The New York Giants are coming off a back-breaking loss against the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants lead by as many as 10 with 6 minutes left and had the opportunity to be up by 10 points with under two minutes left in the game. However, their goal line opportunity was squandered due to poor clock management by Eli Manning and the Giants coaching staff.
After the game it was inconclusive who was to blame for the missed opportunity, as the Giants ran it twice within the 5 yard line without scoring to burn Dallas’ two timeouts and then Eli Manning threw the ball away on third down as opposed to taking the sack. Despite Coach Coughlin taking responsibility for the defeat in the locker-room after the game, Eli Manning says he should shoulder the weight of the loss.
“I informed Rashad if they let you score, just go down at the one-inch line. Don’t score,” Manning explained as he described the goal line sequence. “He still ran hard, we got two yards on first down and second down, third down that was my—it’s still my mistake. That did not come from the sideline. Coach Coughlin and I talked about scenarios like this, but this did not come from the sideline and I can’t be the one to inform a back.”
While Coughlin accepted responsibility for the loss after the game, Manning was certainly not devout of criticism for throwing the ball away on third and goal. It is unfortunate for the lack of communication the team endowed and that Manning jumped the chain of command to audible the first two plays. Manning said he misinterpreted the amount of timeouts that Dallas had during the goal-to-go plays.
“Because they had two timeouts, it wasn’t the right thing to do, so I made that mistake. Then we got on third down and not taking a sack there. I’ve got to do a better job managing the game, managing the clock and make better decisions in that scenario.”
The error in clock management comes as a surprise to a veteran NFL QB who has led two game winning Super Bowl drives. Manning was very critical of himself throughout the interview but did admit that play action call in general was made by the sideline, and that he was not informed to take a sack if there wasn’t a touchdown available.
“The third down was a play action. That was the call. We were trying to get the touchdown right there and score and that’s where I’ve got to do a better job of understanding that if it’s not open, wide open, then you don’t have a chance to get a touchdown, I’ve got to take a sack so we can run 40 seconds off the clock and get that field goal.”
Manning’s realization of his mistakes come as a sign that a future error in communication is highly unlikely, and ideally that a similar fourth quarter collapse is improbable as well. As for what he can improve on throughout the season, Manning talked about most of his game in general.
“I think I’ve got to do a little better job on first and second downs, finding completions, throwing the ball more accurately.”
While it’s easy to point fingers after a crushing loss, Manning is certainly not alone to blame for the loss. He did have subpar clock management skills in the moment, however the defensive coordinator, the defense and the head coach allowed Tony Romo to march down the field twice in the final 6 minutes to score two touchdowns. While Manning certainly blundered, there is plenty of blame to go around. It was a team loss.