Tom Coughlin made two calls—one before and one during— a game against the Dallas Cowboys yesterday that saved the New York Giants season and probably saved his job—again.
Before Sunday's game in Dallas, the Giants head coach benched arguably his best running back Ahmad Bradshaw for the first half before the season's biggest game and then later called a time-out to ice rookie Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey's 47-yard field goal seconds from sending the game into overtime.
Taking a cue from Cowboy's head coach Jason Garrett—who iced his own kicker last week in a loss against the Arizona Cardinals— Coughlin's call made Bailey attempt a do-over which was blocked by Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul.
The blocked kick gave the Giants (7-6) an unbelievable 37-34 victory and put them in first place of the NFC East ahead of the Cowboys (7-6) via tie breaker. The two teams will clash again on New Year's Day at MetLife Stadium.
Benching Bradshaw was a game day decision after the running back reportedly violated team curfew although neither the player or coach would confirm that. Either way, Bradshaw suited up and played ineffectively during the second half.
Brandon Jacobs, who was called a "bully" by Cowboys DB Mike Jenkins earlier in the week, got the start and lived up to the new nickname. The Giants bruiser rumbled through the Cowboys defense for 101 yards on 19 carries and two TD's.
As many things that went right for the Giants went wrong.
Eli Manning overcame numerous tipped and dropped passes to keep the G-Men close for three quarters but when it looked like the Cowboys had the game in control, Manning came alive and led the team to 15 points in the last 5:41.
It was Manning's fifth fourth quarter comeback victory this season and after losing four straight, the Giants find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt.
But it all comes down to Coughlin.
Call him a taskmaster, old school or just plain out of touch with today's player—but he does it his way.
Every year there are calls for the rosy-cheeked Coughlin's head— especially when the team begins their annual December swoon. Maybe this year things will be different.
"We needed to have a locker room celebration," said Coughlin in the Giants locker room after the win. "We've been starving for for that."
Yesterday's victory changes everything about the Giants. If the Giants lost, they would trail the Cowboys by two games for even the final wild-card spot and end the regular season facing division rival The Washington Redskins, New York City rival the New York Jets and, of course, their arch enemy the Cowboys.
That road is more of a slosh through the Meadowlands swamps than a romp through Central Park.
Maybe this Giants team isn't reminiscent of Coughlin's former teams. The running game has been anemic, the defense lets opponent's offense have their way all game long and it has given up 114 points in the last three games, but if there is a constant, it is Coughlin.
The more things change, the more they don't.