Rutgers twice forced victory formation fumbles under Schiano


The debate regarding whether the Bucs were right to crash the Giants’ victory formation rages on.  But before reaching a final conclusion, consider this nugget from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:  During 11 years at Rutgers, Schiano’s defense twice forced a fumble in victory formation.

Both happened in 2009, against Pitt and against West Virginia.  (In the West Virginia game, the Scarlet Knights were offside.)

So consider that when deciding whether it was — or wasn’t — a “cheap shot” to decide to take a shot at forcing the ball loose and in turn forcing overtime and in turn winning the game.

For more, here’s a portion of Monday’s Pro Football Talk, with former NFL safety Rodney Harrison taking a position that may surprise you.

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88 responses to “Rutgers twice forced victory formation fumbles under Schiano

  1. Down by 7 or less and this play is perfectly legal and unwritten rules are out the window. 8 or more and this is dumb, but still within the rules.

  2. And the baby Giants think he should follow the “unwritten NFL rule” and not play aggressively in that situation. Give me a break. Go get ’em Schiano

  3. Schiano better watch out, you’re not allowed to step on the toes of the Holier Than Thou New York Football Giants.

    If he ticks them off too much, John Mara will see to it that their cap space gets penalized.

  4. Im from NJ and I was a huge rutgers fan when schiano was the coach there. The guy is a tough coach and will do anything to when hence the fact that they tried to force a fumble against the giants yesterday.

    A lot of people say its a cheap shot but at the same time its not illegal. I can understand where both coaches are coming from. Schiano is just letting all the teams know that the bucs arent going down without a fight.

  5. I never knew that has ever happened. Now that I know that, not only do I think he was right for doing it, I think everyone should do it!

    Play 60 freakin minutes… if there’s a chance to get the ball back, you gotta go for it!

  6. “You play to WIN THE GAME.”

    – Mr. Edwards

    Quit crying. If the Giants would have fumbled the ball and TB recovered, we’d all be talking about how great of a coach Schiano is for coaching his team to win until the end of the game.

  7. Kjm18,

    7 ok, 8 no? Two point conversion?

    Did Rutgers win the ONE game it was actually successful?

    Schiano should know, he’s not in College anymore. Certain degree of knowing when you were beat.

  8. What a load…

    The whole point of the victory formation is to let off the gas and avoid running up the score when a game is done and essentially won. It’s true that technically it was legal to “bust it” but so is running up the score. I hope Schiano is prepared for that from now on if he’s going to pull a bush league stunt like that.

  9. Giants were not ‘letting up’. They were avoiding taking another play to ice the win. Don’t wanna fumble right?

  10. Schiano coaches his players to play hard and ball out. I saw nothing late. Nothing dirty. Nothing that wasn’t anything but clean, hard-nosed football.

    My Steelers have long had a similar mentality, and if I’m a Bucs’ fan — I would be pretty pumped to have that kind of coach setting the tempo.

  11. Cracks me up that no one sees this as the Bucs acting like spoiled little brats. What they didn’t have time to take the ball and run home tears streaming down their faces? If they wanted to win the game they should have shown some fight in the fourth quarter and not save it all for the last seconds of the game.

  12. You guys are all forgetting the first miracle at the meadowlands. The eagles crashed the giants line on a kneel down, next play the giants decide to hand off to run the ball so it didn’t happen again. Guess what, fumble forced and recovered by Herm Edwards ran back length of field for the win. It has happened. Not likely but possible. Let’s also remember that upon change of possession, the clock automatically stops. What Schiano has done is ensure that other teams won’t kneel on it to end game. Thus taking an opportunity yesterday to try to pull off a miracle and ensuring that his team will now have future opportunities to cause fumbles bc other teams will not take chance against the Bucs again. Smart coaching every way you look at it.

  13. I’m normally behind unwritten rules, however I did not know this was one. You kneel down b/c you are playing it safe and not running a play. So man up and protect the ball, as it is the only thing that matters. Coughlin is a grumpy ol fart.

  14. Technically they caused one fumble. Because they didn’t create the second fumble when they were offside. Once. In eleven years.

    And let’s face it. It can really only work if the offense isn’t expecting it. Now that everyone in the NFL knows Schiano will try it, the offensive lines will start popping his D in the mouth when playing out the string.

    The good news for the Bucs is they should get plenty of practice at this.

  15. Rodney Harrison also quit on the last 1% of that conversation too, when he wouldn’t admit that he quits. He debated that hard for the first 99%, but like his playing style, he quits just before it’s over.

