Coughlin lays into Schiano after 'cheap shot'
Anyone still wondering whether the Buccaneers have fully bought into what Greg Schiano is preaching got the answer Sunday on the last play of Tampa Bay's 41-34 loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
With the Giants lining up to take a knee to kill the final five seconds on the clock, the Bucs followed Schiano's order to go after Manning in an effort to knock the ball loose, sparking a deluge of post-game criticism. As the head coaches met at midfield after the game, Coughlin was profane in accusing Schiano of trying to hurt his quarterback.
"You're going for the ball?" Giants coach Tom Coughlin said as he approached Schiano for their postgame handshake at midfield. "You're trying to hurt the quarterback."
Schiano defended the call, saying it was "legal, clean" and something he "teaches'' his players to keep them playing hard until the final whistle.
"I don't know if that's something that's not done in the National Football League, but what I do with our football team is fight until the game is over,'' Schiano said.
Manning was caught by surprise, but held onto the ball. "That was a first,'' said Manning, who threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns, plus three interceptions. "Obviously I think it's a little bit of a cheap shot. That's a way to get someone hurt.''
Too bad, Bucs veteran defensive back Ronde Barber said. His job and that of all the Bucs players is to do what their coach tells them, and Schiano has made it clear he wants his players to play hard until the final whistle.
"I don't really care about their frustration,'' Barber said. "Coach Schiano believes in playing until the ref puts his hands over his head and ends the game and that's what we're going to do. It is what it is. That's my job.''
Barber was one of several Bucs players who said they'd never been involved in a play like that at the end of the game. All agreed, though, the intent was not to hurt anyone but to try to make a play that could change the game.
"They were mad because they thought we did something dirty,'' defensive end Michael Bennett said. "We're supposed to play till the end of the quarter and coach told us if we can get the ball back and keep going that we should never give up.''
The play, Schiano said, is one he used several times during his 11 years as head coach at Rutgers. He even encouraged critics to look at film of his Rutgers games for proof.
"That's what we did at the end of the game," Schiano said. "We're not going to quit. That's just the way I coach and teach our players. Some people are upset about it. I guess that's the way it goes.
"I don't have any hesitation. That's the way we play. We're going to play clean hard football until the game is over. There's nothing dirty about it, nothing illegal about it. We crowd the ball (at the line of scrimmage). It's like a sneak defense and we try to knock (the ball) loose.''
Schiano has been lauded for his coaching acumen by none other than Patriots coach Bill Belichick, but Coughlin made it clear he thinks Schiano violated the coach's code with his call.
"I don't think you do that at this level,'' Coughlin said. "You don't do that in this league. You jeopardize the offensive line, you jeopardize the quarterback. Thank God we didn't get anyone hurt – that I know of.''
|About the writer|
Roy Cummings has been The Tampa Tribune's primary Buccaneer beat writer for many years now and has a knowledge of the current players that is unsurpassed amongst local reporters. He also appears on Channel 8's news broadcasts on stories about the Bucs. He came to London with the Bucs in 2009 and was at Richmond Park to be part of the Bucs UK's most memorable day when the club took on the UK Patriots at touch football in front of many Bucs alumni and club officials.