EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' special teams, led by rookie David Wilson, took aim at some long-standing records on Sunday in a 52-27 win over the visiting New Orleans Saints.
“The numbers tell it all,” defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said.
Wilson became the first NFL player with at least 200 return yards and 100 rushing yards in a single game.
His 1,321 return yards this season have already surpassed Domenik Hixon’s franchise record of 1,291. It might have been inevitable from the opening kickoff, which Wilson returned for 58 yards. He took the next return 97 yards for a touchdown, and ended with 227 return yards in the game. Jerrel Jernigan took another kickoff return 60 yards.
“Special teams definitely gave us a boost,” defensive tackle Chris Canty said. “When we had the turnover for a touchdown, special teams came right back and responded, so that’s big for our football team. It gave us that lift, it gave us that energy, we got excited but rolled that momentum.”
As much as Wilson contributed on special teams, he also was pressed into full duty at running back when Ahmad Bradshaw hurt his knee in the first quarter. Though Bradshaw returned to the game, Wilson had 13 carries for 100 yards and added two rushing touchdowns to his return score. His 327 all-purpose yards set a Giants record.
“[Wilson has] been challenged every week and it came a point where they’re not going to kick him the ball. They’re not going to give him different looks,” Hixon said. “This week [special teams coordinator Tom] Quinn emphasized a ton for everyone to do their job and just to trust each other. And so to me, I was excited after the first one; I said, ‘It’s just a matter of time,’ and it’s great to see him out there running. Field position was tremendous throughout the whole game.”
With a win in hand and the table being set nicely for the playoffs, Giants coach Tom Coughlin was in a holiday spirit after the win, and dished praise for Wilson and the special teams crew in general.
“Our kickoff return team gave us unbelievable field position, some of which we didn’t take advantage of,” Coughlin said. “Then Jernigan jumped in there and he made a play as well. So I was really pleased with that. It was good, hard, fast running, but obviously there was some good blocking as well.”