After serving up 3 early interceptions, Eli Manning led the Giants to a 25 point fourth quarter and a 41-34 comeback victory over Tampa Bay earlier today at MetLife Stadium, but it’s the game’s final play that’s receiving a ton of attention. With Manning taking a knee with one second remaining, the Giants were surprised by the ferocity of the Buccaneers’ pass rush, something their first year coach, Greg Schiano, insisted afterwards was a legit attempt to force a turnover. With the Giants enraged and few Tampa Bay players compelled to defend Schiano’s directive, the former Rutgers head coach suggested that the deeply offended Tom Coughlin should’ve known this was coming. What NFL head coach hasn’t spent hours researching Schiano’s ball-stripping strategies while leading one of the Northeast’s most
overrated feared collegiate programs? From the Tampa Bay Times’ Greg Stroud :
“I don’t know if that’s not something that’s done in the National Football League,” Schiano said. “What I do with our football team is that we fight until they tell us game over. And there’s nothing dirty about it, there’s nothing illegal about it. We crowd the ball like a sneak defense and try to knock it loose. There’s nothing…if people watched Rutgers, they would know that’s what we do at the end of a game. We’re not going to quit, that’s just the way I coach and teach our players. If some people are upset about it, that’s just the way it goes. I don’t have any hesitation. That’s the way we play. We play clean, hard football until they tell us the game is over.”
As it turns out, Coughlin and his staff did review old Rutgers game film, and if they missed the footage that shows the Scarlet Knights trying to maim the QB of a team that’s beaten them, well, that’s neither here nor there. As ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano points out, “you don’t see it at the NFL level because it’s a real good way to get people hurt for no good reason.”
If you’re losing and out of timeouts and the other team has the ball with so little time left that they can kneel down and run out the clock, you’ve lost. It doesn’t prove anything to your players or anyone else if you’re the fake tough guy who refuses to accept that. All it does is put people at silly risk of injury at the end of 60 minutes’ worth of brutal, health-threatening collisions. You owe it to your own players to know when you’re beaten and back off. Asking them to make a useless leaping hit in that situation is putting them at risk the same way it’s putting the other team at risk. It’s irresponsible.
It also shows a lack of respect. It’s sore-losership. You’ve been beaten, fair and square, in the part of the game in which both teams were competing honestly. To try and win it cheaply with a sneaky play after the opposing team (and any other opposing team you’ve ever faced or ever will face) justifiably believes it to have been decided is dishonest and dishonorable. Schiano’s team played extremely hard on the road against the Super Bowl champs, but by the time Manning was taking a knee, they’d lost. The game was over. Schiano’s postgame assertion that he didn’t know that was naive and bush-league.