The Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. couldn’t have picked a better stage than playing in New York on Sunday Night Football for one of the most remarkable touchdown catches in NFL history.
The catch brought to mind a couple of one-handed grabs by former Chiefs wide receiver Otis Taylor, who didn’t play during the era of the Internet or even cable television.
The first came in 1966 against Boston when Taylor caught nine passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns. The highlight was a left-handed stab for an incredible, 26-yard touchdown in a 27-27 tie at Municipal Stadium. While running toward the flag in the right corner of the end zone, Taylor stuck out his left hand and caught a ball that quarterback Len Dawson had intended to throw out of bounds.
“Here I am trying to throw the dang thing out of bounds, and he catches it for a touchdown,” Dawson recalled. “I never said a word., After the game, I told the reporters, ‘That was the only place I could throw it because of the defense.’
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“That catch he made was out of this world,” said Patriots coach Mike Holovak. “You can classify him with the greatest.”
Years later, Taylor called it his most difficult catch.
“I didn’t know I’d get it, but I ran as hard as I could, leaped and put up my left hand,” he said. “That’s my job, to catch the ball. I might have made one or two one-hand catches this year before that one. In college I used to make a lot of them, and the coaches were on my back because I didn’t use two hands. But here, my job is to catch the ball, even if I have to use my feet. That’s my job, catching the ball.”
The second memorable catch came in the final moments of a 1971 game against Washington when Taylor caught a game-winning touchdown pass despite one arm pinned to his body by cornerback Pat Fischer, who had his arms wrapped around Taylor.
Still, Taylor reached up with his right arm and as he crossed the goal line, grabbed Dawson’s pass for a 28-yard touchdown and a 27-20 victory at Municipal Stadium.
“I don’t think I could have been any closer to him than I was,” Fischer said. “I didn’t expect him to catch the ball one-handed.”
Interference had not been called, and Taylor said the next day: “ I didn’t realize until I saw the picture in the paper Monday morning that my left arm wasn’t free.”