|Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick gets a hand from referee Ron Winter during the game against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. .(US Presswire)|
Coach Tom Coughlin ended Monday's press conference by joking that he still has a few tears to shed after Sunday night's 19-17 loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia.
In reality, Coughlin probably busied himself in preparation for the Giants' Week 5 matchup with the Cleveland Browns. In either case, Coughlin was the embodiment of the classic literary quote popularized by Kurt Vonnegut:
“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘It might have been.' ”
But as somber as Coughlin was Monday, his regret was based more on the fact that the Giants lost -- not that his decisions were wrong.
He began Monday's meeting with the players by confessing his own regrets for Sunday's loss.
"Put the blame right here,” he told the media afterward. “It's right where it should be. The game was in hand, we let it get out of hand. All the analysis afterward is fine and dandy, and that's what we do for a living, me included. Analyze, analyze, analyze, try to figure out where it went astray."
Primarily Coughlin believed the Giants were too conservative with their play calling as time was winding down in the fourth quarter. The Giants had a chance for a game-winning 44-yard field goal on Sunday night, but as everyone knows by now, an offensive pass interference penalty on Ramses Barden pushed the Giants back 10 yards and kicker Lawrence Tynes ultimately missed the final field goal.
Should the Giants have taken their chances with Tynes from the 26-yard line? Could they have advanced the ball -- without any timeouts -- and still have enough time to clock the ball and set up a field goal? Could they have thrown a screen pass to the sideline?
Coughlin had explanations for why he didn't make any of those decisions on Sunday night, but that didn't offer him any comfort.
“If I were to do it over myself, would I be as conservative with 15 seconds?” Coughlin asked. “Not this morning.”
So why didn't he throw the ball at the sidelines with 15 seconds remaining?
“What happens if you get a sack there?” Coughlin asked. “What happens if you try to fit one in tight and … you get tackled in bounds? Game's over.”
Coughlin did express regret on Monday. He did take the blame for the loss. But he also came equipped with his own explanations.
“Last night I chose to do that knowing full well that the clock was not in our favor,” he said. “We had no timeouts. I fully expected the type of coverage that would take the short throw to the sideline away from us. But, I'm not going to know ... because we didn't try it.”
Quarterback Eli Manning said the pass to Barden was intended to give the Giants an easier field goal than the 44-yard attempt Tynes would have had to make. The two things New York was obviously hoping to avoid were a sack or an interception, the latter of which probably led Barden to being so physical with Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
In fact, for all the regret in the air on Monday, Barden didn't actually apologize for the pass interference penalty -- he said he assumed the pass would have been intercepted -- but he admitted there were some things he could have done differently to avoid that situation.
“Maybe do something different at the line of scrimmage,” Barden said. “Maybe try to hold him inside longer, but once you're 20 yards down field… If he's ahead of you or he's got inside position and the ball is kind of tracking him more than me, then I've got to find a way to not let him get it.”
Regret is a funny thing. Coughlin, Manning and Barden all admitted that they could have done some things differently on Sunday, but they each defended the choices that ultimately led to the two-point defeat.
Both Coughlin and Manning said a sideline screen pass was never an option because the Eagles would have focused on containing the play and making the tackle in bounds. Running the ball without any timeouts would have risked valuable seconds and taking another shot at the end zone could have ended in a sack or an interception.
So yes, everyone was regretful on Monday. But if you're wondering if the Giants would do anything differently next time, well, that's a question without an answer.