Did the New York Giants -- again -- mis-manage the clock on their final possession Sunday evening in their 27-26 loss to the New England Patriots? The Giants' decision to try to pass on three consecutive plays has been heavily questioned, both here in various comment threads and in social media. So, let's discuss it.
"I'll take the touchdown. I'll take the touchdown," said head coach Tom Coughlin when asked about running three consecutive pass plays from the New England 5-yard line during a sequence that began with 2:10 to play and the Giants trailing, 24-23.
Let's go through the sequence of events.
- New England had already used two timeouts, meaning they had only one remaining, when Eli Manning connected with Dwayne Harris on an 18-yard pass to the New England 5-yard line. Harris is pushed out of bounds, stopping the clock with 2:06 left.
- Manning comes to the line of scrimmage and ends up calling timeout. It is critical to remember that this timeout does not hurt the Giants in any way because the clock was not running.
- The Giants decide to pass, with Manning throwing to Odell Beckham Jr. toward the left sideline. The catch/non-catch controversy ensues, with the play being ruled a non-catch. The clock stops here with 2:01 remaining. Perhaps, just perhaps, if the Giants had used a running play here the Patriots would have used their final timeout right before the two-minute warning. It is also entirely possible that Bill Belichick would have let the clock run to 2:00 since a timeout right there would have only saved a couple of seconds. The other thing to remember about this play is that Manning admitted that offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo called a run but that the Patriots "weren't going to let us run," so he opted for the lob to Beckham.
- A second-down incompletion took the clock to 1:56, and the two-minute warning was given.
- Manning, with receivers covered, takes a sack on third down rather than throw the ball away. This forces the Patriots to burn their final timeout with 1:50 left in the game.
- Brown hits a 29-yard field goal to give the Giants a 26-24 lead and the Giants kick the ball back to New England with 1:46 left.
I'm going to disagree with those of you who think the Giants mismanaged the clock in this situation. Had the Giants played exclusively for the field goal, running the ball three consecutive times, the best they were going to do was to bleed the block down to roughly 1:20 before kicking the field goal to take the lead.
If anyone thinks playing to take a two-point lead and then give the ball to Tom Brady with more than a minute to play and needing just a field goal is playing to win, I believe you're mistaken.
The Giants needed a touchdown there, and they rightly played for one. They could have run the ball on first down and I wouldn't have argued with the decision. Again, though, if New England does the smart thing and just let's the clock go to the two-minute warning running the ball there wastes an opportunity to try for the touchdown and it burns all of one second more than the pass play, which stopped the clock at 2:01, took.
Reality is, if the Odell Beckham play is ruled a catch -- or if Beckham catches the ball -- is anyone complaining about clock management? No. Especially if the Giants make the two-point conversion to take a 31-24 lead, meaning the Patriots would have needed a touchdown and extra point in the final two minutes to force overtime. That, of course, is do-able for Brady.
Still, would you rather have a seven-point lead with anywhere from 1:45 to two minutes remaining, or a two-point lead with about 1:20 left?
"We have to kick a field goal, which makes you right away worried because they have an outstanding kicker who might kick it from 58 to 60 yards, he's done that before," Coughlin said.
The Giants, as they should have, played for the touchdown. They just didn't get it. That is a big part of why they didn't win the game.
Vote in the poll and let us know if you think the Giants mishandled their final sequence of plays.