September 27, 2012
It is the discussion in the NFL the end of the game between the Bucs and the Giants.
Trey Wingo, NFL Live on ESPN
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
Thomas A. Edison
There's something I simply absolutely have to talk about this week. It has been disturbing me to no end ever since it happened, and the only way to deal with it is to write it and get it out of my system. I don't think that, in my 10 years at The Rhinoceros Times, I've ever felt as compelled to weigh in on a controversy as I do on this one.
If you saw the New York Giants/Tampa Bay Bucs game last week or if you just saw the replay of the final play, which was shown over and over again in the aftermath then you know New York had the ball and was ahead by a touchdown with the last seconds ticking off the clock.
New York had assumed the victory formation that is, the team was grouped together as tightly as possible, ready to snap the ball one last time, and Giants Quarterback Eli Manning clearly intended to take a knee and run out the remaining seconds of the game. So, game over.
The raging controversy that ensued over what happened next has been the talk of the NFL for the last week and a half. The Tampa Bay Bucs, as they had been instructed by Coach Greg Schiano, didn't do what NFL teams always do; the team didn't just stand by and let the quarterback take the snap and run out the clock.
Instead, the Bucs did what Schiano a rookie NFL coach had instructed: Despite Manning's plans to take a knee, the Bucs defense came in full bore, charging madly at Manning in a last ditch, one in a million desperation attempt to get him to fumble so Tampa Bay could possibly get the ball back and have one last miracle shot at winning the game.
When New York snapped the ball and Tampa Bay's defensive line rushed the unsuspecting Giants, a surprised Manning was knocked backward. The Tampa Bay Bucs shoved the center into Manning, which knocked Manning to the ground. There was no last second miracle for the Bucs and New York won the game.
But all hell broke loose as the clock ran out. A wildly angry New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin ran over to Bucs Coach Schiano and ripped into him where the television cameras caught it all. Coughlin told Schiano in no uncertain terms that that type of dirty underhanded play had no place in the NFL and he shouted that someone could get hurt.
In the post-game interviews, some of the Giants players called the play a "cheap shot," "bush league" and "dirty."
The Giants coach said, "You don't do that in this league you jeopardize the offensive line, you jeopardize the quarterback. Thank goodness we didn't get anybody hurt that I know of."
Schiano, who faced a barrage of questions about the play after the game, tried to explain that he always wants his team to play hard until the game is over. He added that, in the game of football, you never know what might happen so you should never stop playing until the final tick of the clock.
Ever since it happened on Sunday, Sept. 16, everyone from fans to sports analysts to players have weighed in on the controversy, and there's been a rich and heated debate back and forth over whether or not the Giants should have crashed in desperately on the last play or, if they should have instead, done what's always done in the NFL, and just stood by while the other team won.
Now, OK, first of all, let me say that the argument that the Bucs did anything wrong at all is the most idiotic, totally ridiculous, absolutely absurd thing I've ever heard in the history of sports arguments. I mean, the main reason this controversy has me so disturbed is because it is utterly ridiculous in the first place that anyone even thinks there are two sides to this "controversy."
It's not that one side is right and the other is wrong: This is one of the rare times in these types of debates when, instead, there's not even another side to the argument. Why is this even a discussion? I have no idea.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with what the Bucs did, and the fact that Schiano had his team charge an opposing team in the victory formation while no one else in the NFL does that isn't an indictment against Schiano and the Bucs, but instead is an indictment against all the other teams who simply give up and just stand by and watch the clock run out every time that it would take something close to a miracle to win the game.
Stranger things have happened. When Schiano coached at Rutgers before coming to the NFL this year, his Rutgers teams recovered four fumbles in that same situation including one last year on Sept. 10 in a game against North Carolina.
And, by they way, if you watch that last play of the Giants/Bucs games, the totally surprised Manning, flailing backward to the ground, looks like he just might fumble, and, if he had lost the ball, the Bucs players would have been there to jump on it because they hadn't given up yet.
Listen, anything can happen in the game of football.
Think of the Miracle at the Meadowlands or just ask the 1982 Stanford college football team, or ask the highly unfortunate Stanford trombone player in the end zone who got a first-hand up-close course on the potential of miraculous game-winning plays in football.
But now the Giants and many others in the NFL are still whining because first-year coach Schiano doesn't know you're supposed to stand by and take a loss quietly as the other 31 teams in the league do every week.
It is astonishing to me that grown men (who are supposed to, by the way, be the toughest of the tough) are acting like such a big bunch of spoiled babies in this situation. It's unfathomable to me that they think they have a right to demand that the other team just lay down and die. Come on, this the National Football League not the little schoolgirl powder-puff flag-football league.
I don't know what complaint will come next from the Giants and their fans who are whining about this. Maybe after a play-action pass, they'll point to the ref, outraged, and say, "Ref, how can you let that happen? They were clearly deceitful. They pretended like they were going to run the ball but they actually threw it! No fair!" Or after a draw play, they may shout, "Hey, Ref, he cheated! He pretended like he was going to pass. That's low!"
Former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, on Showtime's Inside the NFL, said this week that the Bucs action would have been OK if the defense had "communicated" to Manning and the offense that they were coming hard so the Giants players could prepare.
And I read later that the Giants were even more upset because Manning told the Bucs when he walked up to the line of scrimmage that he was simply going to run out the clock.
"I said as I walked up," Manning said, "Hey, we're taking a knee."
Well, that's fine, but the Bucs have no obligation to tell the Giants what they're going to do....continued on page 2