Giants coach Tom Coughlin and Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano used the media as a platform for an interesting debate this week. In case you missed it: The Giants were leading 41–34 on Sunday when they lined up in the so-called “victory formation” — that pseudo-play where the quarterback takes a knee and the linemen barely touch each other as the clock runs down. Schiano’s “mistake,” in the eyes of Coughlin and other adherents to football’s nebulous “unwritten rules,” was to treat it as an actual football play. The Bucs linemen, on the apparent instructions of their first-year head coach, lunged into the backfield in hopes of a fumbled snap and a miracle turnover, sending Giants quarterback Eli Manning tumbling backwards.
From the Giants’ reactions, you’d have thought that the Bucs players had attacked defenseless puppies. Coughlin confronted Schiano with a stern lecture instead of a handshake. Words like “classless” and “bush league” peppered the postgame air, with phrases like “that isn’t done” and “he’ll learn” thrown in. These objections, by the way, come from the franchise that gave us Joe Pisarcik and the Miracle in the Meadowlands, Exhibit A for the fact that a game isn’t over until it’s over.
Schiano asserted that he was simply trying to change the culture in Tampa and get his guys to play 60 minutes. I’m with Schiano. To me, a team is within its rights to keep competing until the clock hits 0:00. To take a step further, that Schiano was forced to defend a perfectly legitimate football play is symptomatic of the game’s decline in the Roger Goodell era of legislated emasculation. For more debate on the subject, click here.