Rookies Wilson, Randle star in finale

December, 30, 2012
12/30/12
6:24
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants put their 2012 draft class on the cover of the program for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Eagles.

The top two picks were the bright spots, but it was a very disappointing Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Rookies David Wilson and Rueben Randle both started, in place of injury-plagued veterans Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks. And they combined for three touchdowns in the first quarter alone, in the Giants' 42-7 win over the Eagles.

Rueben Randle
AP Photo/Bill KostrounRueben Randle crossed the finish line in style Sunday against the Eagles.
The Giants still fell short of the playoffs. But Wilson and Randle looked like future stars.

"Well, that’s important," said coach Tom Coughlin, when asked about the young players' performances. "But again, I’m not going to start talking about what you are referring to in terms of individual players. That will all be taken care of in due time."

Wilson and Randle had been kept under wraps, for the most part, over the first 16 weeks of the season. Wilson, the Giants' first-round draft pick out of Virginia Tech, was leading the league in kickoff return yards entering Week 17. But as a running back, he had just 56 carries for 283 yards.

Randle, the team's second-round selection out of LSU, had just 15 catches for 240 yards.

But Coughlin finally unleashed the two talented rookies against the Eagles. With Bradshaw playing through knee and foot problems, and Nicks practically incapacitated by a knee injury -- he was held without a catch last week for the first time in his career -- the Giants gave the two youngsters a chance to step up.

And that's exactly what they did.

On the Giants' very first possession, following a Stevie Brown interception, Wilson carried the ball three straight times for 23 yards. On the fourth play, quarterback Eli Manning found Randle over the middle for a three-yard touchdown.

On the team's next possession, Manning again hooked up with Randle -- this time on a 38-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline. Randle beat Eagles star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to make the grab.

"(It gives you) a lot of confidence, when you’re going against one of the best in the league," Randle said. "Shows what you’re capable of doing."

Randle is the first Giants rookie receiver with two touchdown catches in a game since Bobby Johnson, back in 1984.

On the Giants' third possession, it was Wilson's turn to score, catching a short pass from Manning and sprinting 15 yards to the end zone.

On the day, Wilson finished with a season-high 15 carries for 75 yards. Randle had four catches for 58 yards, including the pair of TDs.

"The more experience you get, the better player you can become," Wilson said. "I hope I’m a better player (than I was at the start of the year), and I think I am."

"The coaches gained a little trust in us," Randle said. "Each week, just continued to try to get better and gain their trust, and today we went out there and executed our game plan and made plays."

Both rookies are already looking forward to 2013. "It makes you excited," Randle said, "finishing off when you played so well."
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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