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'Smash' was the play


Tom Coughlin defended his late-game strategy and cited a scoreboard replay that showed the point of the football to have struck the ground on the final play of the game.

"There was a shot on the big board and the point of the ball was clearly on the ground," Coughlin said of Browns wide receiver Quincy Morgan's game-winning touchdown catch in Cleveland's 21-20 win at Alltel Stadium Sunday. "Apparently, the TV replay didn't have that one shot."

Morgan made a leaping catch of a Tim Couch 50-yard pass with no time remaining on the clock. As Morgan fell to the ground, the ball appeared to move down the side of his body. The replay review system could not overturn the catch.

The Browns were left to cover 50 yards in one play, and Coughlin told reporters at his noon press conference today he was satisfied with that circumstance as a result of two strategic decisions: to kick a field goal with 56 seconds to play and increase the Jaguars' lead to 20-14, and to order a "smash" kickoff that resulted in the Browns returning the kickoff to their 47-yard line.

"Believe me, that was the way to play," Coughlin said of the "smash" kick. Coughlin said kicker Danny Boyd's line-drive kick would've been more effective had it been aimed at a wider gap in the Browns' front line on the right side of the field.

"The unfortunate truth of the matter is it comes down to one play and you've got to make that play," Coughlin said.

He accepted blame for the outcome: "The blame's on me … because that's where it should go." But safety Marlon McCree was apparently out of position on the final play and had drifted too far toward the middle of the field to have been able to help Fernando Bryant in his coverage of Morgan.

"Marlon came toward the middle because the inside receiver came across. Marlon's role is to be out by the numbers," Coughlin said. "Marlon could've been over the top and could've been involved in knocking the ball down."

Instead, Bryant was left to battle with a receiver who is four inches taller and 40 pounds heavier.

Coughlin stood tall in answering reporters' questions today, even when those questions addressed the subject of Coughlin's future with the team. He was cooperative and humble throughout the press conference.

When informed that yesterday's attendance (46,267) is the second-smallest in Jaguars history, Coughlin said: "I don't understand it, but it's very unfortunate."

Asked about criticism from TV broadcasters Don Criqui and Steve Tasker, Coughlin graciously added: "I know how to get us real close. If we were a turnover team, these games wouldn't even be close."

And when a reporter used the words "save your job" during a question, Coughlin interrupted the reporter by saying: "I'm going to coach as hard as I can coach."

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