One of the questions I meant to ask Tom Coughlin yesterday in the Bills roundup but forgot to was about his challenge on the Mario Manningham play in the end zone. He said after the game that knew the rule (“blah, blah, blah”) and knew that he would not win the challenge, but he did it anyway. In a game that was increasingly coming down to the fourth quarter, why burn a timeout in futility there?
So I asked him about it today.
“The ball was in the end zone, it was on his stomach while his back was lying on the floor in the end zone, at that point in time he had control of it,” Coughlin said. “Upstairs they were ‘Is it? Isn’t it?’ Why would I let a play like that go by? Maybe they don’t have as many camera angles, maybe there is something that they see that … There’s been three or four of these plays where there has to be some consistency established from a standpoint of getting it one way. We saw one the other day on television that looked exactly like this one and it was a touchdown. I just felt that I did not want that to go by if there was any chance at all that it would be overruled and it would be called a touchdown.”
The ruling was the same one that denied Calvin Johnson of a game-winning touchdown against the Bears last season. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground.
Still, even after watching the play on the big video board in the stadium himself, Coughlin decided it was worth the challenge so he wouldn't have to hear it from us (although he heard it from us -- or at least me -- about it today anyway!)
“I had all three,” Coughlin continued, a reference to his timeouts. “Sometimes there’s a reason to challenge when you either don’t have the full evidence or really don’t believe you’re going to win it, but you do it anyway at certain points in the game. You may have an ulterior motive. In this case my motive was: If there’s any chance at all, after a play like that, that the ball could be ruled a score, I certainly didn’t want one of you guys coming to me after the game saying ‘Did you know that was a catch?’”