By: Ryan Wooley
At the conclusion of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers/New York Giants game on Sunday, an ethical question was raised as to when the game is considered over.
For many, if one team has the ball and the lead and can run the clock out, then the game is technically over because the defense has no way to get the ball back for the offense—or do they?
With the Giants leading 41-34 and only five seconds to play, Eli Manning elected to take a knee to kill the remaining seconds and let New York walk away with the victory, but the Buccaneers had other ideas and rushed the Giants offensive line, catching them off guard and knocking Manning to the ground.
Obviously, the play didn’t sit too well with New York head coach Tom Coughlin who felt Tampa was taking a cheap shot at Eli and said afterwards that; “I don’t think you do that at this level. I don’t think you do that in this league”, while Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano responded by saying; “I don’t know if that’s not something that’s not done in the National Football League, but what I do with our football team is we fight until they tell us ‘game over’. There’s nothing dirty about it and there’s nothing illegal about it.”
Even though I understand what both coaches are saying, I think Greg Schiano wouldn’t look so bad if he did this with more than just a few seconds on the clock.
I mean think about it. Let’s say the Tampa defensive line was able to get to Manning and knock the ball loose, but another Giant falls on top of it.
Game over. Sure, there is also a chance that the ball squirts out and someone from Tampa Bay returns it for a touchdown, but the odds of that happening are pretty slim.
Had this happened with say a minute and a half left, the Giants are forced to take more than one knee, and if the same scenario unfolds, the Bucs have two or three opportunities to fall on the ball and if they do recover, they have some time to do something with it on offense.
There has never been a rule that says a team must take a knee when they have the lead and the chance to run the clock out, but it’s always assumed that coaches don’t want to risk turning the ball over and of course an injury, so that is why they go into the victory formation.
I personally have no issue with Greg Schiano’s mindset of playing to the final whistle but I do have a problem when he contradicts himself.
In the game the Giants took a knee prior to halftime trailing 24-13 and yet no rush by Tampa Bay to try and pop the ball out. How come? That would have been just as good of a shot as the end of the game and perhaps even better because the ball was on the Giants eight yard line as opposed to their 28 at the end of the game.
Schiano also had one timeout remaining and if he truly believed what he was saying about playing to the final whistle, why didn’t he call for the timeout after the Bucs knocked Manning down? They would have had at least one more shot at him and another chance to get the ball.
I think what this boils down to is a coach that was bitter because his team squandered a 14 point lead and because he couldn’t get his frustration out on the field himself, he allowed his team to do it for him and brand himself the biggest sore loser within the National Football League.
Follow Ryan Wooley on Twitter @WooleyMammoth85