were 6 of 12 on third down that game. And needless to say, a TD is game over too.
GENIE SAYS: This was an extremely makeable catch by a reliable receiver. If he made it, the game wouldn't have been over, but momentum (and time) would've been in New England's favor. If the Giants managed to keep the Patriots out of the end zone, kept them from moving the chains, and used their timeout wisely, they would have been able to get the ball back in time to score. Advantage New England, but it would've been an exciting finish. 7 of 10
4. THE BRADY STRIP SACK (10.2% of votes)
Super Bowl LII
Game Reset: 38-33 Eagles, 2:16 left, 2nd and 2 at the Patriot 33
Brady drops back to throw and is strip-sacked by Brandon Graham. Philly ball, game over.
The defender beat the block and Brady didn't see him until it was too late. For any Pats fan, it sure would be nice if that play didn't happen, but this genie wants justification. He wants to know *why* he should reverse the play--and "I want it that way" isn't enough. Patriots fans want the play erased; Eagles fans want it to stay just the way it is. Why should one side take priority over the other? Now, if there were some extenuating circumstance, you'd have something--but there is little here in that regard.
GENIE SAYS: Graham made a hell of a play and created a turnover for his team in a crucial spot. The Patriots had 11 men on the field just like Philly did, and sadly for them, they got beaten on this key play. 0 out of 10
5. THE MARIO MANNINGHAM CATCH (7.1% of votes)
Super Bowl XLVI
Game Reset: 17-15 Patriots, 3:39 remaining, 1st and 10 at the NYG 12, Giants have 1 timeout
Manning goes deep to Manningham, who makes a sideline catch near midfield.
This one comes up all the time, and is often mentioned in connection with the helmet catch. But other than the fact that they were both thrown by Eli Manning in Super Bowls, the two plays have little in common. This was a deep pass and a sideline catch, and while impressive, it's a play we see all the time. We probably won't see another helmet catch for 20 years.
It was the very first play on what would be an 88-yard go-ahead TD drive by the Giants, and the catch put New York at midfield. One could argue that it was the key play of the drive, but Manning would go 3-for-4 for 32 yards after that play, and Bradshaw would carry 3 times for 14 yards, including a 6-yard TD run. I'll never understand why so much emphasis is put on that play, when the Giants basically walked into the end zone with very little resistance well after the play happened.
Does anyone actually think that anything changes without this catch? The Patriots didn't even force a 3rd down in the entire nine-play drive! It doesn't get much easier for an offense.
GENIE SAYS: The Giants offense was on fire for that entire drive, and the NE defense had no answer. With or without that catch, the Patriots were screwed. 1 out of 10
6. THE NON-DPI CALL
Saints vs. Rams, 2018 NFCCG, 1/19/2019 (1.3% of votes)
Game Reset: 20-20, 1:45 remaining, 3rd and 10 at the Rams 13, Rams have 1 timeout
Brees looks for Tommylee Lewis at the sticks, and Robey-Coleman hits him before the ball gets there. Textbook defensive pass interference.
After the game, the NFL commissioner himself admitted that the official got it wrong. With a Super Bowl berth on the line.
The genie loves wishes like this. There was absolutely no excuse from anyone, no explanation of how the officials got it wrong, no difference of opinion, no controversial interpretation of a rule. Just a flat-out mistake. Run this play 10 times, and the officials probably catch the DPI in nine of them.
If the Saints get that call, they kneel down three times, and LA can only stop the clock once. Now, we're looking at a chip-shot FG with 10 seconds left in the game, and the Rams basically have one play to come back. Game over.
GENIE SAYS: Easiest wish ever. Nothing controversial about the play. Nothing controversial about the rule. We don't have to change anything that happened on the field. All we have to do is get the official's head out of his ass, and the result changes. The biggest no-brainer of them all. 10 out of 10
7. THE TUCK RULE
2001 AFC Divisional Round, 1/19/2002
Game Reset: 13-10 Oakland, 1:50 remaining, 1st and 10 at the OAK 42
Brady is hit by Carles Woodson, the ball pops out and is recovered by Oakland. It is initially ruled a fumble, but after further review, referee Walt Coleman correctly ruled that Brady's arm was moving forward, which at the time automatically made it an incomplete pass.
The NFL's VP of officiating, Mike Pereira, affirmed after the game that Coleman's interpretation was correct, and I have yet to see any logic-based argument saying that it was incorrect. The rule had been on the books for two years prior to the game and remained on the books for 11 seasons after.
The #FootballGenie rates wishes based on plausibility and likelihood of outcome, and the only way this call would have been changed is if Coleman made an error. For such a clearly-stated rule, that's not plausible.
THE GENIE SAYS: The rule was overwhelmingly approved by the NFL several years prior to the game, was interpreted correctly at the game, and remained in force for 11 seasons afterwards. The outcome of this play followed the rule exactly, and no other outcome is remotely possible. 0 out of 10
...to be continued...