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Jerrel Jernigan shines in season finale

He caught the first. He rushed for the second. He was ready to throw for the third.

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Luckily for the Giants, Jerrel Jernigan didn't have to complete the trifecta.

The wide receiver, who came on strong for Big Blue in the final three weeks, accounted for both of the Giants' touchdowns in Sunday's 20-6 victory over the Washington Redskins. After hauling in a 24-yard touchdown from Eli Manning in the first half, Jernigan shed a few tackles on an end-around and took it 49 yards for a score to put the Giants ahead by double digits entering the fourth quarter.

In between, the Giants lost Manning to an ankle injury, leaving Curtis Painter as the lone backup dressed for the finale (Ryan Nassib was inactive on game days for all of his rookie season).

If Painter joined the mounting list of injuries on Sunday – he didn't – offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and the Giants would have turned to Jernigan, a former dual-threat quarterback out of Troy University.

"Coach Gilbride came to me, he was like, 'If Painter happens to go down, you're going to come out here and run 36 and 35 Zone,'" said Jernigan, who saw action at quarterback, H-Back, split end, slot receiver, punt returner and kick returner in college. "He was like, 'So you good with that?' I was like, 'Yeah, do I have to say the cadence?' He was like, 'No, [Kevin] Boothe has it at center.' So I was like, OK, I'll just give him the leg, I'm ready to go. I'm all good."

With the way he was playing, Jernigan probably could have held his own.

Stepping up in place of an injured Victor Cruz, Jernigan led his team in receptions and receiving yards in the final three weeks of the season. Tacking on six catches for 90 yards against the Redskins, Jernigan totaled 19 receptions for 237 yards and three touchdowns down the stretch. Prior to Week 15, Jernigan's career consisted of just 13 catches for 114 yards and no touchdowns in 29 games played.

"It's a great feeling to come out there, you know, the coaches have been telling me through the weeks that I'm getting my opportunity to go out there and make plays for the team and also just wanted to let the coaching staff and organization know that I can make plays," Jernigan said. "Victor is down or whatever, but when he comes back, I also still want to be out there when he comes back."

Jernigan and the Giants will have to wait and see on that front as they will be watching the postseason from home.

"I was really pleased with him," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "The way in which he played and the way he finished. He grew into a guy that wanted the ball and did things well with the ball when he got it. The throw from Eli to Jerrel for the touchdown catch was an excellent throw and an excellent catch among the two people in the crowd.

"Then, we were really trying to get the ball to him in that fashion in the second half in the run and it gave us the opportunity. He had a lot of yards for two runs, one of which was obviously a score. He played very well and he responded to the circumstances toward the end of the year. His play time increased and he responded very well to it and I was happy for him. The way he played – he's a tough guy and we saw that down the stretch."

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