The Super Bowl is an annual football tradition that’s endured since the late 1960s. While some may tune in for the commercials, loyal football fans hope for more than just their team’s victory. Each Super Bowl brings with it the promise of an amazing moment that will be talked about for generations — the all important “impossible catch.” These catches can turn the tide or keep opponents at bay. Whichever the case, they’re often uniquely unforgettable.

These five catches represent the very best in Super Bowl history.

Max McGee’s One-Armed Catch, Super Bowl I (1967)

Max McGee holds an honor that no other football player will ever share: he was the first NFL player to ever score a touchdown in a Super Bowl. The catch could have made it onto this list for that reason alone, but it just so happened to be an amazing moment on its own. Despite having a Kansas City Chiefs player leaping towards him, McGee maintains his nerve and reaching behind with just one arm, manages to grab hold of the football.

The angle of the grab should have made the ball nearly impossible to catch, let alone hold onto, but McGee does both and dashes away for his history-making touchdown.

Lynn Swann Takes Flight, Super Bowl X (1976)

Swans are some of the most majestic, graceful birds in nature. Perhaps the name lent a bit of a psychological edge to prolific Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver and Pro Football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann. Swann was always known for rising over the heads of frustrated defenders to make incredible catches. One of his most famous achievements came by way of Super Bowl X. Remembered as the “Levitating Leap,” Lynn Swann’s catch is routinely named as one of the best catches ever. However, Swann himself wasn’t quite as impressed as onlooking football fans.

Said Swann, “I’ve always said if I had done it right, I would have caught the ball the first time, came down and kept running for a touchdown.” This from a man who wasn’t expected to play at all after suffering a concussion during the Steelers’ AFC Championship game against the Oakland Raiders.

David Tyree’s “Helmet Catch,” Super Bowl XLII (2008)


The question asked again and again, no matter how many times one sees the above clip. Every aspect of the play is simply incredible. First, there’s Giants quarterback Eli Manning defying what many thought was an almost certain sack. Then there’s Manning breaking free and throwing the ball way down the field, a sort of “Hail Mary.” The play ends with wide receiver David Tyree’s bold leap into the air and using his own helmet to maintain his hold on the football.

It was part of the game-winning drive that sealed the fate of the previously undefeated New England Patriots. Although not the touchdown pass, it was certainly the play that put the Giants on the path to victory.

Julio Jones’ Nail-Biting Sideline Catch, Super Bowl LI (2017)

Had the Atlanta Falcons held off the New England Patriots, then Julio Jones’ sideline catch might have been remembered as the catch of the game. That it’s one of the best catches of Super Bowl LI, and best catches in Super Bowl history is of little consolation to Jones or the Falcons.

Despite making plays like the above, the Falcons blew a 25-point lead, allowing the Patriots to make the most epic comeback in Super Bowl history.

Julian Edelman’s Miraculous Reflexes, Super Bowl LI (2017)

It may take a few years — and a few more Super Bowls — to allow this catch to be properly viewed in the context of decades. For now, it’s easy to see why Edelman’s catch is a contender for the best Super Bowl catch ever.

To begin, the catch was itself a tipped-football away from being an interception. Had it happened, the Falcons might have successfully held off the Patriots and ultimately won. Instead, Julian Edelman’s reflexes went to work. He didn’t just manage to dive in time to grab the football; he also reacted fast enough to get a grip on the ball when it was barely a couple of inches off the ground. It was a suspenseful moment, one that some feel marked the beginning of the Patriots’ surprising comeback.

These catches are special in their own way. Some may argue that one is greater than the over for one reason or another. However, there is one thing that everyone can agree on: The sheer magic of these Super Bowl catches will never be forgotten.