The New York Giants are going to the Super Bowl and it’s largely credited to the mistakes in the San Francisco 49ers punt return game. But those turnovers were part of some extremely dirty and questionable tactics from the G-Men.
Kyle Williams had two fumbles that directly led to 10 points in a 20-17 game and the Giants might have had it in mind to attack Williams well prior to kickoff.
According to Benjamin Wallace-Wells of New York Magazine, a few players admitted during joyous post-game interviews that they were planning to headhunt the 49ers’ return man.
Jacquian Williams, who forced the second and most crucial fumble, admitted that there was no noticeable flaw in Kyle Williams’ technique or the team’s return scheme.
It was something more sinister.
"The thing is, we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game."
Devin Thomas, another special teamer, elaborated on this.
According to Steve Politi with the Star-Ledger,
“He’s had a lot of concussions. We were just like, ‘We gotta put a hit on that guy,’ ” Thomas said. “(Tyler) Sash did a great job hitting him early and he looked kind of dazed when he got up. I feel like that made a difference and he coughed it up.”
Politi reported that Giants’ GM Jerry Reese said,
“Some guys you don’t expect to make big plays. That’s the way you win championships.”
Sure, the Giants might have got a win this way, but it's foul play and those aren’t the kind of tactics the league will tolerate.
The NFL higher-ups must certainly keep an eye out for players and teams using headhunting methods to try and gain an advantage.
It’s dangerous and dirty, something the league has been trying to move away from in the Roger Goodell era.
The G-Men were lucky this time that nothing will happen, but it would be shocking to see it go unmonitored in the Super Bowl and beyond.