- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It was a celebration play, complete with celebrations that went a little bit too far over the top. New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin didn't love that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie high-stepped his way into the end zone with his interception of Zach Mettenberger in the fourth quarter of Sunday's blowout win, and he didn't love that veteran safety Antrel Rolle celebrated in a manner that earned him a penalty flag.
But the whole thing was undone by a different penalty -- one on second-year defensive end Damontre Moore for leveling Mettenberger after the interception. That penalty nullified the touchdown and prompted Moore to apologize to Rodgers-Cromartie after a sideline lecture from Coughlin.
Moore said the issue was a failure to understand the rules. He said he believed he could hit the quarterback after the interception to prevent him from making a tackle. But it's not that cut-and-dried, and there are rules that prohibit a player from leveling said quarterback if he's far from the play.
"That's bad on my part that I didn't know the rule all the way," Moore said. "If I had known the rule all the way, I would have made a smarter play. I should be better aware of all the rules of the game. That's my fault."
Coughlin bought Moore's explanation and said he honestly believed Moore didn't think he'd done anything wrong until he explained it to him.
"We all know I've got penalties before, and he's ripped me a new one," Moore said of Coughlin. "This time, he didn't rip me a new one."
Moore is in his second season in the NFL, but he's still only 22 years old. He has the physical talent to be a disruptive force for the Giants on defense, but Giants coaches have talked openly about his struggles to consistently understand and carry out his assignments. Even after the Giants put two defensive ends on injured reserve last week, they used defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins as a starter at the position Sunday rather than elevate Moore to that spot. They don't believe they can fully trust him yet on running downs, and they cite discipline as a key issue for him as he works to improve.
"I apologized to DRC and to the whole defense. I took points off the board," Moore said. "But I don't apologize for being an aggressive player and trying to make a play. I just needed to know the rule better."