“Well, who doesn’t want the ball?” Shockey said.
Shockey has never considered himself much of a blocker and being asked to perform a tight end’s most mundane task on a regular basis was beginning to feel like a drag, even if he didn’t care to admit it Sunday.
“I love blocking and helping the team win,” Shockey said. “But I’m not 300 pounds. I’m not Howard Cross [the former Giants tight end]. Patience is a virtue, however. I was being patient. I work hard every week and I expect to win every week. I’ll take the wins every day besides catching a pass or two.”
Shockey got both wishes granted against the Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Not only did the Giants win, 27-14, but the three-time Pro Bowl tight end was instrumental, making five second-half catches for first downs, two for touchdowns.
“I told Jeremy after he scored his touchdown [from the 4, which put the Giants ahead 27-14 with 3:45 to play] that this was his coming-out party,” said Tiki Barber, who trumped Shockey’s day by gaining 185 yards on 26 carries. “I wad thrilled big-time about what he was able to do in this game.”
Shockey made six catches for 55 yards, one week after making only one at home against the Redskins. He had made only 12 receptions in the first four games, a pace that would have tied him for his career-low (48) set in 2003 when he missed the last seven games with a foot injury.
Complicating matters has been a series of off-the-field mishaps, injuries to his right ankle and foot, and ill-advised comments that have gotten him into trouble with Tom Coughlin.
Last week, Shockey took a new tact, admitting he wasn’t going to waste much time in the future worrying too much about losses or injuries. He said the new point of view was a favor to himself, a strategy designed to help him relax instead of stirring the stupor that has led to so many of his outbursts.
If so, the strategy really paid off.
“Jeremy’s been banged up,” Eli Manning said. “But he had a great week of practice and looks to be back at full speed. He made some big plays. He made some big third-down conversions and he scored twice. He’s back, playing well. It’s just another weapon for this offense.”
After Brandon Jacobs scored from the 2 to cut Atlanta’s lead to 14-10 in the third quarter, Shockey got rolling. All five second-half catches went for first downs.
He made a leaping 19-yarder on first-and-10 from the Giants 39. He gained 16 on a third-and-10 later in the drive that gave the Giants the ball on Atlanta’s 15.
After Barber’s 15-yard touchdown was called back – replay officials ruled he stepped out of bounds at the 2 – Shockey finished it off with a two-yard touchdown grab that gave the Giants a 17-14 lead with 25 seconds to play in the third quarter.
During the Giants’ second possession of the fourth quarter Shockey made a 10-yard catch on third-and-4 from the Falcons 49. Then he capped it off with a 4-yard score with 3:45 to play.
“Was this a coming out for me?” Shockey said. “I doubt it. I had my coming out party five years ago [when he broke in as a rookie].”
Shockey, who seems especially stung by media criticism this season, wouldn’t elaborate on how he managed to score two touchdowns.
“I got open,” Shockey said.
But everyone seemed to get his point.
“I practice hard and I expect to have great games like this, not just one, either,” Shockey said. “I expect to have a lot of them. That’s the expectation I place on myself. I want to be involved. I want the ball in every situation.”