Giants free safety Quintin Demps reaches for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback...

Giants free safety Quintin Demps reaches for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski in the second quarter of a preseason NFL game, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: AP / Frank Franklin II

Quintin Demps summed up his goal in a few simple words.

"I gotta protect 'The Duke,' " he said.

He was referring, of course, to 'The Duke'-model football used in the NFL (and named for former Giants owner Wellington Mara). Demps fumbled a kickoff return in the first quarter that led to a Colts field goal and a 10-0 lead in Saturday night's 27-26 Giants win.

"I covered the ball up, I felt the traffic, I just didn't squeeze it as hard as I should have," he said of having the ball pried from his hands by Mike Adams. "But I covered it up with two. They just did a good job of ripping it out."

Demps took that return out from about 8 yards deep in the end zone. He denied the idea that he did so just because it is the preseason, saying that he probably would have given it a shot in the regular season, too. It was his best kickoff return of the season, reaching the 33 before the fumble.

"It's very disappointing," he said. "I'm trying to be a top guy on special teams in this league and I take pride in not fumbling. Before a touchdown, for me, the most important thing on a kickoff return is to make sure that the offense has the possession next. That's my goal every time. And then it's touchdown."

Demps was glad the coaches sent him back out for the next kickoff return.

"I'm a veteran," he said. "I might have fumbled like twice in my whole career on kickoff. I think the coaches trust me in that aspect. It's one of those things, get it out of my system now and make sure it don't ever happen again."

More Giants