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Blame Tom

for Coughing it up

 

Earns swift kick for field goal try

 

 

 

Tom Coughlin looks dismayed on sidelines, but he has only self to blame.

 

It was one of the oddest calls in the long history of unfathomable Giants coaching moves. Tom Coughlin sent out his field goal team for a 52-yard attempt on wet turf, sent out a kicker who had missed a 33-yard try earlier in the game in the same direction. On fourth-and-15 from the Chicago 34, down four points early in the fourth quarter, Coughlin decided not to punt, not to pin the Bears back to their goal line.

Coughlin went for the improbable kick, even though a field goal would only bring the Giants to within a point. The call was a long shot, literally and figuratively. It didn't make much sense. And then it not only backfired, it cost the Giants everything. It cost them the game against the Bears, 38-20, and it may have changed the dynamics of the whole season.

 

Jay Feely's kick swan-dived early, came to earth eight yards deep in the end zone to Devin Hester. It wasn't close. Hester, the Bears' return man, hesitated, spotted an opening on the right side of the field and took the ball back 108 yards, all the way for an 11-point lead. As long as there have been NFL games in this world, nobody has ever run for a longer touchdown.

 

This would then become a demoralizing defeat, and maybe a tipping point. After all the injuries suffered, after all the ingenious lineup juggling, Coughlin finally over-reached.

 

You worry about Coughlin after a game like this, a call like this. He is a coach who hasn't won a playoff game in seven years, and his sideline poise under pressure remains a question. He jumps around like a man possessed sometimes, his emotion getting the better of him. This time, maybe because of all those manpower losses on the line, Coughlin didn't trust his defense to claim field position. He wanted the points, wanted them now.

 

So it fell apart on him, and Coughlin took full blame - not that he had much of a choice. Coughlin understood he had blown this one, and so did his players.

 

"It was my decision to go for the field goal," Coughlin said. "From that point on we were behind the 8-ball. ... It falls right back to me. ... I chose to go for it, and that ended up being the determining factor."

 

The defense wanted a shot at the Bears down near the goal line. They didn't get it.

 

"He's the head coach," linebacker Antonio Pierce said. "He made the decision. It puts the linemen at a disadvantage when you kick a long field goal and it's short."

 

The Giants, who once held a 10-point lead in this game, lost their way. And instead of being tied for the best record in the conference, they are now two games behind the Bears and in a dogfight within their own division, battling the Cowboys and Eagles.

 

You may have to go back to San Francisco and the Jim Fassel regime, to the botched snap from Trey Junkin, to find another pivotal special teams blunder like this. You can hope this one doesn't end up costing the Giants nearly as much, doesn't sabotage what had begun to look like relatively smooth sailing.

 

Coughlin could not possibly foresee how badly this play would backfire, but it was a reckless call nonetheless. He was giving up anywhere from 14 to 33 yards on a punt, if nothing else. He was spreading his special team coverage thin, too. The Giants on the field were blockers for the most part, not tacklers.

 

"It's very difficult to cover field goals. The people are not the kind of people who do the coverage for you," Coughlin said. "That's one of the risks you take. If the field goal is short, you've got to deal with that. Again, that's my call and no one else's."

 

It was all too bad, because until then the Giants had valiantly hung in there, despite many reasons to quit.

 

Luke Petitgout, the tough left tackle, limped out of the game in the first quarter, headed straight for the X-ray machine and was diagnosed with a broken leg by the second period.

 

Another major Giant injury, another alibi. There were a ton of them out there, if the Giants wanted to grab hold of one. The weather was ferocious, wet and wild. Eli Manning had a disappointing game, 14-for-32 passing and two interceptions. The Giants already were without Amani Toomer, Michael Strahan, LaVar Arrington, Osi Umenyiora, Carlos Emmons and Brandon Short. Tiki Barber sprained a thumb early on, though he would come immediately back to play.

 

They hung in there anyway, right up until the field goal attempt. The ball fell short, the return was long, and now Coughlin's season gets a lot more complicated.

 

Originally published on November 13, 2006

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Just sad! That play was it and I said it when Feely walked his ass out there. It sucked the life out of the Giants and possibly out of their season!

 

I like TC a whole lot but he messed up big time and now these guys who are already pretty down are gonna ONCE AGAIN pull whatever they haev left in them to save this season.

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once again, the NY media is out to get coughlin.

 

this game came down to much more than one missed FG. the offense could not stay on the field to sustain a long drive. eli was erratic. corey webster was off traipsing through the daisy fields. jeremy shockey was stuck in play calling limbo.

 

feely has the leg to make a 52 yarder. you have to have faith in your kicker to do a better job than that. that being said, i don't think we should get rid of feely.

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once again, the NY media is out to get coughlin.

 

this game came down to much more than one missed FG. the offense could not stay on the field to sustain a long drive. eli was erratic. corey webster was off traipsing through the daisy fields. jeremy shockey was stuck in play calling limbo.

 

feely has the leg to make a 52 yarder. you have to have faith in your kicker to do a better job than that. that being said, i don't think we should get rid of feely.

It's hard to sustain long drawn out drives when you do not run the ball. The fact the the coaches decided to turn last night into a passing game in the cold/wind/rain makes me question the squash between their ears. You have the best RB in Giants history and the leagues leading rusher plus a bruising 260 lbs RB and you run 21 times in THAT weather? our coaches are morons.

 

 

Felley has the leg definately, but on a wet field kicking into the wind down 4 anyway, the only logical thing to do was to punt and hope Feagles canb pin them inside the 10.

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It's hard to sustain long drawn out drives when you do not run the ball. The fact the the coaches decided to turn last night into a passing game in the cold/wind/rain makes me question the squash between their ears. You have the best RB in Giants history and the leagues leading rusher plus a bruising 260 lbs RB and you run 21 times in THAT weather? our coaches are morons.

Felley has the leg definately, but on a wet field kicking into the wind down 4 anyway, the only logical thing to do was to punt and hope Feagles canb pin them inside the 10.

 

i'll agree with you about the run game. this is the 2nd week in a row tiki has looked good early and the offensive coaching staff has insisted on throwing the ball. i think that falls more on hufnagle and gilbride than coughlin.

 

even at times where tiki wasn't being effective, why wasn't there any jacobs to change the pace? where were some plays for shockey (although it's questionable whether eli would have gotten the ball to him)? just poor offensive planning and execution.

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