FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Riley Dixon had no idea what happened in front of him.
The Giants punter took the snap from Zak DeOssie and kicked the ball. The next thing he saw was the Patriots’ Chase Winovich rumbling 6 yards into the end zone with the ball he’d just kicked.
The touchdown gave the Patriots a lead in a tight first quarter and it was a shock to the Giants’ system en route to their 35-14 loss Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
In fact, long after the game was over, Dixon was still agitated about it, having answered question after question about the play.
“I catch the ball and I kick the ball,’’ Dixon said. “That’s what I’m looking at. I have no idea what goes on in the front of the play. My eyes are on the football. I catch the ball and I’m looking at the ball and I kick the ball.’’
Dixon, who looked utterly bewildered after the play, said he never saw a replay of it.
The player who made the play for New England was Brandon Bolden, who bull-rushed his way into Giants up-back Nate Stupar, the last line of defense in front of the punter.
Bolden pushed Stupar back with such force Dixon’s kick actually hit Stupar in the back. Bolden got credit for the blocked punt, but the ball actually caromed off of Stupar’s back and into the arms of Winovich, who scored his first career touchdown with 1:41 remaining in the first quarter.
“As I was driving [Stupar] back, I had two options — either throw him into the punter or just stick my hand up, and it was just luck at that point,’’ Bolden said.
“Any of those defensive or special-teams touchdowns are really kind of bonus points, [and] that was a big spark,’’ Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
“A punt blocked in the NFL is not good, especially when they score on it, and especially when we’re playing a team as good as the Patriots,’’ Dixon said. “It’s not good. We’ll just have to go back to the drawing board.’’
David Mayo, who plays guard on the line for punt protection, like Dixon, didn’t know what happened.
“They brought rush and they brought pressure,’’ Mayo said. “I think it was eight box and it was just a straight rush and they just came with great effort, pad level and just drove us back.’’
Mayo said he didn’t know the ball had been blocked “until I heard the crowd getting all excited right after a kick.’’
“That’s never a good sign when you’re on the punt team,’’ he said. “I probably tried to release a few steps before I realized it was blocked. It was one of those things.’’
Giants receiver Golden Tate called it “a big-time play.’’
“They did a good job of executing that play, and you could feel the momentum shift,’’ center Jon Halapio said.
“It’s going be hard to win giving up plays like that,’’ Tate said.