The Giants' comeback, 31-27 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday did not come without controversy.
The Giants trailed the Cardinals, 27-24, and were driving with a little more than three minutes left in the game when, depending on which side you favor, it was either a fumble or the correct call.
In the ensuing sequence, a scrambling Eli Manning found one of his new favorite targets, Victor Cruz, for a first down.
Cruz had room to run after he caught the ball around the Cardinals' 34-yard line. An Arizona defender tried a weak arm tackle, but it wasn't even clear if he touched Cruz, who kept running.
When he got to the 30-yard line, he fell down without explanation between two Cardinals defenders. He got up and left the ball, which led the Cardinals to pounce on it.
They thought they had recovered the ball on a play of stupidity by Cruz. The officials thought differently. They ruled that Cruz had given himself up and blew the play dead. Since the play was whistled dead, the Cardinals could not challenge the call.
On the next play, the Giants won the game. Manning found Hakeem Nicks for the go-ahead, and eventual winning, touchdown.
The NFL rulebook states that a runner can declare himself down and the play dead by falling to the ground, or kneeling, and making no effort to advance.
This is where we find the gray area. And it's all judgment on the part of the officiating crew as to when and how Cruz declared himself down.
We can dissect this call all we want, but the opinions that matter most come from the parties involved. And many of those parties, even on the Giants' side, thought the call was a lucky one.
We got a break on that one, Manning said.
Crazy, Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes said.
The Star-Ledger (N.J.) reported that the NFL's vice president of officiating, Carl Johnson, thought officials made the right call. But former head of officiating, Mike Pereira, said on Twitter that in his opinion, it should have been ruled a fumble.
As for Cruz, his explanation does not seem to hint that he was giving himself up. Rather, he believed he was touched by the first Cardinals defender.
I saw the guy coming and I wanted to get down, Cruz told reporters after the game. I thought I was tagged down, and I got up and was going to the next play. I thought I was touched, so the ref called it down. I felt like I was touched. I thought somebody touched me.
Watch the video for yourself below, as well as a similar situation that went against the Giants last season. What do you think?