*Giants punter Brad Wing blames himself for some key errors this season: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Brad Wing usually brings just a light bag when the Giants fly, but he will be carrying some heavy baggage tomorrow when they travel to Tampa for their late Sunday afternoon game against the Buccaneers.
Although myriad reasons can be found for the Giants' two most recent losses in their 0-3 start, Wing has put the blame squarely on his shoulders – or, more accurately, on his left foot. The four-year veteran points to two of his punts as the deciding plays in the Giants' defeats to Detroit and Philadelphia. Ironically, they are his longest and shortest punts of the season.
"I think it's all fair criticism," Wing said. "I just can't wait for another game."
His blue period began early in the fourth quarter in a Sept. 18 Monday night game against the Lions. Wing blasted a 60-yard punt that might have pinned Detroit deep in its own territory in what was then a seven-point game. But rookie Jamal Agnew fielded the ball, sidestepped tackle attempts by four Giants – including one by Wing – and scored on an 88-yard return for the final score in the Lions' 24-10 victory.
"If it was out of bounds, they wouldn't have done it," Wing said of his punt. "A lot of people have said that (it was a good punt) to me, but I take full ownership of that. I'm a punter, it's the punt team and I don't want that to happen."
Wing was called upon in another crucial situation last Sunday in Lincoln Financial Field. With the score tied at 24-24, Wing punted from the Giants' 34-yard line with 19 seconds remaining. Wing said he "miss-hit it," and the ball traveled just 28 yards. Philadelphia took possession at its own 38, and after one completion, rookie Jake Elliott kicked the game-winning 61-yard field goal as time expired.
"I got a little long in my stride, and it caused my drop to be a little bit on the outside," Wing said. "So when I swung up I had a bit of a cross swing, and the ball shot up to the left.
"I had an idea just by the way the ball flew off my foot, and then it was just confirmed by watching it. You don't want to overdo it, you just kind of wash it away and remind yourself, it was the underlying thing for all of the vets here, one play doesn't determine who you are as a player. So that is kind of the mentality that you have to take with it. Just wash it."
Wing concedes that's not easy for him to do.
"I'd like to be better at that," he said. "They were two kind of different situations. Last week definitely, not that I ever blame anyone else, but last week there was nobody else to blame at all. It's 1,000 percent on me. Great snap, everything was good, protection was great, it was just a bad punt."
Wing has received much support from his teammates, most notably from the Giants' two longest-tenured players, Eli Manning and Zak DeOssie.
"I think (Manning) saw me a little bit down and he told me to keep my head up, and I just shared some personal stuff. He didn't have to do that. I am just very lucky I have a teammate like him.
"Eli, he's been through the toughest (situations). That position, he's obviously had some tough games. He told me he's had games where it's a game-winning drive, he throws an interception or doesn't complete it. If I am feeling this, I can't imagine what he's felt after games like that. But to see him able to bounce back and carry himself the way he has. He's a Super Bowl champion, he's an MVP. So to have someone like that, to know they've been through some crap and see how they can turn it around, it's pretty comforting."
DeOssie, the team's 11-year long-snapper, works closely with Wing every day. He did not want his teammate and friend to berate himself until he had the opportunity to kick against the Buccaneers.
"This game is harsh," DeOssie said. "Those returners get paid to return punts, and sometimes the cookie crumbles not the way you wanted it to, and you have to eat that. But you just have to eat it and move on, and Brad is doing it the way he wants to do it. All I can do is be here for him, and just do my best to let him do what it is he does so well.
"You get one bad break that you can think defines your performance, but at the end of the day, it is a team sport, and I try to remind him of that. That being said, everyone has their own process and how they need to digest whatever it is that happened. Brad expects the best out of himself, and he's very capable of doing very, very well and he is doing well. He just had some bad breaks. Sometimes, you just have to eat it and do it your own way. He'll bounce back, no problem. Full faith in him."
Wing is doing everything he can to mitigate his disappointment and ensure that Sunday will be a better day.
"Keep working," said Wing, whose only previous punt in Raymond James Stadium was a 64-yarder. "Just put your head down and work. There is no other way to deal with it. You got to force it behind you and keep moving forward."
*The Giants lead their regular-season series with Tampa Bay, 13-6. They Giants have a five-game winning streak in the series, including that 24-14 postseason victory in a 2007 NFC Wild Card Game, the teams' only postseason meeting. They also won regular season games vs. the Buccaneers in 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015. The Giants will visit Raymond James Stadium for the second time in three seasons. On Nov. 8, 2015, Manning threw two touchdown passes, and the Giants rallied from a pair of early deficits to defeat the Bucs, 32-18. The Giants won at Tampa Bay, 24-0, on Sept. 27, 2009, a victory that remains their most recent shutout. The Giants are 6-5 in regular-season games at Tampa Bay, where they've won three in a row.
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