To score or not to score...
Coaches talk about Super Bowl's final minute
Going on a couple weeks after the Super Bowl and there’s still a lot of debate over the way the game ended.
Here’s a quick recap:
The Giants are down by two points with less than a minute left. They score a Ahmad Bradshaw scores the touchdown, even though he thought about going down to take more time off the clock.
New England gets the ball back and Tom Brady heaves up a hail marry that is almost caught in the end zone as time expires.
Both coaches were scrutinized for their decisions in that final minute.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin was criticized for allowing his team to score, which gave New England time left, instead of just milking the clock down to a couple seconds and kicking a chip shot field goal to win by a point.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was criticized for waiting too long to let the Giants score. He could have just let them score a few plays earlier, which would have given Brady more time to lead a potential game-winning drive.
I asked Eureka College coach Kurt Barth and Metamora High School coach Pat Ryan what they thought of the strategy in that final minute.
“That’s a tough one,” Barth said. ‘I can see both sides. You are never guaranteed points, so you can’t fault Coughlin for scoring when he had the chance. You score and rely on your defense in the final minute.”
Barth pointed out that New England was in the Super Bowl because Baltimore missed a short field goal the week before in the AFC Championship game, so you can never automatically assume a kicker is gong to make one, even a “chip shot.”
Ryan emphatically sided with Coughlin.
“Granted, at our level it’s different, but you never turn down the chance to score six points,” he said. “If the touchdown is there, you take it. Always. I’ve never in my whole career told a player not to score.”
Barth said he could see Belichick’s side, too.
“He didn’t have much of a choice there. You just have to let them punch it in, so you can have some tile left to try to score. When you have Tom Brady, you know you always have a chance.”
Barth said his team faced a similar situation against Greenville last season.
Eureka scored with a minute left to take the lead, but Greenville came back to score and won the game in the final seconds.
“We scored on a big play (a long touchdown from wide receiver Wes Schmidgall). wes made a great play. I’m not going to tell him to fall down. I wanted him to score. Unfortunately, we couldn’t holed Greenville ion the final minute.”
Ryan said he’s dealt with that situation, too, but he always stood by the decision to score when you have the chance.
“Against Rochester a couple years ago, we scored, and I was thinking, ‘Oh boy. There’s still time left.’ But, we were able to hold them.”
Another interesting side to this story is the fact that Brady’s hail marry pass was very close to being caught.
“For some reason, a Giants’ player tipped the ball back to where there were only New England players. It was close to being caught (by TE Rob Gronkowski),” Barth said.
Ryan said, “You tell your guys to always knock the ball to the ground (on defense against a hail marry).”
The Giants won, so Coughlin obviously made the right moves in the end, but it sure was a close one.