A gem of a play
In a postseason of defense, Sehorn's play stands out
Updated: Thursday January 25, 2001 10:38 AM
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
TAMPA, Fla. -- If there is one play that typifies the New York Giants' gritty season, a season that began with promise, slid close to mediocrity, then took off into this Sunday's Super Bowl, you'd have to look at the Giants' defense.
That makes the choice easy. There's really no question. In a season dominated by defense, culminating in a Super Bowl that may see nothing but that, Jason Sehorn's interception against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC divisional playoff game on January 7 wins Play of the Year.
"You won't see a play like that," says Giants cornerback Dave Thomas, "ever again in the NFL."
As the Giants prepare to meet the defense-mad Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV here Sunday night, the play still resonates. It is, in many minds, the most spectacular interception in the history of the Giants. Many, like Thomas, think it might be the best ever.
It began as an all-out dive, rolled into a tip drill, morphed into an acrobatic rise from the turf and finished, 32 yards later, in a touchdown that pretty much sealed the win over the Eagles.
Even Sehorn stops in wonderment now when he thinks about it.
"Lots of players on this team just kind of looked at the replay on the sidelines going 'I don't know how [he] did that,'" Sehorn says. "That's one of those plays where I don't know how I did that. So I'm right there with them."
Truth be told, though, Sehorn was in complete control the whole play. It started when Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb tried to hook up with wide receiver Torrance Small on a sideline route in the second quarter of the game at Giants Stadium.
Sehorn, racked by injuries in recent years yet still considered one of the best athletes in the league, sniffed the route and dove for the almost perfectly placed pass. He knocked it away and, as he rolled to the turf, he had the presence of mind to tip the deflection back in the air.
It was a fluky play, but this was no fluke.
"All I remember is diving for the ball, then getting up," he says. "I don't remember the in-between part. I know, after watching on the replays, your first reaction is to keep the ball alive. I just wanted to tip the ball to myself."
The ball fluttered in the air and Sehorn, temporarily on his back but immediately rising from the grass, plucked it out of the air, avoided one of his teammates and ran down the sidelines for the score.
"You just have to be at the right place at the right time," Sehorn says.
The thing is, Sehorn made sure he was at the right place at the right time. And then he made sure he would make the play.
"Now I know this. When I saw it on TV replay, on a clear screen, my eyes were the size of softballs," he says. "My pupils were [focused] on the ball."
Says Thomas: "Having the presence of mind of getting up while you're about to recover the ball -- that's something special."
Sehorn says he may never make another play as good. He certainly doesn't expect it. But he's glad he was there for that one.
"The nice thing about having that play is people always ask me, 'What's your greatest play, or your greatest moment?'" he says. "I've got mine now."
On to the Super Bowl Day at a Glance and this question. Hyped out yet?
The answer: If not, you will be. You will be.