So what did Matt Dodge do after becoming - rightly or wrongly - the poster boy for the Giants' collapse against the Eagles on Sunday afternoon?

He went home, ordered some pizzas and opened Christmas presents with his family, which had come up for a holiday visit.

"At first, I didn't want to do it," he said in the locker room Monday, the day after his line-drive punt to DeSean Jackson was returned 65 yards for the winning touchdown as time expired. "They didn't say anything like 'Why didn't you kick it out of bounds?' That probably would have set me off. They were just very supportive."

The Giants generally have been supportive, too - other than Tom Coughlin's much-replayed sprint to get in Dodge's face and demand an immediate explanation for why the punt did not go out of bounds as ordered. Dodge said he's received numerous texts from players and coaches telling him to keep his head up and not allow that one punt to define his season.

"It's easy to scrutinize him on that, but it's also important to keep in mind that it's not Matt's fault," long snapper Zak DeOssie said.

"There's no fault on him," cornerback Terrell Thomas said. "He's our rookie punter. We have to take care of him, not the other way around."

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Still, Dodge did say that when he arrived at work Monday morning, he made sure he still had a locker at the Giants' facility. "I wouldn't have been surprised," Dodge said of possibly finding out he'd lost his job. "I wasn't like, 'Do I have a plane ticket to leave tomorrow just in case?' But there's legitimate concern every week. This is a very high-performance job, and if you don't get it done . . . Obviously, on that last punt, I didn't get it done, but by God's grace, I'm still here."

Coughlin said he will stick with Dodge, although he has changed his approach somewhat. Early in the season, when Dodge was shanking punts and dropping snaps, Coughlin focused on trying to build his confidence. Lately, and especially after this game, he has become more stern with the rookie.

"I told him to get his dauber up and move on," Coughlin said. "That's over. We can't do anything about it. I said, 'You have to figure out how to do the things that I ask you to do.' He's no more to blame than me or anybody else."

Safety Antrel Rolle pointed instead to a defense that allowed three touchdowns on the Eagles' final three drives to set up the winning punt return.


"It should have never come down to Matt having to kick the ball out of bounds," Rolle said, adding a reference to the unsuccessful kicker from the film "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.'' "I know he felt like Ray Finkle, but it's not on Matt."