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Eli Manning says he told Rashad Jennings not to score

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Giants coach Tom Coughlin told the world to put the blame squarely on him for New York's disastrous clock management late in their collapse in Dallas. Quarterback Eli Manning, however, deserves some of the blame for what happened.

Little did we know that the Giants' most mind-numbing decision came before Manning threw his incomplete pass to stop the clock with 1:37 remaining.

Giants running back Rashad Jennings told ESPN's Dan Graziano after the game that "as a running back, it's always hard when they tell you not to score."

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Jennings is referring to his first- and second-down runs from inside the 5-yard line with under two minutes to go. At first glance, I figured Jennings misspoke. How could the Giants ask Jennings not to score when they were ahead by three points? A touchdown would give the Giants a 10-point lead with under two minutes left.

But Graziano was able to reach Jennings on Monday, and the running back confirmed he was told: "Rashad, don't score."

During a conference call Monday, Manning admitted to telling Jennings not to score, thinking the Cowboys only had one timeout.

"I told (Rashad) not to score ... I thought we were on the same page, to try to get as close as possible, but not get into the end zone. I was wrong with that." Manning said. "I've got to do a better job understanding that if they're not wide open ... that I got to take a sack. I have to be smarter in that scenario."

Apparently Manning got confused when a declined defensive penalty on Dallas stopped the clock with 1:54 left. The Giants believed that the Cowboys had used a timeout, when they had not.

"(Eli's confusion on timeouts) has never happened before. I completely trust Eli -- always have," Coughlin said. "He's extremely into the game. He's aware of all the circumstances and comes over to the sideline -- he relates what he sees ... to be honest with you, nothing like that has ever happened. His mind was in the right place here but he didn't have all the facts right and unfortunately we didn't get it corrected."

So Manning temporarily believed that he could run out the clock before realizing that the Cowboys had an extra timeout. And then Coughlin bizarrely compounded the problem by calling a low percentage throw on third down that stopped the clock again.

Even if the Cowboys were out of timeouts, the Giants could have only run the clock down to roughly 30 seconds left before kicking a field goal. Leading by 10 points looks like a far better bet. 

Manning also regretted how he executed the Giants' final third-down play.

"I've got to do a better job understanding that if they're not wide open ... that I got to take a sack," Manning said. "I have to be smarter in that scenario."

This is the type of panicked, mismanaged decision making that would put lesser coaches squarely on the hot seat. Imagine if Jay Gruden or Joe Philbin managed the end of the game so poorly. Coughlin said that the decision will "stick with me" for a while. The additional details from Jennings help explain why Coughlin -- and Eli -- were filled with so much regret.

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