Giants coach Tom Coughlin, right, exchanges heated words with Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano.
By Julio Cortez, AP
East Rutherford, NJ (written by Mike Garafalo/USA Today) -- After a wild fourth quarter that included 32 points, 385 total yards, two go-ahead touchdowns for the New York Giants and a near-comeback by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the big story was the final play: a kneel down to end the game.
And the screaming match between coaches Tom Coughlin and Greg Schiano that ensued.
Coughlin was upset with Schiano because Bucs linemen bulldozed the middle of the Giants offensive line and knocked over quarterback Eli Manning after the Giants had sealed their 41-34 victory with an interception. The code between players is that's usually not a full-contact play.
"We do what we're coached," Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "I'll leave it at that."
Apparently, Schiano didn't get that unwritten rule book.
"I don't know if that's not something that's done in the National Football League, but what I do with our football team is we fight until they tell us the game is over," said the former Rutgers coach, who is in his first year as an NFL head coach. "There's nothing dirty about it. There's nothing illegal about it. You crowd the ball. It's like a (quarterback) sneak defense. We try to knock it loose. But there's nothing illegal about it."
The Giants disagreed, at least with Schiano's contention that it wasn't a dirty play.
"That was a first," Manning said. "Obviously, I think it's a little bit of a cheap shot. We're taking a knee, we're in a friendly way and they're firing off, and that's a way to get someone hurt."
Said right guard Chris Snee: "It's just unfortunate this is what we have to talk about when you have a great fourth-quarter game between two teams, and all you're talking about is really a bush-league play at the end. Fortunately, nobody got hurt. Guys are throwing helmets into knees. It's the end of the game. They might do that in college, but we don't do that here."
Fox cameras caught Coughlin seeming to yell, "What was that all about?" as he approached Schiano for the postgame handshake. Schiano's head blocked Coughlin's lips from the camera's view for the rest of the confrontation, though Coughlin turned back to shake his counterpart's hand.
"You don't do that in this league," Coughlin said. "You jeopardize not only them, you jeopardize the offensive line, you jeopardize the quarterback.
"Thank goodness we didn't get anybody hurt that I know of."
Said Giants center David Baas, "All I'm saying is you win or you lose with class."
Schiano initially tried to dismiss questions about the confrontation in his postgame news conference.
"That's between Coach and I," he said. "We had some stuff we had to hash out, I guess."