Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin weren't the only ones who flubbed their jobs on Sunday night.
The list of culprits who contributed to the Giants' heartbreaking one-point loss to the Cowboys continues to grow, even as all parties attempt to move past the less than memorable performance. The newest goats in the pen include offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, kicker Josh Brown and even the officials.
Sources confirmed to Newsday that the NFL admitted to the Giants that its officials blew two critical calls that likely would have affected the game's outcome. The NFL Network first reported the admission.
The first incorrect call was a pass interference flag against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the third quarter that the NFL now says should not have been thrown. The second was a non-call for holding on tight end Daniel Fells on the infamous third-and-goal play late in the fourth quarter.
The flag against DRC was a real momentum swinger. With the Giants up 16-6, Rodgers-Cromartie appeared to knock down a pass from Tony Romo to Terrence Williams in the end zone on third and 4. Instead of settling for a likely field goal, the Cowboys were given first-and-goal at the 2. Romo threw a touchdown pass on the next play to make it 16-13.
"That was a critical time in the game,'' Rodgers-Cromartie said. "You go from third down to giving them a first down and they're going in. From possibly kicking a field goal to getting seven. It was definitely a crucial point in the game.''
NFL spokesman Michael Signora declined to comment on the calls, noting that conversations between the league's officiating department and the clubs are confidential.
As for the third-and-goal pass from the 1, Coughlin insisted immediately after the game that it was his fault for not calling a run there to burn more time off the clock. McAdoo, speaking for the first time Thursday, said he wanted to be aggressive in that situation and that's why he called for the play-action rollout with only the one target available: Fells.
"I understood the situation,'' McAdoo said. "The thing I failed to do was mention to Eli that if it wasn't open, to eat the football. That's something that I take responsibility for and take ownership of."
McAdoo said as play-caller he tries not to bog down his radio communications with Manning with too much information.
"You start giving him too much information, you can slow him down,'' McAdoo said. "That's something that we're always going to be conscious of.''
And then there is Brown, who kicked four field goals but mis-hit the kickoff after the Giants took a 26-20 lead with 1:37 remaining. It looked like a squib kick and was returned to the 28, but special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said Brown just missed it.
"I think Josh tried to do a little bit more and get a little bit into it,'' Quinn said. "I used to play golf, and any time I tried to put more into it, it didn't go how I wanted.''
In the final two minutes on Sunday, few things went right for the Giants. It was such a debacle that twice in his 10-minute meeting with the media McAdoo referenced having to "flush'' the experience.
"Every game you live and you learn,'' McAdoo said. "Ideally, you'd like to win and get a little bit better along the way. Unfortunately for us, we didn't win last week and we learned a lot. There were some painful lessons there. We have to take them, and move forward with them.''