NEW ORLEANS -- Lots of questions about some of coach Tom Coughlin's decisions in Sunday's 52-49 New York Giants loss to the New Orleans Saints. We're covering them in a series of Monday morning posts that look at the explanations Coughlin offered and whether they make sense. Hope it helps to enlighten.
Why didn't Coughlin use his timeouts on the Saints' final touchdown drive to save time for the Giants' offense?
Right after the two-minute warning, with the Giants up 49-42, Saints running back Mark Ingram had a 15-yard run that set the Saints up with first-and-10 from the 11-yard line. The clock was running and the Saints seemed happy to let it continue to do so. They let the entire 40-second play clock run down before Ingram's 2-yard run on first down, then did it again before the touchdown pass to C.J. Spiller on second down. Had Coughlin called time out after the Ingram runs, the Giants would have had the ball back with the game tied and about 1:50 left on the clock instead of the 36 seconds they had.
"I wasn't going to help them with their touchdown to tie it," Coughlin said, unprompted, in his postgame news conference.
So this was obviously something he considered and decided not to do. With a lead, it's a justifiable decision, because you're basically trusting your defense to make a stop. But the reason I disagree with the decision is because the Saints obviously wanted to let that clock run. They had timeouts and decided not to use them. If Coughlin didn't want to "help" them, then why let the clock run when they clearly wanted it to run?
Getting the ball in Eli Manning's hands with 1:50 (or thereabouts) left in the game and needing only a field goal to win would have been a lot different than giving it to him with 36 seconds left. As it turned out, the Giants weren't able to do anything in the time allotted them but punt the ball back to the Saints, incomprehensibly, leaving enough time for the game-winning field goal. More on that in the next post.