It took him a while, but when his team needed him the most, rookie running back David Wilson came through. After struggles hanging on to the ball to start the season, Wilson, the Giants' first-round pick this year, found himself playing sparsely and, before last week, his season high rushing yards was 44 in Week 5.
But last week, with starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw injuring his knee, Wilson stepped in and carried the team. Bradshaw was in and out throughout the game, but Wilson contributed 100 yards rushing on 13 carries. He helped New York establish the running game, which in turr helped them keep their passing attack potent on their way to wiping out the New Orleans Saints 52-27.
"Any time you can establish a good running game, it helps out," New York QB Eli Manning said on Wednesday. "It puts the defense on their heels a little bit. They don't know if you're going to run or throw. It usually slows down the pass rush a little bit. Those linemen can fire off and hit those defensive linemen some. We have a great mix of the run and pass. If you can get those safeties to stay high into a shell defense because they're scared of the pass, it should open up the run and vice versa."
Wilson contributed two touchdowns on the ground, but his good work didn't end there. He totaled 227 kick return yards and followed up New Orleans' first score of the game with a 97-yard kick return touchdown. Wilson's efforts all over the field, according to Tom Coughlin, were a big reason the Giants played so well in a must-win game.
"David has been very, very close throughout this season on kickoff return and it just happened for him the other day," Coughlin said. "He had 227 yards in kickoff returns. He also had 100 yards rushing so it gave our team a big boost. Momentum was definitely there and field position was created by his returns. Then of course he had a 21-yard run and then a big run for a touchdown there at the end of the game. He really did inspire our team and he gave us a huge boost in the game. His kickoff returns led to incredible field position, unlike anything I've been around."
After the three-touchdown day for Wilson last week, he became the first player in NFL history with 100-plus rushing yards and 200-plus kick return yards.
Bradshaw missed practice on Wednesday, but Coughlin has not yet ruled him out. Regardless of his availability for Sunday against the Falcons, Wilson will be a factor on offense and special teams and a player the Falcons can't ignore.