The Giants played well last night, despite the final score. But coach Pat Shurmur apparently wanted the final score to more accurately reveal how well they’d played.
That’s the only way to understand Shurmur’s decision to punt on fourth and two from the New York 33 with 7:08 left in the game.
Down 28-14, the Giants needed two scores. Punting the ball would make it extremely hard to generate two more possessions, especially in light of Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s mastery of situational football.
Going for it, however, carried with it the risk of giving the Patriots a short field and an opportunity to extend the lead to 21, creating a final score that looked worse for the Giants. And that’s the only logical explanation for Shurmur’s decision to not give his rookie quarterback a chance to build some self-confidence in himself (Simmsism) by converting a key fourth-down play.
Think of how Jones may have grown as a player if he’d parlayed a fresh set of downs into a touchdown. And what if something screwy had happened (like an ill-advised option play on third and short) to give the Giants another crack at the ball?
We’ll never know whether that would have happened, because Shurmur wanted a final score that would look good to the people who scan the headlines while flipping through the New York newspapers on Friday morning.
Shurmur won’t admit the motivation; he said simply that “I felt like it was the right thing to do” when asked about the situation after the game. But it’s the only motivation that makes sense: Shurmur thought 28-14 looked better than 35-14.
Of course, he ended up with 35-14 anyway because the punt into the wind traveled only 30 yards, and then the Patriots went 63 yards in seven plays to create an outcome that will prompt the headline scanners to conclude that the Giants got blown out.