What Went Wrong on the New York Giants' Final Drive in Philadelphia?

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 1, 2012

Sep 30, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) appears to yell at head coach Tom Coughlin during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.The Eagles defeated The Giants 19-17.  Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The New York Giants don't fall short on game-winning drives very often. Eli Manning led all NFL quarterbacks with eight game-winning drives and seven fourth-quarter comebacks last season, according to Pro Football Reference, and Manning entered Sunday night's game with a 21-to-6 fourth-quarter touchdown-to-interception ratio dating back to the beginning of 2011.

But against the Eagles, Manning and the Giants lacked their typical fourth-quarter magic. As I noted earlier, a lot of that falls on Tom Coughlin and the coaching staff, and a lot should be pinned on Manning.

But his teammates played a role in the letdown, too. Let's break down the final series from Sunday night in order to assign blame more efficiently. 


The situation:
Eagles 19, Giants 17
Giants' ball on their own 35-yard line with 1:49 on the clock and no timeouts remaining


Play No. 1

On first down, Manning throws incomplete to Victor Cruz on a timing route. The throw, though, is actually perfect. The problem is that Cruz slips and falls as he turns on a deep in route. They're lucky it wasn't intercepted by Brandon Boykin or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Who's at fault? Victor Cruz

Who deserves credit? Manning for his throw


Play No. 2

Manning's forced to spin to avoid the rush and throw it away after a terrible snap from David Baas. 

Eli actually does a fantastic job avoiding a fumble and/or a sack and throwing it away in the direction of Ramses Barden to also avoid intentional grounding. Another instance in which he proves why he's one of the best pressure-situation quarterbacks in the league.

Who's at fault? David Baas

Who deserves credit? Manning


Play No. 3

Manning throws a bullet to Cruz, who beats Boykin. They're a yard short of the first down, setting up 4th-and-short. It's a very good play, but Cruz wasn't able to escape solid coverage to wiggle free for the first down.

Who's at fault? Nobody

Who deserves credit? Manning, Cruz, the line and the coaching staff for a solid play call.


Play No. 4

Ramses Barden draws a pass-interference flag on Rodgers-Cromartie on a deep ball down the right sideline. It was a bit of a risky call on 4th-and-1, but Manning must have felt he had Barden in a good spot. DRC claimed Barden grabbed his facemask on his release, but I couldn't see that on the replay. It was clear, though, that Barden was mugged beyond five yards.

Who's at fault? Nobody. But had the play not worked, Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride would have taken heat for that call on 4th-and-short.

Who deserves credit: Manning and Barden


Play No. 5

With a fresh set of downs, Manning has Cruz, but throws it into his feet.

Who's at fault? Manning


Play No. 6

Manning puts it in Barden's gut on second down, but Nnamdi Asomugha rips it away as Barden's coming down to the turf. Incomplete pass. Good defense, but Barden has to secure that. 

Who's at fault? Barden


Play No. 7

Barden draws another pass-interference penalty, this time against Asomugha. Spoiler alert: If not for what happened two plays later, this would have been the most controversial moment of the night. It was a ticky-tacky call at best. 

Asomugha briefly struck Barden's facemask with his left hand within five yards and before the ball was in the air.

That is technically a penalty, but not for pass interference. Had Asomugha been called for illegal hands to the face, I would have understood (although that would have been quite the call considering how innocent the shot to the face was). 

I can only assume, then, that Asomugha was flagged for the contact he was making as the ball was about to arrive. 

Again, though, that seemed a little over the top. Barden failed to catch the ball, and that would have been the case regardless of the contact. The Giants got a little lucky here.

Who's at fault? Nobody

Who deserves credit? Nobody


Play No. 8

The Giants give it to Ahmad Bradshaw on a delay for only one yard to the 26. Considering how good the coverage was and that they'd thrown on every other play, I'm not against mixing it up there and seeing if they can get five or 10 surprise yards to control the clock and set Lawrence Tynes up with an easy field goal. It didn't pay off, but it didn't hurt them either.

Who's at fault? It was Will Beatty's man who clipped Bradshaw down almost immediately. I don't fault Coughlin or Gilbride here.

Who deserves credit? Nobody


Play No. 9

They take a shot toward the end zone on 2nd-and-9, and Barden is again involved in a controversial pass-interference penalty. This time, it's on him. And it's a game-changer. Some argued right off the bat that it was a makeup call, but its blatant offensive pass interference. 

Barden was duped by a veteran corner. Asomugha subtly used his inside path to redirect Barden off the ball, which could have been flagged. But Barden responded by literally grabbing Asomugha by the head and ripping him down, which the officials couldn't ignore.

Who's at fault? Barden, as well as the coaching staff for a stupid, unnecessary shot at the end zone.

Who deserves credit? Nobody


Play No. 10

Manning is inexplicably in shotgun. He rolls right and has no one open. He makes a somewhat risky throw toward Domenik Hixon in double coverage, but there was little chance of the pass being intercepted. This was a dreadful play call with fewer than 20 seconds left and on the 36-yard line. 

I don't understand why Gilbride wouldn't have run a higher percentage play in a situation like that, but it's easy to say that with hindsight. The Eagles played it well, but I think New York would have been better off running a screen. It stuck to the sidelines because of a fear of where the clock was, I guess.

Who's at fault? The coaching staff

Who deserves credit? Manning for not trying to turn nothing into something.


Play No. 11

On 3rd-and-19, the Giants attempt the game-winning field goal despite the fact Tynes has never hit from 54 yards in his nine-year career. With 15 seconds remaining, the odds would favor running a safe play first. If it falls incomplete, you kick. If it's completed and the receiver gets out of bounds, you kick. If it's completed and the receiver stays in bounds, you lose. 

They'd miss the field goal even after getting a second chance after a stupid Andy Reid icing attempt. Game over.

Who's at fault? Coughlin

Who deserves credit? Nobody


So I can only see one play in which Manning was at fault, while Cruz, Barden, Baas and the coaches made their share of mistakes. That goes to show that one man can only do so much. Manning had a terrible pick earlier in the quarter and threw a duck to an open Cruz on this drive. Had those throws been better, New York probably would have won this game. Still, the loss isn't on him.