When Victor Cruz caught a five-yard pass near the two-minute warning in the first half, he pumped his fist with a bit more energy than such a catch usually elicits.
He could be forgiven for his enthusiasm, though. It was Cruz’s first regular season catch since he tore the patellar tendon in his knee in Week Six of 2014, a span that saw Cruz deal with a calf injury that wiped out his 2015 season and doubts about whether he’d ever make it back.
Cruz’s first catch confirmed he was back, but it was his final catch of the night that was really worth the celebration. He found a hole in the middle of the Cowboys defense in the fourth quarter and caught a three-yard touchdown from Eli Manning that gave the Giants a 20-19 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Cruz did his familiar salsa dance after the score and reveled in the moment after the game.
“Just elated, just in that moment,” Cruz said, via the team’s website. “Couldn’t even describe what was going through my body, to obviously do the dance and make sure I got that down pat and just celebrate with my teammates. Everybody was pulling for me each and every day, each and every week. As we got closer and closer, you could just sense everybody had me in their prayers, pushing for me and excited for me to get dressed and be out there for game one and to score a touchdown. You couldn’t paint this story any better.”
Cruz might not have been the explosive home run hitter of the past on Sunday, but he showed he can be an able complement to Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard at the very least. That makes for both a happy ending to his long road back and a happy start to this phase of Cruz’s career.