By Jimmy Cunningham, howiGit New York Writer, Manhattan, NY
Tom Coughlin is one of the best coaches in the NFL. He is one of three active coaches to have multiple Super Bowl victories – one of them being Mike Shanahan who won his in the 90’s and has not had a winning record since 2006 – the other being Bill Belichick, who Coughlin has beaten in both of his Super Bowl wins. However, Sunday night’s loss to the Eagles was a result of two poor coaching decisions in the last 2:30 of the game.
The first decision was how Coughlin handled his last two timeouts around the 2 minute warning. The Eagles had the ball trailing by 1, with a 1st and goal from the Giants 8 yard line and 2:30 to play. LeSean McCoy ran for four yards and the Giants let the clock run to the two minute warning. The Giants then stopped the Eagles next two plays (calling their timeouts after both plays), forced a field goal, and had the ball kicked off to them with 1:49 left to play. What Coughlin should have done is use his timeouts on the other side of the two minute warning. Assuming the Giants stop the Eagles in the same way they get the ball kicked back to them with 2 minutes left. That is 11 seconds that Coughlin let tick away – an error that was magnified by what took place on the subsequent drive.
The Giants got the ball on the 35 after a good return from rookie David Wilson, who returned the ball well all game. Thanks to two pass interference calls on the Eagles’ corners the Giants had the ball on the Eagles’ 27 with 47 seconds to play. A 42-yard field goal is well within Lawrence Tynes range and the Giants looked like they had pulled off another last minute comeback. The Giants play calling was questionable from there on out, but Giants Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride can’t shave his face without screwing up so I can’t say I was surprised. After a dive play up the middle for a yard the Giants took a shot at the end zone and after some back and forth by both players offensive pass interference was called on Ramses Barden. The Giants get pushed back to the 36, putting them outside of Tynes’ range (Tynes’ career long is 53 yards). With 21 seconds left Eli threw an incomplete pass to Domenik Hixon leaving them with 3rd and 20 from the 36 with 15 seconds left. Time for one more play along the sideline, or even a dump over the middle and a spike, right?
Instead Coughlin sends out Tynes to try a career long to win or lose the game. Giants snap the ball, the kick is up, and it’s nowhere close – game over. But wait! Andy Reid, who somehow saved a timeout until the end of the game, iced the kicker. The play doesn’t count. One would think that after watching the kicker come nowhere close that Coughlin would take advantage of the other coach’s mistake – do the right thing and attempt to get closer for the game winner. Nope. Out came Tynes again, who this time was on target but was a yard or two short. There is a reason Tynes’ career long is 53 and not 56.
But what would have happened if Coughlin used his timeouts properly before the two minute warning? Instead of 3nd and 20 with 15 seconds left there are 26 seconds left. I do not believe Coughlin would have made the same decision with 26 seconds left. They would have had time for a play almost anywhere on the field and time to spike the ball. If they got 5 yards they are in Tynes’ range. But Coughlin let precious seconds waste away and was left with a decision that he got wrong.
The Giants are now 2-2, and worse, 0-2 in the division. The Giants never make things easy for themselves, and I am not panicking nor calling for Coughlin’s head, yet. But I would feel a lot better today at 3-1 with a win in Philly. The frustrating part is the Giants players put themselves in position to win on the field, but the guy pulling the strings from the sidelines did not.