You’d think that as Tom Coughlin gets older, losses like Sunday’s against the Eagles become easier to accept. More wisdom and perspective. More maturity. More of a life-goes-on philosophy.
“It’s 10 times more difficult,” Coughlin said in his weekly interview with Giants.com. “Losing, it kills you.”
It doesn’t help that Coughlin has been beating himself up over some key decisions late in the game. He was too aggressive when he should have played it more conservatively on the pass to Ramses Barden that resulted in the penalty that pushed the Giants to the outer limits of field goal range, and he was too conservative when he should have been more aggressive on third down with 15 seconds left and a chance to at least try for a pass along the sideline that could have nudged the game-winning attempt a few yards closer.
“You just think, particularly based on our experiences, that when we’re in that position, we’re going to win,” Coughlin said. “We had a minute and something left. We’re going to win the game. Now, to be honest with you, we always have our timeouts preserved and if we had one timeout in our pocket, I believe we’re going to win the game.”
Coughlin mentioned several elements that went into his thinking late in the game, including the way the Eagles forced the Giants to burn their timeouts (Vick took a sack), the fact that the Giants were on the road and could not completely trust things like the game clock operator (interesting!), and the idea that many teams do not put on a heavy rush against a third-down field goal attempt (the Eagles did).
In the end, it was a 19-17 dagger for Coughlin.
“The losses are much more difficult to get over the further you are in your career,” he said. “They’re killers. You don’t sleep. I went on that couch right there (in his office) at 3 o’clock in the morning and I could not get to sleep because, to be honest with you, I kept going over, over and over saying, ‘How could I have helped our team when it was 15 seconds left?’ Of course, I’ve got all the scenarios the next morning. Sure, it’s easy. But who’s telling you a 44-yarder is an easy field goal? We had made two yards on a run and they know we’re throwing the ball.”
Coughlin had good reasons for the decisions he made on Sunday night, in the heat of the game, and had the field goal been a few feet longer then it all would have been moot. Instead, it’s haunting him.
“You do (relive the sequence), over and over and over and over,” Coughlin said, “and it’s not healthy.”