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Upon Further Review: Play calling in Red Zone


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Most of the Giants today had the unpleasant task of dissecting their difficult 16-10 loss yesterday to the San Francisco 49ers. But Eli Manning didn't wait that long.


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> Watch Giants vs. 49ers Highlights
> Postgame Notes and Stats

"I watched it last night," Manning said. "Watched the film and looked at all of the plays and tried to learn from that. See why certain things didn't happen. Sometimes you don't always see it exactly how you thought you saw it on certain plays. Try to learn from it. It is hard to put it behind you. Kind of wake up and you start thinking about it at night when you are trying to sleep. Plays you wish you had back or opportunities you wish you had."

Manning manned up and studied each of his career high-tying five interceptions. But what Tom Coughlin and he focused their attention on was the four-down sequence from San Francisco's four-yard line late in the fourth quarter. The Giants trailed by six points when Odell Beckham Jr.'s acrobatic catch with 5:04 left put them in a position to pull out the game.

"I thought when (Beckham) made that spectacular catch, I figured this is going to be great," Coughlin said. "We are going to win one of those nail biters."

But it was not to be. Manning threw a pass to the right for Beckham and fade passes to the left for Rueben Randle and Larry Donnell that fell incomplete. His fourth-down pass for Preston Parker was tipped by one rookie (Dontae Johnson) and grabbed by another (Chris Borland) for Manning's fifth interception.

"Down there, you look for your one-on-one matchups," Manning said. "We had one-on-one with Larry Donnell on a safety, we like that matchup. We had Rueben Randle one-on-one. We are very, very close to converting on those. It is not like we had four plays with no chance. I've got to throw better balls on it, the receivers have got to try and make the play and another reminder of how close we were. I thought the plays, we got what we wanted. We tried to move guys around and create a matchup that we liked, we got the matchup we liked. We just didn't convert on it."

Coughlin, who called a timeout before third down, said adjustments were made on the fly.

"We had to change the first play," Coughlin said. "There was a run called and we couldn't continue to keep the run on, because of the number of people that were in the box with a three-wide receiver set and one back running scheme. We did leave that play. Then later there was another opportunity to go to a run, but (Manning) felt good about the matchup that he had. Let's face it, we were ranked in the top ten in the green zone all year long. It had been one of the things we had done really well. We had thrown the ball to, whether it be Larry Donnell or Rueben or whatever, we had done that any number of times, including training camp and including preseason. We felt good about those opportunities. In fact, after looking at the tape, I think two of those balls should have been caught (the passes to Randle and Donnell)."

Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo calls the plays, but Coughlin said, "I have input on that. Not necessarily each one and not necessarily in the order that you might think. After the timeout is normally when I will have my say or in between series I will have my say."

Coughlin hinted that he thought safety Eric Reid should have been penalized for interfering with Donnell, but said, "That is no excuse. He had the ball. Bring it down."

Manning insisted he could have made better passes to Randle and Donnell.

"Just get it out there; just throw it out there a little bit more," Manning said. "(Donnell) likes to jump and kind of use his athletic ability to jump up and go get it. Still got to get it a little further out there, a little higher, so he can jump up and catch it and pull it away. I think the guy (Reid) got his hand in there as he was coming down and he got it out. It was a good play. Good play by the safety, but yeah, I can make a better throw."

Regarding the throw to Randle, Manning said, "It can still be better, I gave him a chance. Probably could have got it out there a little bit further toward the pylon, and gave him a chance to make it like….just couldn't quite get that other hand up to get two hands on it."

Coughlin and Manning have surely not reviewed that critical sequence for the last time.

"The ball is on the four-yard line," Coughlin said. "You have a chance to win the game. Somebody make a play. Get the ball in the end zone and you win. I will remember that one."

20 photos that tell the story of Sunday's loss to the 49ers

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