- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When Victor Cruz gets on the football field, you can see the second-year wide receiver learning on the job. There are moments that can make an offensive coordinator groan. But then there are others, such as a game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of a 20-17 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday.
The kid from Paterson, N.J., is making fans everywhere, even his own locker room. Cruz was featured on the Giants' program this week. And the game was barely over before lineman Chris Snee walked across the locker room with a Sharpie and admitted his kids were Cruz fans.
"It feels awesome just to be in a position to get this opportunity," Cruz said. "In this league, opportunities come few and far between, and when you get them, you have to take advantage of them."
The Giants had trailed the winless Dolphins the entire game. Then, on third-and-12, quarterback Eli Manning found Cruz in the middle of the field. Cruz caught the pass and then shook off a firm hold from cornerback Will Allen before running into the end zone.
"It's good to know that Eli trusts you and trusts that you are going to be at the right place at the right time," Cruz said. "That is what I try to do. I try to do that every time I'm out there and every time I'm running a route. If I'm open, then hopefully he can hit me, and I know if I'm not open, then somebody else is open. He is going to hit one of our receivers."
With that 25-yard completion, the Giants had a 20-17 lead that held up for the last six minutes.
"[Cruz] is a big-play guy," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He is learning while he plays but he demonstrated once again the unique ability to get himself open and make a play for our team when we needed one. He did a nice job."
Cruz had seven catches for 99 yards, leading all receivers during an injury-plagued season. Fellow wideout Hakeem Nicks went to the locker room in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury and will have an MRI on Monday.
It was his fourth touchdown of the season, so that salsa move Cruz reserves for the end zone is starting to look familiar to Giants fans. The Spanish-speaker said he won't be switching it up now that his mother, who is Puerto Rican, told him not to.
He said the Giants have started to have fun with it, that some highlights this week were set to salsa in the film room.
After the game, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride caught Cruz in the locker room foyer. Cruz smiled as Gilbride demonstrated some footwork. And even though he probably could dust the coach in a dance-off, Cruz would rather be getting that instruction here than at any other job.
"I don't want to be on 'Dancing With the Stars' anytime soon," Cruz said.