In the final seconds of the final quarter of the Bucs/Giants game, the Giants had the ball and a 41-34 lead. Eli Manning fielded the snap and took a knee. The Bucs, instead of admitting defeat in the traditional way, pushed forward, attempting to knock the ball loose and tie the game (or win, I suppose) in miraculous fashion.
The Bucs did not force a fumble. The Giants won 41-34.
End of game, yes, but not end of story.
Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin saw this play as an instance in which players could be hurt unnecessarily; he saw it as an affront to one of the few gentleman’s rules present in the game.
Bucs’ coach Greg Schiano, on the other hand, posited that this was the sort of play he ran commonly at Rutgers, and thus the Giants should have been prepared for it. He also wanted to convey the message–to his players and opposing teams–that this team will play aggressively until the clock reaches zero, no matter what.
Here, then, is my take: Was the play-calling on the last down of the game categorically the wrong thing to do? No, I don’t think so. (And neither does the NFL.) To my eyes, there wasn’t a whole lot of gentlemanly respect on the field of play in general this Sunday, with the reluctant faux-refs at the helm. Plus, the Bucs were only down by a touchdown, and had a fumble been forced, and a touchdown scored, this would likely be a different conversation.
However, I’ll admit that the play reads as rather classless. And that’s disappointing. The Bucs have not always been winners, but we’ve lately had respect (Dungy), heart (Gruden), and humor (Raheem) on our side, and this move was representative of what seems to be a sea change.
This felt like something Bill Belichick would do. And, chicks, let’s face it: Patriots fans are the only people out there rooting for the Patriots.
The Pats are a great team. They are professional, and they are well-coached, and they win so darn much. But they are just not very likable. And my concern is that this is a glimpse into future-Bucs. Of course, if they do end up winning lots of games and a few Super Bowls, then I’ll be happy as a clam, no matter how they handle the last seconds of their games. I’m easy like that. But if they fall short of greatness, looking like the bully will be hard to muster.
And now for something completely different…
Chicks in the Huddle Poll: Did you know that there were 59 minutes and 55 seconds of play time that preceded the final kneel-down?
- Yes! I watched the entire game and was crying so much at the end that I didn’t see the final play anyway!
- No! I have self-imposed amnesia. I can’t even remember my own name, much less the 510 yards of passing that the Bucs’ defense allowed because I have amnesia!
The Live-Tweet Jinx: On a lark, I decided to do a live-tweet smackdown with my awesome (except for his team loyalties) Giants fan friend during the game. This was a bad idea.
My friend had been nervous to participate because he feared he would jinx his team, and when the Bucs came out to a roaring early lead it confirmed his fear. He abandoned ship some time around the Bucs’ third interception of the first half (a beautiful catch, pause, and run back for a touchdown by new Buc Eric Wright) in order to unjinx his team. I, on the other hand, decided to tempt the fates with this zinger:
Those three interceptions went to my head! The Bucs were playing the Super Bowl champs on the Super Bowl champs’ field, and totally dominating the scoreboard. My judgment was clouded!
So while my friend was unjinxing his team, I was totally, completely, irrevocably jinxing mine.
In the second half, the Giants scored two field goals and three touchdowns, including an 80-yard bomb to Victor Cruz. Manning ended the game with 510 passing yards. Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks had 199 receiving yards on his own.
The Bucs’ offense played a solid game throughout. Josh Freeman had his first interception of the season at the end of the third quarter, but threw beautiful touchdown passes to both Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Doug Martin had a less effective second game, but still managed 66 yards on 20 carries.
Next week, the Bucs face the Cowboys off of a tough loss to Seattle, so they should be ready to redeem themselves. Though, don’t worry, I’ll never tweet anything that jinx-y again.