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"Eli over the top for Hixon ... ohhhhh! He juggled it and caught it! Touchdown! What a play! Oh wow!" -- Mike Tirico on ESPN's "Monday Night Football"
Why do we watch sports?
To see athletes like Domenik Hixon make the impossible happen.
Hixon's acrobatic, 22-yard touchdown reception with 21 seconds left in the second quarter Monday night was shades of David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII, and then some. Hixon made the catch despite tearing his ACL on the play.
There aren't enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe just how incredible the play was.
Allow us to break down the circus catch -- or, rather, "the double tap" -- in more detail:
|Domenik Hixon kept his eye on the ball. That -- and great reflexes -- made all the difference.|
The setup: First-and-10 New York from the St. Louis 22-yard line. Twenty-nine seconds remaining in the first half. Giants leading the Rams 14-6.
The formation: The Giants are lined up in a four-receiver, one-back shotgun formation. Hixon is stationed slot right.
The route: Hixon runs what's called an "in and go." After running straight and unimpeded 10 yards down the field, Hixon makes a slight cut left at the 12, hesitating slightly before running straight again at the 9. Hixon's double move freezes Rams safety -- and former Giant -- Craig Dahl just a bit, forcing him to turn around.
Hixon finally turns his head at the 5 and looks back as quarterback Eli Manning releases the ball. Dahl, in his haste to catch up to Hixon, loses sight of the ball for a bit before picking it up as he hits the front of the end zone.
The play: Hixon begins to jump for the ball about five yards into the end zone. As Hixon is fully airborne, Manning's pass ricochets off his left shoulder pad. Realizing this, Hixon begins contorting his body back toward the ball with Dahl draped all over him.
As he's falling toward the field, Hixon, in an act of desperation, taps the ball in the air with his right hand to keep the play alive. Dahl finally passes him, and Hixon tips the ball again with his right hand before securing possession with two hands as he's laying out on the field.
Dahl dives on top of Hixon, but it's too late. The referee runs over and puts both of his arms in the air. Touchdown. The Giants have a 20-6 lead.
The aftermath: Hixon's teammates head over to congratulate him on making his first touchdown reception since Dec. 13, 2009, in Dallas before realizing that the 26-year-old wideout is hurt. He returned briefly in the third quarter before being taken out of the game for good.
The quotes: "That wasn't part of the plan," Hixon said of the juggling catch. "It happened so fast, I don't know if it hit him in the arm or hit me in the shoulder. Until I see the replay, I won't be able to tell you. At the end of the day we always say, catch the ball. I didn't want to get fined by the receivers for not catching it."
"Great reception and great concentration by him," Manning said. "We had an in and pump route on and the safety bit on the in, but we hit him a little bit on the end. Those are throws that you don't make all the time but it was a great catch by him. It was great concentration and a great catch at that moment."
"It was a heck of a play by him because there were two double catches on that drive," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "One was [Mario] Manningham and one was Hixon. It looked like Domenik made a nice move, got the position and somehow the ball got tipped up and he was able to, as he was going to the ground, come up with the catch and it was legitimate."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.