Thankfully, Vernon Davis had access to a thesaurus or at least has a wide enough vocabulary to come up with alternate words for "catch."
Originality is not one of sports' strong points when it comes to christening great moments. In Boston, "The Steal" refers to Dave Roberts' ninth-inning stolen base in Game 4 for the 2004 ALCS, or John Havlicek's series-saving interception in Game 7 of the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals, depending on one's generation. In Chicago, Michael Jordan's iconic jump shot over Craig Ehlo is "The Shot," while folks went all-out and dubbed Jordan's jumper over Bryon Russell "The Final Shot."
Gee, how long did it take everybody to come up with those?
In San Francisco, there's "The Catch," when Dwight Clark used only his fingertips to haul in a rollout pass from Joe Montana to win the 1982 NFC Championship game. When Steve Young hit Terrell Owens over the middle to beat the Packers in the 1998 Wild Card round, the play was named "The Catch II."
Oh yeah, there's also "The Catch" by Willie Mays in the 1954 World Series at the Polo Grounds. Pretty soon, we'll be counting instances of "The Catch" the way we do Super Bowls: The Catch XLVI.
With this sort of original thinking, it was not surprising to see the reaction on social media after Davis caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Alex Smith to beat the Saints 36-32 in the NFC divisional round Sunday. Twitter lit up with exclamations of "The Catch III." Since independent thought is a rare commodity on social networks, the retweeted nickname soon went viral.
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh offered, "The Throw and Catch." Um, thanks coach.
The man who caught the 14-yard dagger, however, also had one of the few unique suggestions.
"Just call it 'The Grab,'" Davis said.
That sound you heard was scribes' heads exploding in the interview room. A handful failed to mention "The Grab" in their stories, while others glossed over it and just called the play "The Catch III" anyway.
Nice job, folks. Just call this story "The Story" and this website "The Website," then call it a day.
Some alternatives to "The Catch," courtesy of Roget's Thesaurus:
The Reception. The Capture. The Clasp. The Clench. The Clutch. The Corral. The Get One's Fingers On. The Grasp. The Grip. The Lasso. The Lay Hold Of. The Nab. The Pluck. The Seize. The Snag. The Snare.
"It was a good, solid team effort."
– Patriots coach Bill Belichick, in typical understated fashion, summing up Saturday's 45-10 win over the Broncos
That would have been a start.
This is handball, and it's a sport.