Pat Shurmur was not going to let DeSean Jackson repeat history at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants head coach was a coach on the Eagles staff in 2010 when Jackson returned a punt 65 yards for a game-winning touchdown as time expired, so when a similar situation occurred on Sunday against the Bucs, the Giants were prepared.
With 31 seconds left and the Giants up by three, punter Riley Dixon booted the ball into the end zone for a touchback, refusing to let Jackson get his hands on the ball.
“We watched the film on it (this week) just as a reminder of what he is capable of,” Dixon told NJ.com. “He got some special attention. At that point in the game, you have to take the ball out of a returner’s hands, whether that is out of bounds or, in that situation, going into the end zone was easier.”
Jackson has not had a punt return for a touchdown since that game, but that moment remains fresh in everyone’s mind.
MetLife Stadium erupted in boos when he stepped onto the field for the punt, which prompted Shurmur to make sure the special teams unit knew who was back there.
“I was jumping around, saying, ‘It’s No. 11!'” Shurmur said. “So we just wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to catch the ball.”
Long snapper Zak DeOssie — who was the long snapper for the Giants for that fateful game — was also thinking about that moment in the final minute.
“Absolutely,” DeOssie told NJ.com. “Why wouldn’t you? Before the game started, I was like, ‘If this comes down to a punt return, I know DeSean is there.’ That’s what you always think when you play against him because he is an electric player, so why wouldn’t you put him out there?”
Fortunately for the Giants, their plan to keep the ball away from Jackson worked and they escaped with a 38-35 win.