    I bet if he was a boxer he would just quit with 9 seconds to go in the 12th round if he thought he was a ahead. Why try, even getting knocked down you can still get saved by the bell. Why fight for the entire fight?

    Sorry Rodney you didn’t make the HOF. You missed it by one vote and we stopped counting with one vote yet uncounted. We were pretty sure the odds were low enough that it wasn’t worth the bother. Next time you have a playing career try and get that extra 1% you need while you play. If you really deserved it then you would have pushed harder when you were playing.

  16. oranjellojones says:
    Sep 17, 2012 9:53 PM
    What a load…

    The whole point of the victory formation is to let off the gas and avoid running up the score when a game is done and essentially won. It’s true that technically it was legal to “bust it” but so is running up the score. I hope Schiano is prepared for that from now on if he’s going to pull a bush league stunt like that.

    I’ll bet that Schiano will welcome teams “running it up” on them if it means not kneeling on a sure victory. The Giants weren’t kneeling to avoid running up the score; they were running out the clock. Huge difference! Of all the opinions I’ve heard on this debate, yours is by far the most poorly thought out and wrong-headed. Congrats.

    I see both sides, and Coughlin has a right to be pissed, I guess, but ultimately, the game is 60 minutes, anything can happen, and rules are written for a reason…that’s what makes them rules. If it’s not a penalty, why not try?

  17. You are comparing Big East football, which is barely considered Division 1 NCAA (and one of the worst teams in the conference) to the NFL?

  18. All this tells me is that I should expect every team to try to to run up the score on the Bucs as much as possible from now until Schiano is gone.

  19. oranjello with a swing and a miss. You are wrong about the point of the victory formation. Not sure if you are a Giants fan, but they of all people should know from whence the kneel down came. It’s not about not running up the score, it is the safest way to keep the clock running to end the game when you are ahead. Re:The Miracle at the Meadowlands. Ask Joe Piscarcik why even running the ball in that situation is ill-advised. I would agree if you’re down by more than 1 score it’s bad form to do as Schiano did, but if a chance exists to win the game, you take it.

  20. For all my years watching Pro-football, I do not remember anyone else doing this.

    Since no one normally does this, the Giants were blindsided. Since all the defending players were blindsided, there was a huge chance of injury as the Bucs slammed through the line to get to Manning.

    In a way I do hope this gets the rest of the NFL to actually play every second of every play of every game. This case however? Coach Schiano took advantage of a years old ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ in a way that could have caused multiple serious injuries. The opposing teams players were all ‘Defenseless’ imho.

    If he were truly the ‘Tough Manly Man’ he has been trying to pose as to the media he would have done a really brave thing. . . told folks before the season started that he intended to play only by the written rules. Unfortunately it is now just a cowardly cheapshot.

  21. It’s legal, he can do what he wants. He won’t have to deal with the results of making his players take cheap shots either. His players will.

    You see this every so often, college coach comes in and thinks the old boys rules are stupid. They think its stupid until it’s their $10 million player that’s out for a year because of some idiot coach. Once he realizes that NFL lineman are a precious and rare commodity maybe he’ll be less likely to needlessly risk their health.

    Pull your head out Schiano.

  22. Coughlin would’ve had no problem if it were five minutes early, because that’s on time.

  23. I agree with oranjellojones. I’m sure that’s what Coach Coughlin discussed w/Schiano at the end of the game.

    Guys, this is PROFESSIONAL football, when it’s game over, it’s over and get over the loss, congratulate the winners and move on….

    If Coughlin kept the offense in high gear, you’d be reading many a complaint about that……..Too many Giants haters out today….

  24. I thought the point was to run out the clock so the game ends while you still have the ball and the lead? There’s a strategy to that and the Bucs wanted to stop that strategy. Seems like the entire point of having an offense and a defense, no reason for anyone to get pissy about either strategy if you ask me. This is football, stop crying, pansies.

  25. @oranjellojones – actually, the use of the victory formation is to avoid turnovers.

    The victory formation was brought into consistent use after the Miracle at the Meadowlands in 1978. The Giants were at their own 29 yard line with 31 seconds left and a 17-12 lead. The Eagles had no timeouts, so all the Giants had to do was run out the clock. However, the Giants offensive coordinator called a run play to the fullback and the fullback fumbled. Herm Edwards of the Eagles recovered the football and returned it for a game winning TD.

    After that coaches unofficially adopted the QB kneel to run out the clock at the end of games because it has the fewest ball transfers (one between the center and the qb). This is its primary function. It has nothing to do with not running up the score. Any attempt by the winning team to run up the score also increases the chances they will turn the ball over and give the other team another chance to score (not a perfect example, but see Ryan Williams of the Cardinals, who fumbled the ball in the waning seconds of the Pats-Cards game, which the Pats recovered).

