Riley Dixon’s last-minute punt helped Giants avoid disaster
There were 31 seconds remaining and the Giants were clinging to a 38-35 lead when Adam Humphries went back to field a punt for the Buccaneers.
“Originally they had ‘10’ back there and it was I’m just gonna try to pin ’em deep and make them go a long ways,” Giants punter Riley Dixon told The Post.
After an intentional delay-of-game penalty on the Giants, No. 10 trotted off the field for the Bucs and No. 11 took his place. Boos and jeers cascaded down at MetLife Stadium on DeSean Jackson, one of the most despised and feared Giants opponents of the past decade.
“My reaction was the same as the people gulping, because I saw the other side of it once,” said Pat Shurmur, a former Eagles offensive assistant coach.
The instructions to Dixon changed.
“When he came on the field, especially late in the game, close ballgame, obviously don’t let him touch it,” Dixon said, smiling. “Let it rip and put it in the end zone and get out here.”
That is exactly what Dixon did. The touchback prevented Jackson from getting his hands on the ball and soon enough, the Giants were winners.
After “The Fumble” in 1978, Jackson’s 65-yard punt return for a touchdown Oct. 19, 2010, resides near the top of Giants heartbreak history.
It was the NFL’s first-ever first “walk-off” punt return and it punctuated a titanic collapse. The Giants led 31-10 before the Eagles scored 28 points in the final 7:28. With the game tied at 31 with 14 seconds left, rookie punter Matt Dodge was told to kick the ball out of bounds. He took a high snap and sent a 36-yard line drive directly at Jackson. After the haunting return, Tom Coughlin screamed at Dodge: “I said out of bounds!”
Dixon was in high school when Dodge committed that punting sin.
“I’ve seen it,” he said. “I’m a football fan and I’ve watched punters for however long I can remember.”
Dixon’s punt went for 46 yards. Take away 20 yards for the touchback and the net average is an unimpressive 26 yards.
“Not good for the stats,” Dixon said. “But good for winning.”