Still buckling his chinstrap with the ball midflight, he returned the punt for 20 yards late in the fourth quarter, positioning his team for an eventual game-winning field goal on Thanksgiving Day.
Dez Bryant, the return specialist, was back.
The Cowboys rushed him onto the field at the time in place of Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (the wide receiver/returner who was cut six days later), and now Bryant becomes the latest challenge the Giants special teams have to address. At 6-foot-2, 218 pounds, he's also the biggest.
"He just makes things happen back there," long snapper Zak DeOssie said. "I think they give him a lot of freedom to do whatever he wants and run it where he sees things happen, so no scheme in particular. I mean they're a good punt return squad. I have all the respect in the world for [special teams coordinator] Joe [DeCamillis]. I also think that they give Dez Bryant a lot of freedom."
Last week DeCamillis (a former Giants coach under Dan Reeves in the mid 1990's) gave the fulltime duty back to Bryant, who has sustained multiple injuries in the past returning kicks and punts. Bryant averages 12.2 yards per punt return for his career to go along with two touchdowns, including a 93-yarder. Against Arizona last week, Bryant had three returns for 18 yards with a long of 14.
"No need to belittle anybody or create anybody," DeOssie said when asked how Bryant stacks up with other returners the Giants have faced this season. "He's good. They're all good. I feel like every single week we face somebody who is really, really exceptional on punt return. And that's how the league is going now. In years past, you wouldn't necessarily worry about a guy, but now it's every single week."
Elected special teams captain this year, DeOssie said he's having one of the best seasons of his career, which includes two Pro Bowl selections. The 27-year-old is fourth on the team with seven special teams tackles.
"It's more responsibility I feel like," DeOssie said about his leadership role. "You want to relate to everyone on the team and make sure everyone is working their butt off. But at the same time, you're leading by example. It's different in that regard, but you have to still be yourself and play the game and love it."
Standing in front of his locker decked out with Christmas decorations, he's clearly loving it.
"That's the kind of guy I am," DeOssie said. "I wouldn't expect [my teammates] to treat me differently. I've obviously garnered their respect because they voted me as captain, but I am who I am. And I'm not going to change that because of a title." Join other diehard Giants Fans!
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