  26. If I were a coach and up by 30, I would continue pound from here on out until the clock reads 0:00. It’s easy to be an ass once a game is over. They played a great game, but obviously came up a little short.

  27. Gimme a break. Let’s talk about the wing-T he won with in Pop Warner while we’re at it. This is a b.s. move at the pro level, and he knows it.

    And look, I’m from Jersey — let’s all get a grip about Schiano’s genius at the college level. He was 68-67 as the HC at Rutgers. Stop acting like he was Knute Rockne.

  28. No, the purpose of the victory formation is to run out the clock, and to avoid a turnover, not to avoid running up the score. Trying to score entails a greater risk of a turnover.

    The defense attempting to get the ball back, especially when trailing by one score or less, is what they are supposed to do. Wanting to toss the actual rule book in favor of the unwritten rule book is the real bush league maneuver.

    The Giants, of all teams, should be well aware of the possibility of the game turning on the final play, or have they forgotten Joe Pisarcik?

  29. kjm18. Down 7 or less vs 8 or more.

    Last week the Panthers were down only 6 when this same coach (Schiano) who ‘plays all of the 60 minutes’ , with just under 2 minutes left, kneed it out 3 times. I don’t care what he did when he was coaching in college, and I guess I really don’t care what he does now, in the pros. But he does need to remember, YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW! It was a move made because he was upset they kew a huge lead…..and he had obviously already proved he doesn’t always play ALL 60 MINUTES!

  30. It doesn’t matter, now teams will know to look out for it. Although, instead of trying to make the Giants fumble on the kneel, they should have just kept scoring and won the game. Coughlin is pissed in the heat of the moment, doubtful he handles it the same way after a few minutes to cool down.

  31. Bunch of cry babies in NY. You play 60 minutes NOT 59 minutes and 50 seconds.

    Second who ever is calling signals on the OL for NYG should have known it as the bucs were clearly in formation to test the victory formation or come full bore. They weren’t hiding it. Wake up and play the game for 60 full minutes or go home.

    Coughlin you owe real football fans an apology! It was your responsibility to know as schiano ran it frequently at Rutgers. Know your opponent and do your homework and maybe you won’t place your players in a position where they might get hurt due to their lack of awareness in that situation.

  32. Sorry but I can’t take Rodney Harrison’s comments serious when throughout his entire career he was knows as either the dirtiest or 1 of the dirtiest players in the league, but trying to win the game is cheap? Come on!

  33. The quarterbacks for those teams: Jarrett Brown and Bill Stull. Real comparable to Eli Manning.

    At this point I don’t think anyone should care about this anymore, and teams facing the Bucs shouldn’t be shy about running up the score instead of taking a knee against them.

  34. oranjellojones says: Sep 17, 2012 9:53 PM

    What a load…

    The whole point of the victory formation is to let off the gas and avoid running up the score when a game is done and essentially won. It’s true that technically it was legal to “bust it” but so is running up the score. I hope Schiano is prepared for that from now on if he’s going to pull a bush league stunt like that.

    It’s not a victory formation if you’re winning by only one score – it’s the “don’t fumble” formation. They look the same but have different purposes. The reason the Giants didn’t take a shot at the end zone has nothing to do with letting the foot off the gas and everything to do with avoiding a new version of the first Miracle at the Meadowlands.

    As far as I’m concerned, if the reason you’re kneeling is to avoid a fumble then you better be ready for the other time to try to force said fumble. It seems completely fair to me.

  35. I certainly understand the debate before, but the fact that it worked even once should be more than enough to silence those who thought it was bush league before. If you have a chance, even the slimmest of chances, there’s no reason not to. Screw the old men and their unwritten rules. Hail Marys and full court shots and pulling the goalie down 3 work less than 1% of the time too, but it’s the one time it does work that makes all the other attempts worth the effort.

  36. Unwritten rules and fake machismo is for baseball with their ridiculous slights and “challenges” to their manhood. Coughlin is wrong on this issue.

  37. Ok here is the deal. Schiano can’t have his cake and eat it too. He wants his players to play hard the entire 60 minutes fine. However, his defense didn’t try to stop the giants from scoring twice at the end of the game. Brown fell down to make tampa use a Timeout.

    Then after the Bucs came in hard on the victory formation why didn’t Schiano use his last timeout and try it again? I’ll tell you why because he knew it was wrong and it was bush league. If he really thought it was ok, he should have used his timeout and tried it again.

