After getting manhandled by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first two quarters of Saturday’s Divisional Round game, things were going better for the New York Giants in the second half. Then, Brian Daboll, who had a brilliant first season as New York’s head coach, made a controversial decision that led to immediate second-guessing.
The Giants scored a touchdown in the third quarter, trimming their deficit to 28-7. After getting the ball back, they went on another drive, getting just short of midfield. But facing a fourth-and-six from their own 42-yard line with most of the fourth quarter remaining, Daboll sent punter Jamie Gillan out onto the field, opting to play the field position game.
Brian Daboll and the Giants choose to punt on 4th-and-6 from their 42-yard line, down 21 points with just over 13 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. 🏈🤔 pic.twitter.com/nrvc2agsNk
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) January 22, 2023
This decision did not go over well with football fans.
Punt it near the 50 on 4th and 6 down 21 points, but go for it 4th and 8 around the 50 down 7??
Not sure I get it.
— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) January 22, 2023
This punt is inexcusable. What???? Basically forfeiting the game and season. Almost undoes all good will Daboll has earned this year. Incomprehensible
— Tommy Smokes (@TomScibelli) January 22, 2023
Did the Giants just punt down 21 in the 4th quarter of a playoff game?
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) January 22, 2023
lol why did the Giants just punt that?
— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) January 22, 2023
Went for it on 4th and 8 in the beginning when it’s only 7-0
And you punt down 7-28 in the 4th? Interesting…
— JPA (@jasrifootball) January 22, 2023
Giants are surrendering with this punt
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) January 22, 2023
The decision worked out about as poorly as it could have for Daboll and the Giants. While the Eagles didn’t score a touchdown on their ensuing possession, they did kick a field goal. Worse (from New York’s persepctive, at least), Philadelphia ate up nearly eight minutes on the clock.
To be completely fair, it’s highly unlikely that going for it would have changed Saturday’s final result. Even scoring a touchdown on that play would have left the Giants down two touchdowns. And New York could do nothing to stop Philadelphia’s offense. But going for it and getting it would have given the Giants a chance. Going for it and missing would have at least meant New York went down swinging. Punting was a white flag, and there was too much time left for that.
It also flew not only in the face of a decision Daboll made earlier in Saturday’s game, but what he’s done all year. In the first game of the season against the Tennessee Titans — Daboll’s first ever as an NFL head coach — he elected to go for two after scoring a late touchdown, playing for the win rather than overtime.
Daboll had a fantastic rookie season in New York and stands a great chance at being the NFL Coach of the Year. Saturday, though, was not a good night for him.