Brandon Wade
September 14, 2015

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Eli Manning is taking the blame for two late blunders that led to the New York Giants' collapse against the Dallas Cowboys, including one where he told halfback Rashad Jennings not to score.

The bottom line though is that there is plenty of blame to go around.

Coach Tom Coughlin accepted it again on Monday. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo can have some, too, and so can defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, whose group gave up touchdowns on Dallas' final two drives in a 27-26 loss on Sunday night.

Manning was the focus of the blame Monday.

After losing track of Dallas' timeouts, the 12-year veteran says - on his own - he told Jennings not to score on two consecutive plays when the Giants had a first down at the Cowboys 4-yard line with 1:54 to play, and 23-20 lead.

''I thought that they may let us score to get the ball back, so that's why I informed Rashad if they let you score, just go down at the one-inch line. Don't score,'' Manning said. ''He still ran hard, we got two yards on first down and second down, third down that was my-it's still my mistake. That did not come from the sideline.''

Manning believed Dallas had one timeout remaining when it had two. The problem was Manning didn't realize Dallas did not use a time out with 1:54 when the Giants declined a penalty after a first-down pass to Odell Beckham Jr.

In the final five minutes, NFL rules mandate that the game clock starts on the snap after all out of bounds plays and after all penalty enforcements. That allowed Dallas to use its final two time outs after runs of 2 and 1-yard by Jennings.

To compound the problem, Manning threw the ball away and stopped the clock against on a third-down pass. He should have taken a sack and milked the clock.

Manning talked to the offense Monday and acknowledged the mistakes.

''Really the third-down decision is what bothers me more than anything,'' he said. ''I think not making the better decision right there and taking that sack. That would've made a bigger difference than anything.''

Coughlin said he was unaware that Manning told Jennings not to score. He wanted a touchdown.

''That's all I ever wanted-was to get back to the 10 point lead,'' Coughlin said. ''Dallas has had success driving the ball late in the game against us for a couple years, and scoring late touchdowns to defeat us. By going up 10, that would not have been an issue.''

There were other problems. Before the third-down pass play call, none of the coaches told Manning to take a sack if the play was not open.

''I've got to be smarter in that scenario and understand that the clock is the most important thing there and that we weren't going to go for it on fourth down,'' Manning said. ''So that's bad management of the game in that scenario and understanding how important the clock was right there.''

Josh Brown's field goal gave the Giants a 26-20 lead with 1:34 left, but Tony Romo drove the Cowboys to a winning touchdown with seven seconds left.

The loss was a brutal one for a team that was looking for a big start after missing the playoffs the last three seasons.

''It hurts but it's supposed to hurt when you play your tails off and you work hard and you do a lot of good things and don't come out on top, it hurts,'' Manning said.

Defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins said the loss was one of the most devastating of his 12-year career, noting teammates and coaches tried to pick him up Monday. He added former Giant Michael Strahan talked to the team and that helped.

''You go out there and you fight, we fight as hard as we did, and we put ourselves in position, and we just couldn't close it out and finish it,'' Jenkins said.

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