  38. Props to the folks who pointed out the history of the formation but you’re just absolutely wrong that a team is using it to do anything but let off the gas and end a game gracefully now. A QB or RB could just as easily take the ball 2 steps and fall to the ground behind the LOS…same deal and virtually no threat of a fumble. If it was such a successful maneuver then why wasn’t Schiano pulling it every time someone used it instead of just twice? there’s a reaosn why other teams aren’t using it except in the possible rrare exception…it’s bush league.

    I’ll take guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Tom Brady’s word for it (both were critical of it and explained why it’s used on Sirius NFL tonight)…it’s a statement by the offense that they’re done trying to score points on you and will gracefully bow out without hammering you with another score. Busting that play when the offense is essentially being graceful winners by NOT pursuing more points is bush league any way you spin it.

    If not I will be back to eat crow when the practice becomes a trend league-wide. I’m neither a Giants nor a Bucs fan so I have no dog in this hunt, but nice try anyway.

  39. I can see why coughlin is mad but that don’t give him the right to yell at another headcoach like that. The ball is in play till the whistle blows. The play is legal but a bit cheap. Not saying he shouldn’t do it. Do what you have to to win. Coaches get fired quick for not winning.

  40. the fact is as soon as the QB puts his knee down or a player gives himself up is an actual rule of the game.

    Combine that with the fact that in this situation there would have been no time left on the clock to do anything anyway.

    Brings me to conclude that Shiano is just another jerk looking to make a headline!!!

    If he wanted to play the odds and percentages on fumbles and bad snaps, he should have all out blitzed when the giants were on there goal line instead of just letting them score, or try to force them to kick a field goal. That’s what a smart coach would have done!

    BTW there has never been a successful turnover against the victory formation in the NFL

  41. So trying to pull out a miracle victory is bush league, but faking injuries to give your defense a breather is good football? Let’s lose the double standard Coughlin.

  42. It’s just nuts. The Giants scored 25 in the 4th. Here’s a thought, stop them SOMETIME before that last play in the 4th instead of the bush league move on the VERY LAST play of the game!

  43. I’m calling it today-
    teams will avoid the v formation against the bucs and in a big game, while the opponent is running the ball instead of kneeling down, the running back will fumble and the Bucs will look like genius’.

  44. The giants need to move to the lingerie football league if they are going to cry about this and so does anybody or players/coaches. IT’S FOOTBALL! Those girls won’t complain about it in the LFL.

  45. Once again, the Giants make with the “unwritten rule” (like they did with trying to stash Ballard on the practice squad via waivers and then complaining when the Pats picked him up). This is the same team that has gone untouched during this bounty scandal after making clear comments about injuring a player recovering from a concussion. When is this team NOT whining?

  46. I’ve been watching, playing and coaching football for forty years now. I’m not a Giants or Bucs fan, and historically rooted for the non-Jaguars team so I’m used to looking at Tom Coughlin as “the other team’s coach” and sometimes even “the bad guy.” 🙂

    That said, I’m now officially an unabashed, unrepentant fan of Tom Coughlin. He’s a class act, and respects the history and tradition of the game we all love so much.

    We’ve had these traditions for as long as we’ve had airplanes. Traditions that involve and impact practices, games and even seasonal events. Schiano acting like he never knew this makes him look like a colossal idiot. Just come out and say the truth, coach: “Look, I know all about this formation, but I don’t give a crap because all I care about is winning games; and don’t bother me with tradition or sportsmanship because I have none.”

    Somewhere there must be a clear line between competitiveness and profesionallism, and this is on the wrong side of that line.

  47. They played until the end. Can’t criticise a team for that. Why Eli didn’t take more that one step back when it was clear the Bucs were coming is anyone’s guess.

    Line up in the pistol if you want to take a knee. Problem solved.

  48. Each team is allowed to play hard until the final whistle. The fact that the Giants were not prepared to play hard on the last play is Coughlin’s fault.

    I guarantee that every team that plays the Bucs this year have taken notice, learned from Coughlin’s mistake and will make sure to prepare for this happening again. That means each team has to spend practice time on the kneel down with defense rushing hard, taking away from focusing on different parts of their game plan. Plus if teams decide to do something different against the Bucs in this situation, it increases the chances of a fumble or mistake.

    I hope every team decides to rush hard on the final snap if there is even a mathematical chance of them tying the score or winning the game.

  49. 20 bucks says, if the bucs and giants were in the same division (and therefore had to play them again this year) the bucs wouldnt have pulled that.

    i hope they meet in the playoffs and the Gmen run the score into insane territory on the bucs. then after they can say, well we were going to just go into victory formation but you know what happened last time.

    which, by the way is what plenty of other teams are going to do now against the bucs.

    if i were a bucs player i’d be steamed at my head coach.

