Giants Fans Still Booing Matt Dodge for Punting to DeSean Jackson Last Year

The best part about a new season is the opportunity for a fresh start. Even teams like the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers head into week 1 filled with confidence and optimism. Mistakes from previous years are forgotten. Fans forgive players who cost them the season before — except in New York.

As you may remember, Giants punter Matt Dodge became infamous last season when he punted to the dangerous DeSean Jackson at the end of regulation.  Jackson took the kick to the house and sent the game to overtime, where the Eagles put the finishing touches on a miraculous comeback.

Dodge is still hearing it from Giants fans eight months later.  Tom Coughlin, who reportedly shunned Dodge from the locker room after the disastrous loss, came to the defense of his punter on Wednesday.

“First of all, he’s got to prove it, I understand all of that,” Coughlin told the Star-Ledger. “(But) it’d be good to think a guy playing in that uniform, at home, would be well received by his fans.”

Did Dodge make a mistake punting to Jackson? I don’t think there’s any debating that.  However, the coverage team still failed to make a play but fans don’t boo any of the other special teamers.  Letting Dodge hear about it last year is reasonable and any fan base probably would have done it, but it’s time to let it go.

Report: Tom Coughlin Kicked Matt Dodge Out of Locker Room

On second thought, maybe Eli Manning wasn’t the loneliest man in the world on Sunday.  No doubt he was pretty lonely in that press room, but at least he wasn’t ordered into solitary confinement.  After he punted the ball to DeSean Jackson on Sunday and put the nail in the Giants coffin, Matt Dodge probably felt more alone — especially when Tom Coughlin kicked him out of the locker room.

As Deadspin pointed out, Howard Eskin tweeted on Monday that Coughlin walked into the locker room after the Giants loss and “saw his punter in tears.”  He allegedly told him to get out of the locker room and said he was no longer a part of the team.  Talk about rough.

If Eskin’s source is accurate and that’s really what happened, Coughlin owes his punter an apology.  Was it a bonehead mistake?  Absolutely.  There’s no way he should have punted it directly to one of the most dangerous return men in the game in that situation.  However, the game should have never gotten to that point.  When a team blows a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter, the blame should start with the head coach.  Allowing a team back into a game like that shows a complete lack of focus from the players and an inability of the coaching staff to keep them focused.

Obviously, Coughlin didn’t cut Dodge.  He was probably just angry and needed someone to take it out on, but he should have looked in the mirror first.

Matt Dodge Now Infamous Amongst Giants Fans for Punting to DeSean Jackson

Prior to Sunday, no NFL game had ever ended on a punt return for a touchdown. Thanks to the Giants, that streak has been broken.

After blowing a 31-10 lead with 7:28 left in the game, the Giants were punting on the final play of regulation to try and send the contest to overtime tied at 31. Rookie punter Matt Dodge got a high snap, hurried his punt, and kicked it to return man DeSean Jackson. Jackson got a great block that took out three Giants players and handled the rest, recording his fourth career punt return for a touchdown.

The Eagles somehow pulled off the 38-31 miracle comeback victory and the Giants probably still don’t know what happened. As for Dodge, his status is probably more certain than anyone else; we’ll be shocked if he’s still employed on Monday. Dodge did not blow the 21-point lead in the 4th quarter, but he was instructed to punt the ball out of bounds away from Jackson and he failed to come through.

You better believe that’s the last time the Giants use a draft pick on the punter. Damn rookies. And somehow I don’t believe Giants fans will be putting together a facebook support group for him.