A Night of Redemption for David Wilson, Jim Cordle
Running back David Wilson and offensive lineman Jim Cordle couldn’t be any more different.
One is a smallish scat back runner who’s lighting-quick while the other is a big bulky lineman who would have his troubles in a footrace.
One is a first round draft pick while the other was an undrafted free agent who made a stop on the Giants’ practice squad before finally being promoted to the 53-man roster.
In addition, one has a Super Bowl ring while the other has yet to experience an NFL playoff game.
However, the one thing both men have in common is that at one point this season, their actions cost their team a game. This week, both men found redemption on the same field, against the same team.
Wilson, you might remember, had a critical fumble against the Cowboys back in Week 1. That fumble landed him in the coaches’ doghouse, where he remained for several weeks, his chances limited only to special teams.
He finally appeared to be ready to emerge from the doghouse when André Brown was lost to a broken leg. However, the Giants instead signed veteran running backs, Ryan Torain and Kregg Lumpkin as Wilson continued to wait for his chance.
The rookie, whose biggest knock was his grasp of the pass blocking assignments, found himself working after practice with second-year fullback Henry Hynoski, who quizzed his young running back mate daily on the various assignments involved in the pass block. While Wilson made progress in that area, the coaches still seemed not to fully trust him to handle anything more than running the ball as a change-up to starter Ahmad Bradshaw or as a decoy.
However, he kept on plugging away.
“He did a phenomenal job,” Hynoski said of his pupil. “He had a lot of confidence and I think things are starting to slow down for him now and it was good to have that sense of confidence with him in there. David had to wait his turn. I know it was frustrating for him but now I think he has really shown what he’s capable of.”
Wilson’s performance, which included 13 carries for 100 yards and two rushing touchdowns plus four kickoff returns for 227 yards including a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, finished with 327 all-purpose yards, a new franchise record for a single game, topping the old mark of 303 was set by Domenik Hixon at New Orleans on Oct. 18, 2009.
The first round draft pick also became the first player in NFL history with at least 200 kickoff return yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game. And if that wasn’t enough, his 227 kickoff return yards (on four runbacks) was the third-highest single-game total in Giants history, surpassed only by Willie Ponder’s 259 yards vs. Pittsburgh on Dec. 18, 2004 and Hixon’s 230 yards at New Orleans in 2009, plus his 1,321 kickoff yards is a team record, topping Hixon’s 1,291 yards in 2009.
In all, it was a dream performance for the rookie out of Virginia Tech, who joked in his post game press conference that maybe his falling asleep last night to the ESPN profile on Bo Jackson infiltrated his subconscious.
“I fell asleep watching the Bo Jackson thing on ESPN, so maybe I was dreaming a bit about that,” he said with a smile. “To come out and have a breakout game like this, it’s an excellent feeling.”
As for his kickoff return success, Wilson, who broke one in practice on Friday, revealed that this past week, special teams coordinator Tom Quinn, who normally hands out assignment sheets, didn’t give him one.
“I went to ask him, ‘ Coach, where’s my assignment sheet?’” Wilson recalled. “He said, ‘You don’t need one – just run fast.’
“I think I’m done with the assignment sheets,” he added with a chuckle.
Cordle’s redemption – he was the guilty party last week who committed two costly holding penalties that nullified excellent kickoff returns by Wilson and put the Giants in a hole–won’t show up on the stat sheet , but when the team looks at the film, it should be right there, plain as day.
All he did was throw efficient block after block, including a big one on Wilson’s kickoff return for the score, taking advantage of the second chance the coaches gave him.
“It was a painful week and it was tough all week,” Cordle said of his well-publicized gaffes against the Redskins. “When we came back on Wednesday and after meetings, we went out for the walk through and I was still on kickoff returns, so that was a good sign.”
Cordle said he didn’t dwell on the mistakes; instead, he used them as motivation to get better.
“I think on the first holding last week, I didn’t set up on the ball well. The other one on the sideline when David hit it straight and we set up over there and just had a vertical, I didn’t get my hands inside.
“On David’s touchdown, it was the same kind of return (as the holding penalty vs. Washington), but I hit it square, kept my hands inside, and he took it to the house.
Cordle also alertly fell on a muffed kickoff by Jerrel Jernigan.
“I was in his way, so that was my fault,” he said sheepishly. “You’re not supposed to back up, but when I looked up, I thought it was going to landing front of me, so I guess my return ruined our average.”
Given the outcome of the game, the Giants will likely forgive Cordle for his gaffe.