Shaun Wane admits Wigan Warriors "got out of jail" after a dramatic 30-22 win against 12-man Hull FC which propelled them to third in the Super League table.
Warriors trailed 22-20 going into the last five minutes and looked to be heading to a defeat which would have all-but crushed their top-four hopes.
But a rapid-fire double by Anthony Gelling and John Bateman - in the final three minutes - snatched a victory which saw them leap Hull FC in the table with two games to go.
Wane said: "I didn't like how we played, compared to last week (in a 26-16 win at St Helens). In patches we were good, but we just weren't consistent enough. We got out of jail a bit.
"Hull reacted better to the sending-off, and all of a sudden, the ruck was slow - it was like being in Catalans. I think the first half was 54 minutes. They wanted a long game, lots of stoppages, and that's what they got.
"It was just very slow, cumbersome game, and we couldn't get any tempo, which is what they wanted."
Prop Liam Watts was sent off midway through the first half, referee Robert Hicks ruling he had led with the elbow into a tackle by Micky McIlorum, who played no further part.
Wigan had an 8-6 advantage by that stage, and were 20-4 ahead in the 50th minute after tries by Anthony Gelling and Tom Davies - but they faded as Hull edged into a two-point lead and set up a nerve-shredding finish.
Wane felt the red-card was justified. "It's hard for him not to show a red card, but I don't think Liam Watts is a nasty player, there was no malice in it," he said.
Counterpart Lee Radford disagreed, and blamed McIlorum's poor tackle technique.
"I think Liam Watts is carrying the ball around his torso, a defender has his head on the wrong side of the tackle," he said.
Despite his disappointment, Wane was pleased to get the two points.
"We've gone eight out of 10, we're doing some good things - but it was nowhere near the performance of last week," said Wane, who picked out Sean O'Loughlin for praise. "But I'll be all right tomorrow."
He said Joe Burgess, who withdrew before the game, and McIlorum should be fit for next Sunday's final home match against Castleford.
Radford added: "It looked like watching a dog die for periods of that game. But some blokes came up with some special plays and got us back into it.
"Wigan are the best team in the comp' with their short kicking game, and the back-to-back sets took its toll."