New York Giants flashback: Domenik Hixon stepped up


Domenik Hixon’s 2007 season began on about as dark a note as anyone could have imagined. While returning a kick Week 1 for the Denver Broncos, he attempted to break a tackle from Buffalo’s Kevin Everett. Their helmets collided, and Everett sustained a spinal injury that nearly took his life.

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And four weeks later, Hixon was released–without a team, and still shaken by the confusion and guilt in one of the most horrific plays in NFL history. But it was from there that the Giants scooped him up, and Hixon would have brighter days ahead.

He found a role with the Giants: operating as the team’s third receiver while Steve Smith was injured, and a returner on punts and sometimes kicks for a team looking for an identity on special teams. And it was in Week 17 when he solidified himself as one of the Giants’ true scoring weapons when he returned a punt for 74-yards in the team’s 38-35 loss to the undefeated Patriots.

Hixon would go on to have a solid 5-year career for the Giants. He set career highs in catches (43) and yards (596) following the Giants’ 2007 Super Bowl run, and he was a very reliable return man for the seasons he was in New York. He also took home two Super Bowl rings. Quite a nice resume for a guy who in 2007 looked like he was on the cusp of never playing another NFL down.

This week’s Flashback brings fans back to the 2008 season. It was the best game of Hixon’s career, and it came at a time where the Giants were losing one of their stars and needed a player to step up.

Hixon’s 250-yard Blowout Against Arizona – Nov. 23, 2008

Hixon had established himself as a legitimate return man at this point. It’s not even that he returned that many kicks this season–he was being use as a receiver.

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And the reason he was playing so much on offense? Plaxico Burress was giving the team a lot of trouble. Plax didn’t want to practice, he was suspended one game, and he battled nicks and injuries, ultimately leading to him accidentally shooting himself in the leg a week later.

On this day, Burress left the game early with an injury after catching one ball, and that’s when Hixon stepped in. He caught a mediocre 6 passes for 57 yards on the day in Burress’ place, but it was his work on special teams where he really made his mark. 221 yards on three kick returns, and 21 on two punt returns continued to put the team in scoring position. It was one of the great special team performances in Giants history.

His huge performance assured Giants fans they had a legitimate threat in the slot, and their offense was one of the league’s best. Further, once Burress injured himself via a self-inflicted gunshot, it gave fans a peace of mind that they had a, while less talented, legitimate receiver stepping in for Burress.

The Giants season ended in disappointing fashion when their offense stalled and their pass rush let them down, but Hixon proved to be a reliable target for Eli down the stretch and he continued to be a special teams threat for another couple of seasons.

Next: New York Giants: fresh start or same old story

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