Giants vs. Eagles: Tom Coughlin, Not Matt Dodge, To Blame for Epic Collapse
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Matt Dodge has a lot of fingers pointing at him after DeSean Jackson returned his punt for a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of the Philadelphia Eagles comeback win against the NY Giants.
Some of those pointing fingers are deserved. Dodge's punt didn't have great hang time, and it gave one of the game's elite return men the ball in the middle of the field.
It's easy to use the last guy to screw up as the scapegoat, but how did the Giants get themselves in that situation?
Up 31-10 with eight minutes to go in the fourth, it looked like a Kevin Boss TD has just sealed the deal. All the Giants needed to do was bleed clock.
After a quick score and onside kick that caught the Giants off-guard, the game had new life at 31-17. The Giants had questionable special teams execution all year, and this kickoff was case in point.
The Giants had done an applaudable job of corralling Michael Vick up to then, but they clearly lost focus, allowing him to gash them for a 35-yard gain and then a four-yard touchdown on the next drive.
Although their lead had been cut to seven, Tom Coughlin's Giants only needed to kill 5:28 to escape with a victory.
Passing for a first down to open the drive was a plus, but the play ended out of bounds and the clock stopped. The Giants then ran the ball five straight times, gaining one first down and exhausting the Eagle's three timeouts.
On 3rd-and-8 at the 40, an incomplete pass brought up fourth down and a punting situation. Had the Giants ran the ball they could have bled another 40 seconds off the clock and might have gotten into field-goal range.
Even in their given situation, stopping Vick should have been first, second and third priority with 88 yards of field to go. The most dangerous scrambler in league history ran for 55 of those 88 yards on the drive before hitting Jeremy Maclin for a TD to tie the game.
Poor strategy in all three phases of the game had the Giants tied with 1:16 left and all of their timeouts.
The Giants had strong starting position at the 36, and the one thing they couldn't afford to do is hand the ball back to the Eagles. Either score or take it into OT.
When the Giants failed to complete their first-down pass, they should have gone draw or dive on their next play. If they happened to get stuffed, they could take the clock down but they would have most likely got a first or a very convertible third.
Instead, on 3rd-and-10, Eli Manning was sacked for a seven-yard loss, meaning punter Matt Dodge had to punt from much deeper than he would have with proper game management.
In an attempt to not out-punt his coverage Dodge only hit the ball 36 yards. The punt didn't have great hang time, but it was a tough-enough kick that Jackson muffed the ball.
Once the ball hit the ground it's hard to blame Dodge for what happened, and considering what happened before that in the first quarter, it's pretty easy to blame Tom Coughlin and his staff.
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