HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media by conference call on Monday afternoon:
Alright, good afternoon. It certainly doesn’t feel any better this morning than it did last night. It’s remorse for opportunity lost, obviously. And again, I feel very badly for our team. I thought they played hard, gave good effort. Certainly the football wasn’t by any means perfect. In many, many categories, we were deficient compared to what Dallas accomplished. However, we were plus-three. Our defense did score one touchdown, and really put us on the one-yard line. You might as well say scored two touchdowns, and did an outstanding job of taking the ball away from a very good Dallas team. And putting us in a position where we had an opportunity to win the game.
I stand by what I said last night. The responsibility for the management of time and the play calling decisions etc. etc. are mine. Therefore the responsibility goes to me and nobody else. And all the other jibber-jabber, whatever is going on out there, simply comes down to the fact that we were within striking distance of being 10 points up. And that’s all I ever wanted—was to get back to the 10 point lead. Dallas has had success driving the ball late in the game against us for a couple years, and scoring late touchdowns to defeat us. By going up 10, that would not have been an issue. When on third and 13 we went to the air and made a first down, that obviously made me ever more the aggressor, in terms of we were thinking about being able to score and to go up 10. And then the clock under two minutes, whether it took a minute or whatever it took there for them to score. If they were, in fact, going to, we would still have the lead and there wouldn’t be any time left on the clock or they would have no timeouts.
So it was very disappointing. The thing I do regret the most for the evening really is that at 5:08, we had a 13 play, 79 yard drive and we came away with field goal rather than a touchdown. That was very disappointing to me. The third and one play, which I again take responsibility for—it should have been a run, it wasn’t. The throwing the ball away created the stoppage of the clock. The clock had been stopped many times along the way for penalties, for refusal to accept penalties, all of those things that take place within the last two minutes. So the clock hadn’t really been running. There were timeouts taken that were given back to the defensive team. The explanation to me this morning is that the referee has the right within whether he thinks it’s a sequential operational play or not, to give the timeout back to the team that has taken the timeout. Even though in the situation we talked about, we did have the personal foul.
So, all these things having been said, as I mentioned, the other thing that was most disappointing was the last two drives that Dallas had. They really didn’t—we didn’t give them much opposition. They had a six-play, 76 yard drive and later a six-play, 72 yard drive. Their final play left seven seconds on the clock. So, most-disappointing for us, and again, I really thought that we played hard, that we gave good effort, that we were physical. Both sides played hard and we were in position to win the game and didn’t win it. I’m very, very disappointed and upset about that. Our players feel very badly today, but we’ll bounce back.
Q: There was a report out there that Rashad Jennings was instructed not to score on the first three plays inside the five-yard line. Was that something that was instructed from the sidelines?
A: No. No, that was not instructed from the sidelines. In talking with Eli today, I think that he was confused by the number of timeouts that were remaining. His intention was with one timeout, that we would milk the clock the best we would. However, they had two timeouts left. So, that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Q: Was there any consideration on going for it on fourth down on the next play?
A: Was I thinking about that? If we had run the ball, I might’ve. But not in that circumstance, no. What I really didn’t want have to have happen is to—they have an outstanding kicking game, an outstanding kicker capable of 50 plus yards. I did not want to give them the opportunity to tie the game with a field goal. So my mind was in tune to put some points on the board, although as I had explained I think in great depth, my intent was to be up 10.
Q: Going back a second, when you talk about he was confused about the timeouts, were you talking about Rashad or Eli?
A: No, it was Eli.
Q: At the two minute warning, you guys had the third down. If you get a first down there, is the plan at that point to sort of run the clock down and not get in the end zone? Had that been discussed by you guys at any point?
A: Well the thing that is always discussed is we want to get them out of timeouts and then be in a position where we can kneel. That’s wasn’t the case.
Q: On that final drive—the Cowboys game-winning drive, it looked like you were in base defense for most of that drive. Is that correct and if so, what was the thinking behind that?
A: No, we weren’t in base defense, we were in nickel. Trying to match their personnel.
Q: How do you think Uani [Unga] did there? First start, playing middle linebacker.
A: You know what, he played hard, he was aggressive, he made a lot of tackles. He certainly got himself out of position a couple of times. But for a guy put in that position, I thought he responded very well.
Q: Do you have any updates on Jon Beason or Victor Cruz or any of the other injuries?
A: No I don’t. I wish I did, but I don’t.
Q: How about Ereck Flowers? He looked like he hurt his ankle.
A: They’re doing the usual number of MRI’s etc. etc. I don’t have any information in front of me about that. He did injure the ankle early on and he gutted it out and finished the game. But today is a different day.
Q: How’d you think he did playing-wise?
A: He was limited to a certain extent because of the injury, but I thought he battled away, and that’s what we always counted on—that he would battle. And he did.
Q: Was there any point in that final drive by Dallas where you thought about maybe, “I’ll call a timeout and make sure my defense is on the same page.”
A: Just one time, but they stood over the ball long enough for us to settle in. There was one time when the ball was approaching the red zone, that it looked like there was some confusion, but then the ball was not snapped right away and people were in position. And it ended up being an incomplete pass. That’s always a consideration.
Q: Eli is obviously a guy that’s always in control, and the confusion over timeouts is a little out of character for him. When something like that happens, is it easy to dismiss or do you have to change any of the process of communication late in the game because of that?
A: It’s never happened before. I completely trust Eli, I always have. He’s extremely into the game, he’s aware of all the circumstances. As he comes over to the sideline, he relates what he sees and so on and so forth, from his position. To be honest with you, nothing like that has ever happened. His mind was in the right place here, he just didn’t have all the facts right, and unfortunately we didn’t get it corrected.
Q: There was a timeout before that third down play. Is it normal for you not to communicate directly with the quarterback?
A: Well, those are 30-second timeouts. The coordinators on the headset are with the quarterback at the time as well.
Q: He came over to the sideline?
A: He came over to the sideline, I think, prior to those plays. He may have come over to the sideline right there, too.
Q: Do you regret not telling him, “Hey, we got to make sure not to throw the ball away at that point?”
A: Do I regret? If I had a minute and a half, I could have gone down through the litany. But again, it was a third-down call, we were trying to score. That was the whole idea. We were trying to score with the play that was called. Again, hindsight is 20-20. I think Eli would agree this morning that if in fact he was pressured and didn’t have an opportunity, that he would go down and let the clock run. So, that would be my position on that.
Q: You didn’t know that Rashad at the time was not trying to score, though. Is that something that you found out later and when did you find that out?
A: Well, I don’t know if that’s exactly the case. I do know that it came up after the game, which I hadn’t heard that before.
Q: How is your team today? I know it was a crazy trip back and obviously a brutal loss. You always say Monday is rough, but is this one especially rough?
A: Well they were tired. There was not much sleep, nobody got any sleep. The guys were tired, and they were sad, they were disappointed. They were relating to the sequence, as it is, following a game—your Monday, but they were doing it without any sleep. It was a different kind of day, let’s put it that way. And again as I said, we talked about yesterday’s game and about going forward and how I urged them to get to bed early tonight and again tomorrow night. Because sometimes it’s a couple of days before it really hits you. And then come to work Wednesday morning excited about looking forward not backward.
Q: What did you think about your two top picks and how they played in their first NFL game? Flowers and Landon Collins.
A: Well I thought that they both played hard, and they both handled the situation very well. To be starting and playing in a game in the NFC East division, in Dallas, in their first regular season game—I thought they handled it very well.
THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and audio of Monday’s media sessions with the following players:
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off Tuesday before returning to practice on Wednesday in preparation for Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Falcons.