Greg Schiano's decision at the end of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 41-34 loss to the New York Giants was not a dirty play. Unorthodox and desperate would be more appropriate to describe the attempt to hit the ball free from Eli Manning ‘s hands as he attempted to take a knee to close out the game.
The play resulted in a little pushing and shoving from both teams on the field and a heated exchange between Schiano and Tom Coughlin, the head coach of the Giants.
There has been a lot of attention, both for and against, the decision and whether or not it has a place in the National Football League. Some have even gone as far as calling the move bush league, including Dan Graziano from ESPN.com.
Graziano also included Schiano's reaction after the game.
"I don't know if that's not something that's not done in the National Football League, but what I do with our football team is we fight until they tell us 'Game over,'" Schiano said. "There's nothing dirty about it and there's nothing illegal about it."
There are also those that feel the play wasn’t dirty at all and was very appropriate for the situation. This includes current ESPN analyst and former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski. Doug Farrar from Yahoo’s Shutdown Corner blog caught some of Jaworski’s remarks from ESPN radio Monday morning.
"There's no doubt that Tom Coughlin owes Greg Schiano an apology for the way he reacted after the game," Jaworski said. "And I will give you a real-life example of why. Remember the 'Miracle at the Meadowlands' with [Giants quarterback] Joe Pisarcik? Very similar play before the Pisarcik-Csonka fumble. The Giants were in victory formation, and Frank LeMaster, our linebacker, fires off [at the snap]. We were taught by [Eagles then-head coach] Dick Vermeil to play until the game is over. All of a sudden, a big showing match ensues. The only thing the Giants had to do was take a knee, and the game was over. But their coach, Bob Gibson, was on the sideline, angry because of what we did. They called a play to try and get a hit on our defense. Lo and behold, Larry Csonka thought Pisarcik was taking a knee, [Eagles defensive back] Herman Edwards picks up the ball, and we won the football game."
Here are three reasons the play shouldn’t be considered dirty.
The Bucs trailed the Giants by only seven points.
It would be one thing if the deficit was more than one score and Greg Schiano makes the same call. Had the defense succeeded and knocked the ball loose and miraculously recovered it, we would have been looking at a Josh Freeman last-second pass attempt to try to win the game.
The victory formation is not a mutually agreed upon conclusion to a game. It is one team signaling its intent to run the clock; it doesn’t mean the other team has to agree.
This wasn't a hit on a defenseless player or any other cheap shots in the NFL. The Bucs clearly showed their intentions if you look back at the game tape.
Eli Manning and the New York Giants took two kneel downs Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If you look at the Bucs defensive alignments in the two plays, it's clear intentions were very different for one than the other.
At the end of the first half, with two seconds remaining, the Giants lined up to take a knee. The Bucs defense kept its linebackers and defensive backs deep. Within moments prior to Manning receiving the ball from center, three Bucs defensive linemen casually made their way to the line of scrimmage.
It was clear that both teams conceded the half would end on that play. However, Greg Schiano and the Bucs defense kept players back to ensure no other scenario played out.
When you look at how the Bucs came to the line at the end of the game, the defense looked more focused and resembled more of a field goal block attempt than a team conceding defeat.
There wasn’t the same nonchalant formation as was presented in the second quarter. Players had their hands on the ground and presented an aggressive posture.
Manning and the Giants probably paid no attention to how the team lined up, as they didn’t expect there to be any resistance to the final play. That doesn’t mean it was a dirty play, no matter how uncommon or rare the practice is.
At the end of the day, the NFL is taking no action on the final play of the Buccaneers game against the Giants, according to Michael Smith from Pro Football Talk.
It shouldn’t be that surprising, as there is no action for the NFL to take. No rules were broken.
There isn’t a rule written in the rule book that says you cannot continue to play defense because the offense is in the victory formation. It’s still a football play with time on the clock.
The offensive line for the Giants still has a responsibility to protect Eli Manning, and the Bucs defense likewise must still attempt to win the game.
It’s hard to think of another professional sport that has a play where the winning team can run the clock out to victory. In baseball, you have to record all 27 outs, at a minimum. Basketball and hockey you keep playing until time expires.
Like Greg Schiano said, you have to play until the game is over. No matter what Tom Coughlin how Tom Coughlin or anyone else may feel about it.
Jamal Wilburg is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report.