  50. Bush league…blah blah blah.

    The Giants should shut up and be glad they snuck out of there 1-1 instead of 0-2.

    Eli got tripped and fell down. Oh no! Not like that time Calvin Pace popped him and sent his helmet 20 feet away…

  51. If I’m a coach and down by 8 or less with 10 seconds left, my defense would crash the line too. As the offense is expecting to sit on the ball and relax, it’s the perfect time to make a defensive play.

  52. Wow. That organization does not like when someone violates an unwritten rule. First, Mara has the Skins and Boys take a cap hit. Now, Tommy is turning all purple because TB was trying everything it could to win a game. I’d hate to see what happens if Clay Mathews bunts in the 9th while Eli is pitching a no hitter.

  53. I coach high school football and when we have been in games that were close and a team was trying to take a knee, we put in our short yard defense and try to disrupt the snap by firing off hard into the line… the LB’s are told to shoot the gaps and go for the QB’s hands and ball to try and knock it loose. Every game we’ve done this, we were within a score. Whenever we take a knee, we tell our o-line to cut down their splits, and fire out like they are running a QB Sneak. The two running backs are assigned to the LB’s… and our QB is told to get the snap, get back 4 – 5 steps and take the knee.

    Coughlin needs to coach his players up and have them ready. It is a legit play and like many people, the game isnt over until that last whistle blows.

  54. I guess I was wrong in thinking that when you knelt down in football that meant you were essentially giving yourself up to avoid injury. So when a receiver takes a knee in the endzone, should he be tackled? When a quarterback slides feet first should he be jumped on? When a receiver falls to the ground after a reception is he fair game?

    I hope the next time Tampa lines up in a kneel down formation, the opposing team treats it like a goal line stand and rips of their quarterback’s helmet.

  55. To those who think Schiano did wrong, what is the point of a non-contested play? Why doesn’t the NFL just blow the whistle and run the clock out when the offense lines up in victory?

  56. Oh really it worked twice at Rutgers? Didn’t work this time. There’s a reason no other NFL team uses that play. If the Bucs won, Schiano is a genius. If the play caused a season ending injury to a player, Schiano is a moron. Neither happened. Bucs lost. End of story.

  57. It’s part of the game, play til the clock hits 0:00

    The bucs gave every indication before the snap that they were coming

  58. As a Giants fan and as a sports fan I do not have a problem with the play itself. My problem is that it was dishonest, and in that sense a cheap shot. That call is unheard of in the NFL, and with injuries such a problem for teams and for the league itself, give the other team notice that you’re going to accept a kneel down; announce it, upfront, “like a man,” don’t fire off on o-linemen back on their heels not expecting real contact. With notice and respect for the other team playing the game, the move would be legal and sportsmanlike. This was legal and unsportsmanlike, a cheap shot. So, the Bucs and their supporters can hold up the letter of the law, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a cowardly tactic, and would have been a cowardly way to win a game. Especially having blown a 2 touchdown lead.

  59. to bad the bucs were notbplaying hard for the other 14 minutes and 55 seconds. even if the giants did fumble the game would of been over. the miracle at the meadowlands happened because they disnt kneel. i hate when teams do it for the lasr two minutes like the bucs did against the panthers but there 5 seconds left . this was in bad taste and seems like a sore loser. no one was expecting that to happen why they could get injured. there is a difference between playing hard and playing dumb. know when the game is over. freeman couldnt get the drive done. coughlin knows how to argue lije a mab unlike schawtz.

  60. Nothing wrong with what he did. Finally someone grows a pair and does it. Every coach has wanted too and they cant say they haven’t. Nobody wants to just sat there and take a loss when they think they can do something about it. Eli mannings just a cry baby anyways.

  61. Rodney Harrison’s commentary on this situation sounds like something you’d hear from someone I’d want nowhere near any part of my football team. Can’t believe he thinks that…Rodney Harrison says “give up” Don’t try to win? You had 4 quarters to win and didn’t, so don’t try on this play?” Wow.

  62. If this story is accurate, why does every story from the October 16, 2009 Rutgers/Pitt game ignore any mention of a late game fumble? Can anyone confirm the fumble?

  63. If Schiano really beleives his comments to play for 60 mins, why didnt he tell his guys to bull rush duriung the kneel down that Eli did before the half?

    And why did he twice let Andre Brown in the end zone with 30 seconds left instead of rfighting for a fumble or ball strip?

    College mind-set coaching for sure.

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