Tom Quinn’s lingering memory from the Giants’ NFC title win in Green Bay in January 2008 is not the game-winning field goal by Lawrence Tynes that sent the team to the Super Bowl. Or even the two field-goal attempts he missed earlier. No, the special-teams coordinator — then and now — has his mind immediately go to a play very few remember when thinking about that epic contest.
“We had a fumble by R.W. McQuarters in the fourth quarter when the score was tied that [Domenik Hixon] recovered,” Quinn recalled on Thursday. “It was a huge play that nobody talks about. We returned the ball to the 42 or 43 [it was actually to the Packers’ 38] with about two minutes to go [2:15, to be exact] to win the game right there. We fumbled it, it went back behind the 50 and [Hixon] was right on it.”
Michael Johnson also played a big role in that play, knocking the ball away from Packer Jarrett Bush as he came close to recovering it. The Giants didn’t score at the end of regulation — Tynes missed that field goal — but neither did the Packers and the Giants won it in overtime.
The lesson from that experience for this week, then, is to take good care of the ball in the cold. That, Quinn said, is the biggest difficulty when it comes to playing in frigid temperatures.
“We just want to make sure anyone who handles the ball secures it,” Quinn said. “It’ll be a battle. Mental toughness will come into play for all the specials.”
As for kicking, Quinn said it is tough to play in such conditions. And equally tough to prepare for them. Unlike quarterbacks and receivers and running backs who can work with frozen footballs during the week, Giants kicker Robbie Gould and punter Brad Wing will not be practicing with those blocks of ice.
“You bruise their feet if you do that,” Quinn said. “We’ll kick cold balls when we have to.”