The game was over, except it was not over. And so, Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay’s first-year coach from Rutgers, instructed his team to take the New York Giants’ final snap of Sunday’s game as an opportunity to force a fumble, not concede defeat.
That’s not how it’s usually done in the NFL, but that does not mean it’s right — or that Schiano’s way was wrong.
So, Schiano ordered his defensive lineman to crowd the ball and surge on the snap. Protocol says you let the opponent take a knee, kill the clock and celebrate. They tried to disrupt the snap by pushing the line into Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning , an offensive lineman knocking into the star quarterback. It wasn’t successful; unless the point was to show the league the Bucs were no longer lying down and/or send the generally genteel Giants over the edge.
Coughlin was irate and told Schiano so on the field immediately afterward.
“I don’t think you do that,” Coughlin said.
“Little bit of a cheap shot,” Manning added.
“We fight until they tell us ‘game over,’ ” Schiano responded. “There’s nothing dirty about it. There’s [nothing] illegal about it.”
And with that the NFL has if not its newest rivalry, then at least it has a new coach who isn’t all that interested in old school unspoken rules.
Coughlin, the oldest coach in the league at 66, immediately confronted the burly Schiano – two decades his junior – after the game. Schiano didn’t back down. There was no physical contact, just the two of them barking nose-to-nose.
Coughlin is correct of course, this isn’t something that’s generally done in the NFL and it’s a perfectly dumb way to get someone injured.
Schiano has a side also, though. He’s going to coach his team his way, and if building an identity that speaks to the intensity of the new guy in charge and the belief that toughness and all-out, until-the-final-gun effort are the only ways to build a Super Bowl contender, then so be it.
“We’re not going to quit,” Schiano told reporters after the game. “That’s just the way I coach and teach our players. If some people are upset about it, that’s just the way it goes. I don’t have any hesitation. That’s the way we play. We play clean, hard football until they tell us the game is over.”
Some of the Bucs players, according to reports from the locker room, seemed a bit embarrassed by the tactic and resorted to shrugging it off as just following orders. An ESPN poll Monday sided with Schinao, 53 per cent to 47 per cent. More than one million viewers chimed in.