New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning both took the blame for the botched clock management at the end of Sunday night’s 27-26 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
Considering how it ended, there was plenty of blame to pass around.
The Giants were in position to run the clock down to under a minute on their final scoring drive after taking the ball to the Cowboys’ 1-yard line. But on third down, Manning threw a pass out of the end zone instead of taking a sack using seconds off the clock.
Coughlin said the decision to throw was all his. With it, the Giants likely threw away their best chance to win a game they led by 10 points in the fourth.
“We’re on the road and had an excellent chance to win,” he said. “It’s my fault at the end of the game. There’s nobody to blame but me. The decision to throw the ball there on third down was not a good decision.
“It should have been a run whether we scored or not. The clock would have at least given us the opportunity to take a few more seconds off.”
Manning isn’t without fault.
If he had taken a sack on the play, the Giants could have taken nearly 40 seconds off the clock before kicking a field goal. Instead, the Cowboys and Tony Romo had 1:34 to work with.
“That’s 100 percent on me right there, clock management on that whole deal,” Manning said. “I had the option to take the sack and give them less time. That’s 100 percent on me. It can’t happen.”
Manning also admitted being unsure of the Cowboys’ timeout situation. He thought the Cowboys had taken a timeout after a completion to Odell Beckham Jr. coming out of the 2-minute warning. Instead, a defensive penalty stopped the clock.
Defense almost wins it
The Giants scored 17 points off three turnovers, with two coming in final minute of the first half to reverse momentum in a game the Cowboys were dominating. The third miscue enabled New York to take 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“We played hard and put ourselves in position to win the game on defense,” Coughlin said.
Giants cornerback Trumaine McBride had a hand in the first and third turnovers. On the first, he stripped the ball from receiver Cole Beasley and fellow corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie scooped it up and raced 57 yards for the game’s first touchdown.
The Giants appeared poised to go into the half up 10-6 thanks to that score, but Romo was intercepted on the ensuing play. Linebacker Uani ‘Unga pulled in a tipped throw intended for tight end Jason Witten and Josh Brown followed with a 40-yarder with 19 seconds left.
Clinging to a 16-13 lead, the Giants forced another big turnover in the fourth. Cowboys receiver Devin Street appeared to make a catch over the middle, but Giants safety Brandon Meriweather leveled Street and the ball ricocheted into the arms of McBride.
McBride returned the pick 19 yards to the Dallas 1. Running back Rashad Jennings ran it up the middle on the next play and New York was back up by 10.