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Giants’ Gunner Olszewski named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week

Olszewski’s punt return TD nearly tied Sunday’s game

Los Angeles Rams v New York Giants
Gunner Olszewski
Photo by Mike Lawrence/Getty Images

New York Giants kick/punt returner Gunner Olszewski was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 17. Olszewski’s 94-yard punt return touchdown sent MetLife Stadium into a frenzy on Sunday as the Giants appeared poised to tie the game at 26 with 3:27 remaining in the game.

On the return, Olszewski fielded the ball at the 6-yard line, the second time he fielded a punt inside the 10 during the game. This time, he took it back far past the 20, slipping through several tackles on his way to the end zone. In particular, he appeared to be stopped after a nice return before bouncing off tacklers and finding a wall of blockers.

Per, Olszewski’s return was the longest in the NFL this season and the longest since Jakeem Grant’s 97-yard return in December 2021. In Giants’ history, his return stands as the second-longest and the longest in 95 years; Al Youngblood scored on a 95-yard return in 1928. Personally, it was Olszewski’s second career punt return touchdown.

The last time the Giants had a punt return touchdown was in 2015 against the Jets when Dwayne Harris took an 80-yarder to the house. The elapsed time spans 132 regular-season games and three postseason contests.

It is all the more remarkable that Olszewski earned the award after he joined the Giants’ practice squad on October 23. The team had suffered from returning woes prior to Olszewski’s arrival to the active roster on November 3, including several fumbles and miscues from Eric Gray and one from Sterling Shepard. In nine games since Olszewski averages 12.2 yards per return on 20 attempts.

Unfortunately for the Giants, Olszewski’s exciting score went for naught. After the Rams went offside on the extra point, Brian Daboll opted to go for two. Tyrod Taylor missed a wide open Saquon Barkley, leading to a heartbreaking 26-25 defeat. Still, Olszewski earned the NFC honor for that one shining moment.