(deep breath for the necessary 37 disclaimers here)
Yes, holding happens on almost every play in the NFL and goes uncalled. Yes, on any one play where holding does get called, there probably could have been four or five other holding calls that don’t get called. And yes, you really, REALLY don’t want a ticky-tack, “Really, bro??” call to decide any game, much less a playoff game, a championship game, or the biggest sporting event in America that should be a holiday already, the Super Bowl.
Ok, now, with THAT all out of the way, usually if you are going to hold a defensive lineman, you don’t hold them by their throat.
But buried deep in a click-baity “19-0 sounds crazy, just not with this Patriots team” article from The WorldWide Leader in Paying Billions for the College Football Playoff and then wondering why we don’t have any money, we finally get confirmation from the man himself that Giants center Shaun O’Hara was choking out Richard Seymour on Eli’s scramble before Eli wound up and Brett Favre’d it downfield, and....well, you know.
Let’s let O’Hara tell it!
The tape of the game must have made the result even more haunting. On the Manning escape, the New England rush overwhelmed nearly the entire Giants offensive line. Jarvis Green exploded past Shaun O'Hara to the center's left and plowed through left guard Rich Seubert, and Richard Seymour looped behind Jarvis Green and beat O'Hara to his right. The offensive linemen tried to play the rush as if they were switching on a basketball pick-and-roll, and they failed miserably. As Seymour and Green converged on the immobile Manning, O'Hara said he saw "Eli curl up in the fetal position, which he normally does," and then thought, "OK, we're probably going to lose this game."
But as Manning kept moving his feet and staying alive, struggling to break free from the grasp of both New England rushers, a desperate O'Hara slid his gloved right hand onto Seymour's throat. "I said, 'Screw it,'" the Giants center would recall. "I was squeezing his trachea as hard as I could and not letting go." Choked by a 300-pound man, Seymour was temporarily disabled for the split-second that allowed Manning to get away. O'Hara gambled that the officials would miss his WWE move, and miss it they sure as hell did. If they threw a flag there, the Patriots would have ended up 19-0.
Ironically, the 2016 Patriots were bailed out during their 28-3 Super Bowl comeback by a holding call in the fourth quarter, where Falcons tackle Jake Matthews was called for holding because he kind-of-sort-of had his arm around Chris Long’s neck. That knocked Atlanta way out of field goal range, even for their stud kicker Matt Bryant.
Back to Super Bowl XLII, though: Rodney Harrison probably said it best in his superb episode of “A Football Life”. Even after the Helmet Catch, “The game’s not over. They (the Giants) still had to score”.
That said, feel free to file this away for your next bar argument when your Giants fan friends go on about 2007 and say something like “It’s the Super Bowl, got to do what you got to do to win!”
Cause, you know, that other thing that happened in the 2007 season.