Big plays Tyree's specialty

The play of the game in the Giants' 27-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles came on special teams, and was turned in by a player who was labeled questionable heading into the contest. David Tyree, New York's third-year wide receiver and special teams whiz, played for the first time in a month and responded by blocking a Reggie Hodges punt with 5:25 to go in the first half to turn the tide and set up New York's first touchdown, improving their lead to 10-0.

He had missed the previous three games due to a sore left elbow; however, it was going to take a lot more to keep Tyree out of this contest.

"I pretty much had my eye on playing all week," Tyree said after his big return. "By Friday, it was a done deal (for me). It felt good and continues to feel good."

And thank goodness for the Giants it did. Even head coach Tom Coughlin acknowledged that his troops are a better team with Tyree in there. All you have to do is look at the 24-21 loss to Minnesota a few weeks back. New York allowed both a kick return and a punt return for a touchdown, something that almost certainly wouldn't have happened with Tyree manning his post.

"It's a difficult, difficult task, from a special teams standpoint, to have to deal with David Tyree on the field," said Coughlin, who went on to praise Tyree for his timely special teams play against the Eagles. "For David to make that block, which resulted us to drive from the one-inch line, we were looking for a way to spark our team, and that was it."

And Tyree was looking for his first blocked punt in the NFL.

"(At Syracuse) that's what I was known for, was blocking kicks," he smiled. "I blocked about seven there, so this one was long overdue."

Still don't label Tyree as being a special teams player. Call him a lot of things, but don't call him that.

"I know I stand out well on special teams," said the 6-0, 205 pound reserve wide receiver, "but please don't label me. I consider myself a football player. It's a gift from God. Wherever they put me, whether it's special teams, whether it's wide receiver, I'm going to excel."

Hard to argue with Tyree there. When given a chance to play wideout, he has had some exciting moments, such as his team-leading seven catches for 71 yards and a 15-yard TD in the critical win against Dallas in last season's finale. Or his 48-yard bomb against Philadelphia two years ago. And, this season, despite missing the aforementioned three games, he's racked up five catches for 52 yards and another touchdown.

That's saying something when you consider he plays in an offense with Jeremy Shockey, Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and Tiki Barber.

But as much as his speed and talent at the wide receiver position is evident, there is no arguing that Tyree has become a feared player on special teams. Last year, he led the Giants in special teams tackles with 23, and was named a first alternate to the NFC Pro Bowl squad as a special teamer. Currently this season, despite missing time, Tyree is third on the Giants with nine special teams tackles and the blocked punt.

It's getting so that the Syracuse product is becoming one of the odds-on favorites to go to Hawaii as the NFC Special Teams representative.

"You know, I've got some catching up to do," he said. "It's tough to miss three games. I had a big one today, but it's basically a week-to-week thing.

"But, still, there isn't a coach out there that doesn't know my name."

And there's a reason for that. Just look at his blocked punt in the Philadelphia contest. That play was all Tyree.

"No, it wasn't (a designed rush)," Tyree said. "I was supposed to be holding up on the play, but I guess, instincts took over."

And, it's those vital instincts that the Giants missed so much on special teams.

"I almost wished they missed me that much as a wide receiver, but my time will come," smiled Tyree. "I already knew (special teams) was my niche. They made it clear that they didn't draft me as a wideout."

There's that dreaded special teams label again.

"I don't like to be labeled," Tyree said. "If anything, call me a football player, because that's what I am. I want to help my team win, no matter what it is. If you ask me to go out there and play safety – I don't know how to play safety – but I'll go and do it. I'm a football player."

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