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A SPECIAL PERFORMANCE

Little known before Sunday, David Tyree becomes a part of Super Bowl lore.

Little more than a special-teams player all season, David Tyree became an All-Pro in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

First, he caught a 5-yard touchdown from Eli Manning that put the Giants ahead. Then he made a tumbling, circus grab to set up a last-minute score and stunning upset Sunday over the Patriots.

"I don't know that there's ever been a bigger play in the Super Bowl than that play," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

This from a player who started the season with a broken wrist and entered the Super Bowl with more tackles than catches. And someone who overcame adversity, too. Tyree's mother died of a heart attack in mid December.

"I am a man that really has to capitalize on his few opportunities," Tyree, 28, said. "Some things just don't make sense, and I guess you can just put that catch there with them."

Surrounded by the likes of Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress, Wes Welker and Amani Toomer, he wound up as a most unlikely go-to guy.

"A lot of people call me a special-teams player. They don't give me any recognition as a wide receiver, and that is fine," Tyree said. "You tell me to do something, and I am going to go out there and do it."

And for years to come, Giants fans will surely talk about a most improbable catch.

"That play alone took a few years off my life," New York defensive end Michael Strahan said.

The Giants, down 14-10 with 1:15 left, faced third and 5 at their 44. Manning escaped two defenders, scrambled to his right and tossed it deep down the middle. Tyree jumped and with safety Rodney Harrison on his back got both hands on the ball.

Harrison slapped at the ball and momentarily pinned it to Tyree's helmet. As Tyree fell backward, he held the ball aloft to show it was his.

"My opportunities are too few and far between for me to think about dropping it. That was all supernatural," said Tyree, who is deeply religious. "I just wouldn't let go."

The 32-yard catch moved the ball to the New England 24.

"I thought the play was representative of us not really getting the breaks that we were used to getting," Harrison said.

Four plays later, Manning hit Burress for the winning score.

"David Tyree, that's all you have to say," Manning said. "It was just a great catch by David Tyree. I found a way to get loose and just really threw it up. (It) hung up forever. He made an unbelievable catch and saved the game."

Manning's brother, Peyton, went further, comparing it with the great one made by Lynn Swann for the Steelers in Super Bowl X.

"I think it was one of the greatest plays of all time," Peyton said. "You always see Swann's catch."

Tyree finished with three catches for 43 yards. In 16 regular-seasonand three playoff games, he had five catches for 39 yards and no touchdowns.

In fact, his biggest contributions had come on special teams, where he made 10 tackles (though none on Sunday).

"Unbelievable," Toomer said. "In Friday's practice, he was dropping everything."

FAST FACTS

Meet David Tyree

Born: Jan. 3, 1980, Livingston , N.J. (about 21 miles from Giants Stadium)

Acquired: Sixth-round pick out of Syracuse in 2003

NFL experience: Fifth season, all with the Giants

2007 tackles: 10 (all on special teams)

2007 catches before the Super Bowl: Five

2007 receiving yards before Super Bowl: 39, with no touchdownsSuper Bowl receiving yards: 43, with one touchdown

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