It must be an important issue if Tom Coughlin brings it up not once, but twice, early in his press conferences and on his own volition.
That's what the Giants head coach did in regards to the special teams' duty this week in winning the field position battle. Both punt and kickoff coverage have excelled in that department this season -- including their first meeting with the Cowboys -- but Coughlin didn't like what he saw from the punt unit against the Jets, bringing it up on Monday and again on Wednesday.
"Every aspect of the game is going to be very dramatic and strategically placing the ball," he said yesterday. "I expect our special teams to do a much better job of helping us create field position. Lawrence Tynes had a very good game down there a couple weeks ago and it certainly would help if he has another good game even though we are outside and the weather is a little bit different."
Tynes and the kick team limited the Jets to five returns for an average of 22.0 yards, holding them inside their own 20 three times on a 35-degree afternoon in MetLife Stadium.
Meanwhile Steve Weatherford punted nine times, and despite pinning them inside the 10-yard line twice, hung some over the middle for Jeremy Kerley. Kerley averaged 18.5 yards on four returns, including a 28-yarder and one for 22 that led to the Jets first touchdown.
"Yes, the punter was not as effective as he was the week before and he put the punt coverage team in the most difficult spot," Coughlin said on Monday. "The gunners didn't do a very good job either of getting out and getting down and in position. The punter can help in most cases with a lot of that."
Saturday provided rare blemishes for a coverage team that has more than limited a gauntlet of top tier return specialists this season. Perhaps their most notable game came against the Cowboys a few weeks ago when they limited the Cowboys to just one kickoff return and one punt return.
Tynes booted six touchbacks on seven attempts in the Dec. 11 meeting while Weatherford pinned the Cowboys inside their own 20 twice, able to keep the ball out of Dez Bryant's hands.
He'll try to do the same in winner-take-all contest on Sunday night.
"I'm going to do what I've tried to do all year – eliminate the returner," Weatherford said. "For me, it's a more important game than the last 15, but I'm not going to treat it any differently. Because when you start putting added pressure on yourself, that's when mistakes are made. So it's nothing different me."
Bryant, who had his two career punt returns for touchdowns as a rookie last season, has been on and off as the fulltime returner while sustaining injuries doing so. He is back to being the punt returner, but has yet to officially return a kick this season.
However, Tynes has to keep an eye on Bryant, who was back to return a kick as a last ditch effort in the closing seconds of the Giants' victory in Dallas. Tynes, kicking off after Brandon Jacobs' go-ahead touchdown with 46 seconds to go, hit one nine yards deep in the end zone for a touchback in the enclosed Cowboys Stadium.
"It's going to be critical," Tynes said. "I think the weather's going to be cold this time. Me and Steve have been kicking really well. So if we continue what we're doing and covering and doing some of those things with Dez Bryant, he poses a big threat. We respect all and fear none, but he's someone you have to account for."
Hit the follow botton to join the Giants community! Follow @Giants