Finishing properly gives Giants coach Coughlin hope
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — For all the Giants offense accomplished in their 31-24 win over the Dolphins, Tom Coughlin was grateful Tuesday for two plays that involved neither a pass nor run.
They were the ones where quarterback Eli Manning took a knee to run off the final seconds — the so-called victory formation.
The Giants finally finished a game the way their coach had always envisioned, but rarely realized, during a frustrating 6-7 season.
The victory allowed the Giants to remain in a three-way tie atop the weak NFC East with the Redskins and Eagles.
But just as important was how they finished off the Dolphins. It took several key plays to get to victory formation, as well as a few anxious moments.
Eli Manning’s 84-yard touchdown to a wide-open Odell Beckham Jr. in the fourth quarter broke a 24-24 tie early in the fourth quarter. From there, New York kept the ball away from Miami’s offense.
Struggling running back Rashad Jennings, who finished with a season-high 81 yards on 22 carries, had a key first down in the final minutes. Dwayne Harris and Beckham also had key catches.
“The way we just buckled down with the 4-minute runs, there was some real head-knocking in there at that point,” Coughlin said. “I thought that was a little bit of a step forward.”
Manning went 27-of-31 for 337 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions for a near-perfect passer rating of 151.5. Beckham had seven catch, 166 yards and two touchdowns — his sixth straight game with at least 100 yards receiving.
Now that the Giants have finally played a fourth quarter to Coughlin’s satisfaction, the trick is to do it again.
This time, they’ll go against the undefeated (13-0) Carolina Panthers.
“Anytime you have that kind of confidence, there will be a certain measure of accomplishment,” Coughlin said. “The question I’ll have again is, ‘OK, we did this the other night. Do you realize how much we’ll have to improve over that against an undefeated team?’”
NOTES: Coughlin said he has some concern about kicker Josh Brown, whose third-quarter miss from 49 yards marked his second in two games after hitting 19 straight from the start of the season. Brown was 1 for 2 on the night. “We definitely need Josh to get back to the 19-in-a-row kind of thing,” Coughlin said. “Rather than be 1-for-2, the expectation is very high for Josh. We would expect it to be 2-for-2.”... Coughlin said left tackle Ereck Flowers was “very effective” while playing through a left ankle sprain that put him on crutches for part of the practice week. Flowers aggravated the sprain and came out of the game during the fourth quarter.