EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Instead of a handshake, Tom Coughlin had choice words for Greg Schiano.
The rookie coach had his team play hard when the Giants tried to end their 41-34 win over Tampa Bay with a traditional kneel-down. Coughlin screamed at the former Rutgers coach as they met on the field, and even turned around and yelled again when Schiano said something back to him. He seemed to mouth the word “bush.”
The nastiness of the scene was reminiscent of the run-in between San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz after a 49ers win in a close game in Detroit last October.
“I don’t think you do that,” Coughlin said after the game. “You jeopardize the O-line, you jeopardize the quarterback. Thank goodness we didn’t get anybody hurt — that I know of. A couple of linemen were late coming in.”
Eli Manning, who threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns, was knocked on his rear end on the play in which the interior of the Bucs’ line bull-rushed up the middle.
Manning wasn’t hit by a Bucs player, but the momentum of his line being pushed back sent him down.
“It was a little bit of a cheap shot,” Manning said. “We’re taking a knee in a friendly way and they’re firing off. It’s a good way to get someone hurt.”
Schiano, who spent the past 11 seasons coach at Rutgers, defended the play. He refused to say what Coughlin and he discussed.
“I don’t know if that’s something not done in the National Football League,” Schiano said. “What I do with our football team is we fight until they tell us ‘game over.’ There’s nothing dirty about it. There’s not illegal about it. We crowd the ball. It’s like a sneak defense and we try to knock it loose.
“If people watched Rutgers, they would know that’s what we did at the end of the game. We’re not going to quit. That’s the way I coach and teach our players.”
Bucs players said they do what their coach tells them.
“I’ve been in the NFL for a while and seen a lot of things,” Tampa Bay defensive lineman Michael Bennett said. “Whatever the coach asks us to do, that’s our job. It’s like someone asks you write a story about something you don’t want to write about, you still do it. That’s what coach believes in. That’s how we play the game.”
Veteran safety Ronde Barber said Schiano believes in playing until the ref puts his hands over his head and ends the game.
“That’s what we’re going to do. That’s my job,” Barber said. “I don’t care about their frustration. It’s not my job to care about them.”
The Giants weren’t so forgiving.
“I was on the sideline and I was kind of confused about it,” said receiver Victor Cruz, who had 11 catches for 179 yards, including an 80-yard TD. “It was a little bit of a cheap shot. You don’t do that. Once I saw the offensive line get upset, I knew what they had done. You don’t do that. As professionals, you understand what this game is. You don’t take a cheap shot like that. There’s a slim chance of a fumble, but it felt more like a cheap shot.”
Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck said there is no protocol for that type of play.
“It won’t be forgotten,” he said.
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