I realize this is a little late coming in, but I just watched the NFL Replay version of the Buccaneers vs Giants game on TiVo and I have to make an observation about the head coach who doesn't know the meaning of the word quit... literally...
When asked about the now-infamous dive-at-the-knees defense employed when the Giants went into the victory formation with 0:05 showing on the clock, Greg Schiano was quoted as saying in his postgame press conference "We fight until they tell us game over. We're not going to quit."
At a point where I don't think anyone told Schiano that the game was over - with 1:20 left in the contest in a tie game and with one timeout left in their pocket - the Giants handed the ball to Andre Brown at the Bucs' 10-yard line. The Bucs played a very strange defense for this play which involved running away from the ball carrier as if he had a communicable disease.
Despite the Bucs obviously quitting on that play, Brown slid down and gave himself up at the one yard line (something Ahmad Bradshaw infamously didn't do in the Super Bowl last season and something Victor Cruz less famously did do against the Arizona Cardinals last season).
The Bucs didn't spend their last timeout here, instead letting the Giants run the clock all the way down to 0:34 when Eli Manning once again handed the ball to Andre Brown, and the Bucs for the second time opened up like Moses himself was instructing them to do so:
The Bucs defense quit in this game. Not once, but twice.
Now, all of this is fine and dandy. As we all know, there are rare situations where the best chance of a victory involves letting the other team score quickly enough so as to allow enough time left to win the game. Nobody claims that Bill Belichick was a dummy when he did the same thing in Super Bowl XLVI.
However, while this might have been the smart play, it still involved quitting. And even more importantly, what of the following possible scenarios seem more likely to happen:
- The Bucs force a backup running back to fumble, giving them a chance to escape the last minute without giving up a score of any kind.
- The Bucs cause the Giants to lose yards on two successive plays where they aggressively go after the run, forcing the Giants to kick a field goal with no time left on the clock from 34 yards away or so, which has the potential to be missed or blocked or snapped over the holders head.
- The Bucs, with five seconds left in the game at the Giants 30 yard line, force a fumble when Eli Manning - in Victory Formation - is taking a knee. This fumble either has to be returned for a touchdown or has to happen fast enough to have the clock killed with at least time for one 25-30 yard heave into the end zone on the final play.
I don't know the numbers. I don't have a computer program which can come up with the percentages of either scenario occurring. It's pretty certain that the odds are long for any of them to happen.
But it's also pretty safe to say that the first two items are a hell of a lot more likely to occur simply because any NFL fan can recall teams losing games with running backs fumbling late and close to a score (Earnest Byner did it in a championship game and he wasn't a backup with two career rushes heading into the game). Kickers miss field goals, even shorter ones, from time to time (Billy Cundiff's famous miss last year was only a 32-yard kick). And every Giants fan old enough remembers Trey Junkin for all the wrong reasons.
But I have yet to hear of a single case where a team, while in the Victory Formation, lost the ball and subsequently the game. Not a single time. Not from before my time or in my 35 or so years of watching the NFL I don't even recall hearing about something like that happening at other levels other than the NFL. Not even at Rutgers.
(As an aside, when Schiano proudly stated "At Rutgers, if you watched us, that's what we did at the end of games," why didn't the whole world just snicker at him? You're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.)
If someone can unearth a Victory Formation gone bad at any NFL or even major collegiate game, let the world know. Even if someone unearths a situation of this happening, it's still pretty obviously the least-likely scenario compared to the possibilities that didn't involve quitting, something Schiano says he doesn't ever do.
Schiano can talk up his team spirit like a collegiate cheerleader all he wants, but the fact is that his team did quit. They quit when he and his coaches told them to. They quit when they had a much better chance of winning the game than when they had a much better chance of having Kevin Baas' knees get dislocated.
They quit. He told them to. So cut the crap, coach. Your justification is a bush league as your actions. And if you don't realize this, one day you might wind up back at Rutgers.