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Herm Edwards supports Schiano's attempt at Miracle in the Meadowlands II vs. Giants



Herm Edwards knows about miraculous finishes to games in the Meadowlands.

The former Jets and Chiefs head coach was part of arguably the most improbable victory in NFL history while playing cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1978. With his team trailing 17-12 and only seconds remaining, Edwards scooped up a botched handoff from Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik to Larry Csonka and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown.

So Edwards was not surprised to see Bucs coach Greg Schiano attempt to create his own Miracle in the Meadowlands Sunday against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

Trailing by a touchdown with five seconds remaining, no timeouts and the ball on the Giants 30-yard line, Schiano ordered his defense in a bunch formation to try and strip the ball from Eli Manning.

The play, in which Manning was knocked to the ground but handled the snap to end the game, drew a strong rebuke from Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who confronted Schiano after the game. Manning called it a cheap shot.

Edwards says Schiano’s decision was the right one, so long as the Bucs were only one score behind.

“I think there’s no wrong answer,’’ Edwards said Monday. “It’s just common sense with coaches and players. Look at the clock, know what the score is, and players know if there’s enough time on the clock and it’s a one score game, you’ve got to know these guys are probably going to fire off so we’ve got to get ready, boys. This thing isn’t over yet. I get that part.

“But when you’re a couple scores down and there’s 20 seconds left on the clock, you’re not winning that game. So be careful, because if you start doing that, somebody may want to pay you back. The coach doesn’t get paid back, it’s the players. If someone takes out your starting right guard and you’re up two scores with five seconds left, it’s not good.’’

While Edwards fumble recovery came during a botched handoff, the Eagles defense had a hand in the play-calling. Two plays before the Pisarcik fumble, the Giants attempted to kneel down and begin to kill the clock. But the Eagles, coached by Dick Vermeil, were taught to play every down.

After the defense surged on the Giants, they decided to call a couple running plays to the middle of the field.

“Our situation in ’78 was this: The Giants actually ran a play and then they turned around the next play and kneeled on it,’’ Edwards said. “A skirmish occurred. We kind of knocked the center over, knocked Joe Piscarsik over.’’

According to Edwards, a week earlier Piscarsik had refused to run a play sent in late during the game form the Eagles’ offensive coordinator. 

“Once the skirmish started, when they kneeled on the ball, they get back in the huddle, they run another running play,’’ Edwards said. “It goes for about five (yards). Now, the clock is going down to 26 seconds. They call a play in and say, “Now we’re going to run it again.’ Guys in the huddle are saying, “There’s no need to run it again. We’re under 30 seconds. We’re going to kneel on the ball.’ Joe is arguing, ‘coach said run it.’ Joe is still reflecting on what happened to him last week.

(Fullback Doug) Kotar comes to the line of scrimmage. I’m actually talking to Kotar. He thinks they’re kneeling. I shake his hand before the play even started. (Jim) Clack comes to center, he’s looking at the 40-second clock and Joe is looking back at Clark like we’re going to run the play. Clack is nervous because the 40-second clock is running down and he hikes the ball before Joe is ready. I watch the snap. Joe gets the ball, the timing of the run is off, Csonka comes through the line, it hits off his hip and I’m going if I can get this ball off the bounce I can score.’’

After the Miracle in the Meadowlands, teams developed the ‘victory formation,’ where helpless to stop the clock, they place a defensive back or receiver behind the center in case there is a fumble.

Edwards said the unfortunate thing about Sunday’s game against the Giants is that the kneel down debate has overshadowed what otherwise was a terrific game.

“This was a very emotional game,’’ Edwards said. “This has kind of become bigger than the game and it should’ve become that when the two coaches are head coaches. It’s one of those deals, maybe Tom could’ve handled it better. You call him the next day. But now it’s out there and we’re going to talk about it, we’re going to make it an issue.

“I don’t think there’s a wrong answer, but this is the answer. You talk about player safety. Don’t jeopardize players when you don’t have to.’’

That’s the key to Edwards. If the Bucs try this while trailing two scores with seconds remaining, then he’s not on board.

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