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On the Final Play of the Buccaneers vs. Giants NFL Game, 16 Sept. 2012

by Adam Liszkiewicz

In this clip, the New York Giants are preparing to execute a kneel-down play, to end their game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The kneel-down is a long-standing football tactic: when the offensive team is winning, the defending team has no time-outs remaining, and the game is almost over (i.e. approx. a minute remaining on the game clock), the offensive team's quarterback will receive the snap from the center and then kneel down, ending the play but not stopping the clock. In this manner, the offense hopes to run out the remaining time on the game clock and win the game. This was the Giants' intent, in this situation. The kneel-down tactic is so commonplace that everyone--fans, players, coaches--expect it to happen. But, as is often the case with games, such (cultural) expectations can create the potential for surprise via alternative tactics. In this case, as the Giants prepare to execute the kneel-down play, the Buccaneers obviously ready themselves for an all-out rush toward the quarterback, in an attempt to cause the quarterback to fumble; this would have allow the defenders a chance to recover the ball, and potentially score a game-winning touchdown. The defense's tactic was ultimately unsuccessful here, but it did cause the Giants' quarterback, Eli Manning, to stumble backward and fall, and also resulted in a pile-up of offensive and defensive players at the line of scrimmage. Perhaps more importantly, the play prompted a heated debate among NFL players, coaches, commentators, and fans around the ethics of the play, which lasted for several days after the game. One side of the debate argued that the play was unethical, because it exposed players to unnecessary risk; the defensive tactic was so unlikely to succeed that it was functionally an empty, theatrical gesture, and so it violated an "unwritten rule" to theatrically accept impending defeat with class. The other side of the debate--and this was the more populous side--argued that, in football, players should play as hard as they can until the very last second, regardless of the likelihood of success; football is a sport, and you play to win. In violating the expectations of the surrounding culture, this play prompted a serious debate about the nature of football as a sport, and its role in American culture. What values should football espouse, reflect, and reject? What does it mean to play fair, in this case?

Final Play of Buccaneers vs. Giants NFL Game, 16 Sept. 2012

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This is the final play of a National Football League (NFL) game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Giants, which occurred on 16 September 2012.

from Tampa Bay gives "cheapshot" to Eli Manning at end of game kneel down 09/16 (2012)
Creator: AOTSNEWS YouTube user created this clip from the original Fox Sports television broadcast
Distributor: It is not readily available from the creator; it is only accessible through YouTube and ESPN clips
Posted by Adam Liszkiewicz