Though New York Giants coach
Tom Coughlincontinues to take responsibility for a catastrophic collapse in Sunday night’s 27-26 loss against the division-rival Dallas Cowboys, he made it clear that someone else was to blame: quarterback Eli Manning.
During a conference call with reporters, the Giants confirmed that running back
Rashad Jennings had been instructed not to score late in the game when the Giants held the ball near Dallas’ goal line with a three-point lead.
“That was not instructed from the sidelines,” Coughlin said Monday during the call. “In talking with Eli today, I think he was confused by the number of timeouts that were remaining. His intention was, with one timeout, that we would milk the clock as best we could. However, they had two timeouts left.”
Coughlin later added: “My intent was to be up 10.”
With the ball on the 4-yard line and just fewer than two minutes to play, the Giants handed the ball off to Jennings on first and second down. Jennings told ESPN in an interview that on one of the plays, he “cut the wrong way [on purpose] and found somewhere soft to fall” in order to follow Manning’s directions.
“I thought they only had one timeout,” Manning said during the call. “I told Rashad, ‘If they let you score, go down at the 1-inch line.’ ”
Before the second down play just seconds later, Manning went to the sideline and informed the Giant coaches about what he told Jennings. When he returned to the huddle, the instructions were the same.
“I thought we were on the same page and I was wrong,” Manning said. “That was my mistake.”
That wasn’t Manning’s only one.
On the next play, a crucial third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, he took a play action snap and retreated to avoid Dallas’ pass rush, before eventually throwing the ball out of bounds. The clock stopped with 1:43 left in the game. Rather than to take a sack, Manning’s incompletion saved Dallas about 40 seconds.