(not from Sunday night’s game)
For all the talk the past two days about Eli Manning’s decision to tell running back Rashad Jennings not to score a TD late in Sunday night’s game, one pretty glaring element of Eli’s calculation has received scant attention. There’s been a lot of focus on the fact that Eli thought Dallas had fewer timeouts than it did – which would have affected how much time would run off the clock before Dallas would get the ball back.
But what really makes no sense is not the timeout issue. It’s the score. The Giants were up by three when they were approaching the Dallas goal line with under two minutes to go Sunday night. Had they scored a touchdown, they would have had a ten-point lead, a nearly impossible score to overcome with ninety seconds to play. A field goal, on the other hand, leaves Dallas still within six points. Even with 40 seconds left on the clock, the win probability is certainly much higher in the former case than the latter one.
Evidence that Eli himself wasn’t thinking clearly about the score comes from his weekly talk with Mike Francesa yesterday. In explaining his thinking to Francesa about the late-game thought process, Eli hearkened back to Super Bowl XLVI. In that game, which the Giants won 21-17 over the Patriots, they faced a similar late-game situation. Trailing 17-15 with under two minutes to go, the Giants drove to the Patriots goal line. On first down, Eli handed the ball of to Ahmad Bradshaw. As Bradshaw approached the goal line on first down, the Pats elected not to tackle him. Bradshaw realized it too late, awkwardly falling over into the end zone for what ended up being the winning score. The reason the Pats let Bradshaw go and the reason the Giants wished he hadn’t was because even with the touchdown, the Patriots would still be within a touchdown of taking the lead. Had the Pats held the Giants to a field goal, they’d only be down by a point, but with very little time to mount any drive. Allowing the touchdown but saving the time.
But that’s not the scenario the Giants faced Sunday night, since they had a chance to go up by what would have been a nearly game-clinching two scores. And again, I’ve heard almost no talk of that piece of the puzzle, which just baffles me.
I can also assure you that had a young quarterback done this, all we’d have heard about would have been his lack of “experience” in these kinds of situations.