This one was more of a botched hold than a missed kick, but nonetheless, it was a special teams opportunity that could have sent the Giants to Tampa Bay to face the eventual NFC champions, but unfortunately for Big Blue, long snapper Trey Junkin botched the snap and holder Matt Allen botched the hold. Had Allen tried to get the ball down, it would’ve been blocked by the 49ers. Instead, Allen rolled out right and heaved a Hail Mary toward the endzone, praying that left guard Rich Seubert would come up with the catch. He didn’t.
While the ball was in the air, Seubert was dragged to the ground by Chike Okeafor, leading many Giants’ fans to believe they’d earned a pass interference call. Re-watching the play, Okeafor’s actions certainly would qualify…if Seubert wasn’t an ineligible receiver. According to the NFL rulebook, pass interference can only be called if a defensive player hinders an eligible receiver’s ability to catch the ball. Although a flag was thrown, the penalty was on the Giants. The 49ers obviously declined and won the game.
Kicker Matt Bryant never got an opportunity to kick the game-winning field goal. Bryant was a rookie, but had been pretty good from long range to start his career. During the 2002 regular season, he’d gone 3-of-4 from 40-plus yards, although he had missed one from 42 yards earlier in this game. Although that kick, as well as Jeremy Shockey’s dropped touchdown with four-and-a-half minutes left in the third quarter, are what allowed San Francisco to mount their incredible comeback, the botched snap and hold are what ultimately doomed New York.