POLITI: GIANTS' TOM COUGHLIN BEATS JETS' REX RYAN BUT DOESN'T NEED TO SAY SO
"This was a victory for the Giants’
way of doing business, and the man who embodies that better than anyone limped
off the field today with a throbbing left leg and a head held high.
Tom Coughlin loves to quote military leaders, and in his finest moment this
season, he even looked like a general returning from the battlefield. A nasty
collision left him hobbled, but after watching his team shut up its loudmouth
neighbors with a
29-14 victory, he couldn’t stop smiling.
“Never better!” he practically yelled when asked how he was feeling. “Thanks
That was as close as Coughlin would come to gloating late this afternoon, but
if anyone deserved to pound his chest, it was him. His team was the best in this
corner of the NFL world, by a mile, in the one game it mattered. His team was
hungrier, better prepared and more focused in a season-on-the-brink matchup with
Rex Ryan did the talking. Coughlin did the winning. Did he have any message
for the rival coach — the Patrick Ewing of football coaches when it comes to
undelivered guarantees — who did everything but set his résumé on fire in the
days leading up to this one?
“We won the game,” Coughlin said. “That’s the statement.”
There will be more statements in days and weeks to come, and that likely
includes one from the Giants announcing a contract extension for their head
coach. Owner John Mara wasn’t going there today, because he said it would “just
lead to more speculation.” But the look on his face said everything.
The Jets had classlessly covered up the Giants three Super Bowl murals with
black curtains, but Mara was beaming like they had just won a fourth. They get
to host the Cowboys with a division title on the line next week, and maybe
Mara’s mood will change if the Giants get their doors blown off.
That’s not likely — and Coughlin, for what he’s done to hold this team
together, deserves to come back. He’s taken an undermanned, injury-riddled team
to within a victory of the postseason, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he
ripped the tent off the circus act that shares MetLife Stadium.
“What do you think? It does,” Mara said when asked if this victory means more
to him. “Given everything that was at stake, given all the noise coming out of
Florham Park, yes it does.”
Plenty of that noise, it should be noted, came from East Rutherford, too,
including in the aftermath of this game. Brandon Jacobs couldn’t stop himself
from running up to Ryan and yelling “time to shut up, fat boy” — the coach had
to be pulled away from the running back — an unnecessary gesture even if, well,
None of the noise came from Coughlin. It was Ryan who couldn’t help himself,
behaving like a chef expecting a four-star review before the salad was served.
“Certainly we were the better team in (my) first two years,” Ryan said. “We made
the playoffs, went to the championship game. To say a team’s better than you
that never went to the playoffs is ridiculous.”
Just one problem, Rex: Coughlin never said that. He never said anything close
to that. In that way, this was more than a victory for the Giants. It was a
victory for the old-school way of conducting yourself as a head coach. It was
victory for class.
Ryan was supposed to be the master motivator, the one who bragged about his
ice-cream socials with the offense each week. Coughlin was supposed to be the
guy his players tuned out, the clock-watching dinosaur pushing these gym-teacher
concepts like “accountability” and “teamwork.”
Nothing the Jets said was tacked onto some bulletin board, but that doesn’t
mean Coughlin didn’t motivate. Justin Tuck gushed about the way Coughlin pulled
him aside during the week, asking him if everything was okay in his private life
and then made a simple request.
“He asked me to give him what I had,” Tuck said, and of course, the defensive
lineman gave everything in his finest game of the season. The Giants defensive
front was all over quarterback Mark Sanchez, who’ll be an easy target as the
Jets pick up the pieces here.
But no one should forget this: Sanchez dropped back to throw 59 times. That’s
on the coaching staff. Maybe it’ll lead to Ryan firing offensive coordinator
Brian Schottenheimer, but some of the blame has to come back to the man in
Ryan spent another offseason making promises he couldn’t keep, talking about
the Super Bowl he was going to win. Imagine how Coughlin felt when he showed up
at his stadium today and saw the mural for the one he did win covered up with a
Of course, that’s the beauty of Coughlin. We’ll have to imagine. “I won’t
mention what I thought,” he said, handling himself in victory the way he did
before kickoff. With his head held high. With class."