Risky gamble by Ron Rivera fails in final :36; no regrets
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — While it failed to provide Washington with a win, few are second-guessing Ron Rivera’s gutsy decision to go for a potentially winning 2-point conversion in the final minute Sunday.
Rivera wasn’t. His players weren’t, and even New York Giants coach Joe Judge expected the 58-year-old cancer survivor to go for a victory after seeing his new team lose four straight following a season-opening win.
“It’ll eat at me because we lost,” Rivera said shortly after the Giants held off Washington 20-19 Sunday to give Judge his first win as a head coach. “I want to win. I’m playing to win. I’m trying to get our players to understand this is how we’re going to do things.”
A former Chicago Bears linebacker and a member of their 1985 Super Bowl championship team, Rivera is old school. Winning is all that matters, especially with a franchise that has struggled for years and which he is charged with turning around.
“I don’t care this is my first year. I don’t care we have a group of young guys who have to learn,” Rivera said after Washington fell to 1-5. “We’re trying to teach them. We’re going to teach them. They’re going to learn how to win, and at the end of the day that’s what we’re here for.”
Rivera had to like the toughness of his team. After falling behind 20-13 following a 43-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Giants rookie linebacker Tae Crowder with less then 3 1/2 minutes to play, Washington tied the game on a 22-yard pass by Kyle Allen to Cam Sims with 36 seconds to play.
Riverboat Ron never hesitated to go for the W.
“Coach Rivera, he made it clear we were coming down here to win,” said Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller, who now has interceptions in three straight games. “Coach Rivera has a strong mindset. He always wants to be the attacker. We came to win and he made a choice to help us win the ballgame.”
As Washington went 75 yards in 10 plays, Judge was thinking Rivera would go for the win. He had gambled two other times in the game, converting fourth downs from the Giants 48 and the 40 in the first half.
Judge even noted defensive coordinator Pat Graham had put in a new play earlier this week to stop any 2-point conversion.
“Ron has always been aggressive as a head coach,” Judge said. “You are on the road a lot of times and that’s a decision you are going to make right there.”
Rivera said Allen had a couple of reads after the snap, but no one was open until late in the play, and by that time he had defenders in his face. His pass fell incomplete.
“We didn’t come to tie and we didn’t come here to lose,” said Allen, who threw for 280 yards and two TDs. “We came to win. That’s his mentality right now. The division is up for grabs. I wish we had won the game today. Ties, loss, it’s been his mentality. You want to win.”
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