Aug. 20, 2017
NFL: What If David Tyree Dropped The "Helmet Catch"?
Image Courtesy Of The Sports Post.
NFL: What If David Tyree Dropped The Helmet Catch?
This is an experiment of what could have happened if just one NFL season ended with a different result. What really could have happened is staggering. Obviously, this is fictional and only one possible combination of events. So, what could have happened? Let’s break it down into seasons, and see how this game could have impacted the next 10 NFL seasons.
2007 - The Patriots finish the greatest NFL season of all time at 19-0 with a 14-10 victory over the Giants in the Super Bowl. This marked the team’s 4th Super Bowl victory. Disappointed, the Titans let Kerry Collins walk, and he’s signed by Detroit. They still finish as the AFC’s 2nd seed the next season.
Scenario Super Bowl Score: New England 14-10 New York
2008 - As Super Bowl victors, the Patriots play the Indianapolis Colts in Gillette on Thursday Night rather than against Kansas City. As a result, quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t get injured, and the Patriots finish as the AFC’s top seed at 14-2. This also forces the Dolphins out of the playoffs and mean the Patriots will (spoilers!) have made the playoffs in 14 consecutive seasons by the time we get to 2017. In other news, the Patriots never showcase Matt Cassel to the league, so they never trade him and subsequently don’t sign undrafted free agent Brian Hoyer. During the playoffs, the Patriots take out San Diego before losing the AFC Championship to Roethlisberger’s Steelers, who go on to win the Super Bowl over the Cardinals. Speaking of the Cardinals, they keep quarterback Kurt Warner, while the Titans let a playoff-disappointment (and 36-year-old) Kerry Collins walk. Detroit doesn’t finish 0-16, instead going 4-12 under Kerry Collins. The Titans then sign UDFA Brian Hoyer, who beats Young in the quarterback race.
Scenario Super Bowl Score: Pittsburgh 27-23 Arizona
2009 - After the retirement of Kerry Collins, the Lions draft Mark Sanchez, which means he’ll never play the Patriots on the day of the infamous “buttfumble.” Darn. First overall is, rather than 4-12 Detroit, the 1-15 Rams, who select Matthew Stafford. The team eventually races to a 7-9 season, while Hoyer’s Titans finish 9-7, beating out the Jets for the AFC’s 6th seed.
In the NFC, both Green Bay and Minnesota make the playoffs, where Favre is vanquished by his understudy Aaron Rodgers. At the same time, Dallas loses to New Orleans, who eventually lose the NFC Championship Game to Green Bay when Rodgers doesn’t make the mistake of throwing the ball right into the heart of the Saints’ defense. The Bengals outmatch the Ravens in the playoffs (yes, that means they win a playoff game), and the Patriots fend off Hoyer’s Titans. The Colts eventually defeat Carson Palmer and the Bengals before losing to the Patriots in the AFC Championship. Thereby, the Super Bowl is, rather than Colts-Saints, a matchup fans have been looking for for years - Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers. The Patriots’ high-weaponry offense defeats Green Bay in a Super Bowl XXXI rematch, while the Lions stutter in Sanchez’s first season. The Lions fall to worst, draft Sam Bradford, and cut Sanchez.
Scenario Super Bowl Score: New England 27-20 Green Bay
2010 - Fed up with his underperforming, the Giants deal Eli Manning to the Cards and draft Andy Dalton ahead of Cincinnati, who chooses Colin Kaepernick instead. The Jaguars draft Jake Locker, the Vikings draft Blaine Gabbert, and the 49ers draft Ryan Mallett. With Manning, the Cardinals finish as the 4th seed at 9-7, knocking the Seahawks off and meaning no Marshawn Lynch “Beast Mode” run against the Saints. Faltering, the Jets fail again to make the playoffs, opening the door for the Chargers, who lose quickly to Peyton Manning and the Colts. Pittsburgh still loses the Super Bowl, but it’s to a different opponent - the New Orleans Saints. Looking for anything, the Jets add Patriots’ backup Matt Cassel, who proceeds to be average.
Scenario Super Bowl Score: New Orleans 38-34 Pittsburgh
2011 - The offseason after the Super Bowl proves notable. A post-injury Peyton Manning signs with the pleading Tennessee Titans, who deal Brian Hoyer to the Jets. Meanwhile, the draft’s top two are still Luck and Griffin. Below them, the Dolphins still take Tannehill, the Seahawks still take Wilson, and the Broncos still take Osweiler to push for Tim Tebow’s job. The playoffs are shaken up, as dual-threat QB Colin Kaepernick leads the Bengals to a 12-4 record, pushing Baltimore to 5th and Pittsburgh to 6th. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rams get the NFC’s 6th seed with Matthew Stafford, losing to New Orleans in the Wild Card Game. The conference championships shake out to Cincinnati-New England (yes, Cincinnati is winning several playoff games!) and Arizona-Green Bay. While Eli Manning’s passing attack with Larry Fitzgerald is no match for Aaron Rodgers, Colin Kaepernick is given no answer by the Patriots as the Bengals fly high into the Super Bowl with a 34-31 win. However, that’s where this stops: the Packers stop Kaepernick’s magical run with a 29-21 win over Cincinnati.
