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Giants vs Cowboys 2014, Week 12: Matching up the special teams

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Giants showed some improvement on special teams last week.

Preston Parker did a nice job on kickoff returns last week
Preston Parker did a nice job on kickoff returns last week
Al Bello/Getty Images

Believe it or not, the New York Giants have actually made some progress on special teams in recent weeks. Let's look at the recent improvement in the Giants' return game.

Kickoff Return

Improvement here started when the Giants signed Michael Cox off the practice squad and installed him as the primary returner. Cox fared pretty well, averaging 23.7 yards on 11 returns before suffering a fractured leg and ending up on injured reserve.

The improvement continued vs. the San Francisco 49ers last week when Preston Parker averaged 25.8 yards on five returns with a long of 38 yards.

Give much-maligned special teams coordinator Tom Quinn a bit of credit here. Against the 49ers the Giants, for the first time, used a two-deep returner alignment with Parker and newly-acquired Orleans Darkwa deep. Look closely at the film throughout the season and you see that this is the third kickoff return scheme the Giants have used, so they are trying.

The Giants even tried to sneak Odell Beckham into Darkwa's spot on a couple of returns, but San Francisco caught on and didn't kick the ball there.

Punt Return

Beckham averaged 13 yards on three returns, with a long return of 25 yards. Who knows how often the Giants will actually want to expose the exciting rookie on punt returns, but when he is back there he certainly does give the Giants a big-play element they haven't had.

About The Cowboys

Dwayne Harris of Dallas averaged 25.2 yards on kickoff returns and  8.7 on punt returns. Punter Chris Jones averages 46.3 yards per punt with a net average 38.8 yards. Field-goal kicker Dan Bailey is 17-of-20 on the season, including 5-of-6 from beyond 50 yards.