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Tom Coughlin on clock management: "I'm not playing for the field goal"

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Coach explains throwing the ball during final sequence.

New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin understands the questions that have been raised about why the Giants threw three consecutive passes from the 5-yard line on their final drive vs. the New England Patriots on Sunday rather than running the ball to take more time off the clock in what ended up as a 27-26 loss on a last-second 54-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. Coughlin ha da simple answer:

"I'm not playing for the field goal," he said. "Against Brady you have to make those decisions."

When it was suggested to Coughlin that the Giants could have run the ball in, he said the Patriots were using a goal line set with six defensive linemen, making running the ball in that situation virtually impossible. He also scoffed at the notion that the Giants allowed the Patriots to dictate play there, saying instead that New England gave the Giants an opportunity.

"They've got six defensive linemen in the game, they've got a timeout, they've got the two-minute warning. If you calculate it if you run the ball there you're going to have maybe one play in which you're trying to score," Coughlin said. "You're not going to run the ball into six defensive linemen. You're trying to score. Your matchups are very good under those circumstances one-on-one. You've got to take advantage of what the opponent gives you. For two downs you had the six defensive linemen in the game.

"Go for it. That's what you do. ... You've gotta get it done when it's on the line."

Here are other takeaways from Coughlin's Monday post mortem.

"We do lead the division"

Coughlin reminded that the Giants are still in first place and will have at least share of it when they return from their bye week.

"The players have a much-needed rest coming," Coughlin said. "We do lead the division and when we come back we do have a divisional game. Hopefully we'll use this time to rest and reflect a little bit and regroup and come back and finish strong."

Coughlin likes the way the Giants have been playing.

"We've played at a pretty high level for a few weeks now," he said. "The questions are legitimate and they are anticipated. But the thing you have to understand is the intensity, the ability to play against a high-powered opponent is inspirational in itself. The great competitors will rise to the occasion.

"When we come back there's only six games left. ... There's so much incentive here for our team that I can't possibly imagine not grasping this opportunity and going with it."

Reaction to Victor Cruz surgery

Coughlin said he didn't learn about the situation with Cruz until today, which he "appreciated in a way" because he didn't want to be distracted from the focus on Sunday's game.

"Very disappoint and I feel very badly for Victor," Coughlin said.

The coach refused to speculate on Cruz's long-term future or effectiveness as an NFL player after missing more than a season-and-a-half to injuries.

Odell Beckham "can learn" from Sunday

Coughlin said that Beckham "can learn" from Sunday's overturned touchdown.

"He can learn from this definitely, and he will," Coughlin said. "Obviously he learned a difficult lesson. I'm sure it will stick with him."

Coughlin said Beckham's mistake was to leave the ball in "a slappable position" rather than tuck it away.