Scenario Super Bowl Score: Green Bay 29-21 Cincinnati
2012 - With Peyton Manning, the Tennessee Titans notch a 10-6 record, behind Kaepernick’s 11-5 Bengals. Manning’s Titans thereby push the real Super Bowl champion Ravens out of the playoffs entirely! Without Kaepernick, and still with Alex Smith, the 49ers go 10-6, third in the division behind 11-5 Arizona and Seattle. However, Arizona is the only NFC West team to last multiple games, beating the 49ers and Packers to reach the NFC Championship. Here, they beat the 13-3 Falcons, while in the other conference the Patriots lose the AFC Championship to the Colts. There it is: Andrew Luck and the former team of Peyton Manning against Eli’s Cardinals. The Cardinals’ passing attack proves too much, and Eli gets his first ring.
Scenario Super Bowl Score: Arizona 38-27 Indianapolis
2013 - Kaepernick’s Bengals finish 13-3 as the AFC’s top seed, trailed by the 12-4 Patriots. While the Chargers go 10-6 and win their division, the Broncos go 9-7 with Brock Osweiler. Alex Smith’s 49ers make a playoff push, but ultimately lose to the Seahawks. The Super Bowl is Pittsburgh vs. Seattle, as Denver fails to boast as good an offense with Osweiler rather than Manning, losing to the Patriots in the divisional round. Pittsburgh wins in this scenario, shutting down Lynch & co. The offseason begs to be just as eventful. The Jaguars still draft Blake Bortles, while the disappointing, Alex Smith-less Chiefs draft Teddy Bridgewater to captain the team. Desperate for a quarterback, the Texans get Derek Carr by trading back into the bottom of the first round with Minnesota. The Vikings take Manziel, and New England still lands Jimmy Garoppolo.
Scenario Super Bowl Score: Pittsburgh 28-26 Seattle
2014 - The Sam Bradford-Nick Foles trade still happens, but Foles’ Lions bomb out and reach 2nd worst to Tampa Bay. Bradford remains an Eagle while the Lions deal Foles to Tennessee to back up an aging Peyton Manning. Tampa still drafts Winston, while Detroit selects Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. Andy Dalton’s Giants, as the NFC’s 3rd seed, make a short playoff push that ends with a loss to Matt Stafford’s Rams. The Patriots beat Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship due to changed seeding (NE, PIT, KC, IND, CIN, BAL), while the Seahawks still make an improbable comeback against Green Bay. Things look dire though, as the Patriots win Super Bowl 49 with an interception on the one-yard-line from Malcolm Butler. To back up Manziel, the Vikings sign Brian Hoyer.
Scenario Super Bowl Score: New England 28-24 Seattle
2015: As a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, Teddy Bridgewater’s gruesome, season-ending injury never happens, but his Vikings slip to worst in the NFL after the team trusts Manziel for too many games, in which he recorded a 1-11 record. Meanwhile, the Browns don’t trade pick no. 2, and draft Wentz themselves, and the Bengals find a replacement for a problematic Colin Kaepernick in Paxton Lynch. While the playoffs remain nearly the same, the Vikings fall, leaving a playoff spot for the 8-8 Falcons, who promptly lose in the playoffs. The playoffs are from there similar, as Cam Newton’s 15-1 Panthers lose to Eli Manning’s Cardinals in the NFC Championship, who face the Patriots, who defeat Brock Osweiler’s Broncos. The Patriots lose the game in a close matchup to Eli Manning. Meanwhile, late in the draft, the Cowboys trade up successfully to draft Connor Cook, so the Carr-less Raiders “settle” for Dak Prescott. The Vikings take Jared Goff first overall, while notably without a second ring, Peyton Manning retires as a Titan.
Scenario Super Bowl Score: New England 23-26 Arizona
2016 - With Dak Prescott, the Raiders win the AFC West at 12-4 when Prescott doesn’t break his leg (neither does Mariota or Carr). Meanwhile, the Cowboys reach the NFC’s top seed when the team sits Romo for the preseason due to concern. In the NFC North, a new upstart team rises as Mariota’s Lions beat out the Packers, while the Rams and Matt Stafford make the playoffs again. Stafford makes a deep playoff run with the now-Los Angeles Rams, but they lose to the Falcons. In the end, the Patriots defend their title with a 34-28 Super Bowl win over the Falcons to capture their second Super Bowl victory in three years.
Scenario Super Bowl Score: New England 34-28 Atlanta
Recap: The All-Time Super Bowl Standings
1. New England Patriots - 7
2. Pittsburgh Steelers - 6
T-3. Dallas Cowboys - 5
T-3. San Francisco 49ers - 5
5. Green Bay Packers - 4 (Giants would have 2, not 4)