Back in October, we relayed to you an interesting find from the guys at Smart Football, who stumbled upon a page from one of Buddy Ryan’s playbooks from Houston.
Essentially, the play — full diagram and explanation here — purposely called for more than 11 men on the field, essentially meaning that the defense was deliberately taking a too-many-men penalty, but taking valuable time off the clock…time that the offense can’t get back regardless of the penalty.
Ryan’s play was for goal-line situations, but it also makes sense if there are about 10 or 20 seconds left and an opponent with no timeouts remaining is in Hail Mary mode.
Sunday night, the Giants sent 12 men out with 17 seconds left. With that advantage, they successfully defended against the Hail Mary, losing only five yards due to the penalty while taking eight seconds off the clock.
Slate thinks that Justin Tuck is actually trying to get off the field prior to the snap, but it’s tough to tell and NBC didn’t provide a live replay with a wide shot. Regardless, it appears Coughlin used the strategy by accident. Had he been doing it on purpose, he would have used more than 12 men. Why not 13 or 14 or 45? Seriously, there’s nothing in the rules that gives the officials the right to blow the play dead in the instance that the Giants put the entire team on defense for a play like that.
Now we’ll see if the NFL closes an exposed loophole by introducing tweaks to that rule this offseason.