If there’s a snap shot that encompasses the Giants’ three-week spiral out of the NFC playoff picture, perhaps it’s DeSean Jackson’s 65-yard punt return for a touchdown as time expired on Dec. 19 that gave the Eagles a comeback win for the ages in the New Meadowlands, one from which the Giants never fully recovered.
Matt Dodge, the guy who mistakenly punted the ball to Jackson instead of booting it out of bounds, seemed to acknowledge the tenuous hold he has on the Giants starting punting job when he talked to ESPNNewYork.com after the Giants’ 17-14 win over Washington on Sunday night.
When asked about his plans for the offseason, Dodge said, “hopefully I’m still around, that’d be great.”
Dodge reportedly signed a four-year deal with the Giants after the team selected him in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. He showed promise at times in 2010, but was also extremely erratic. Dodge’s worst punts also seemed to come at the worst times for the Giants, the boot to Jackson in particular.
Tom Coughlin famously ran onto the field to ream out Dodge after he punted to Jackson with 14 seconds to play in the fourth quarter instead of kicking it out of bounds, like the coach had instructed him to do.
“There’s no kind of screw up that I can say I didn’t get to experience this year, so that will help me a lot,” Dodge said. “I went into this season with a lot unknown and now I’ve got my share of crazy experiences so I think I’ll be better for it.”
Dodge punted seven times on Sunday against the 'Skins, landing two inside the 20-yard line. His longest was 53 yards and he averaged 41.6 yards per punt. He entered Sunday’s games ranked fifth in the NFC with a 45.1 average. He had just 18 kicks land inside the 20, the second-fewest in the conference. He also finished 30th in the NFL in net average (33.7).
Dodge said on Sunday that he realized that his kick to Jackson may have made him the poster boy for the Giants’ late-season collapse, but he said he wouldn’t let that perception bother him.
“People are entitled to say whatever they want. I’m not going to lose any sleep over it,” he said. “It was an unfortunate part of the game but we still had another chance the next week to get into the playoffs. There’s a lot of things you can look at throughout the season. If that’s the biggest thing they want to point out, they’re more than welcome to do that.”
There was plenty of speculation after the Philly game that Dodge would be cut. He survived that debacle and Coughlin was extremely supportive with him for most of the year.
“Until I hear differently, I’m a New York Giant so that’s kind of my mindset,” he said when asked about the offseason. “I’m not going to walk around with my phone, wondering when they’re going to call and say ‘Hey, you’re coming back. Or, ‘Hey, you’re not.’"
If he is brought back, Dodge said he will “work my tail off every day and get in the best shape possible and put myself in the best position to be a great punter next year.”