Schott: Eli Looking Elite As Giants Take Over NFC East

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

Eli Manning had a performance on Sunday against San Francisco that was one of the best in his career, leading them on a game-winning drive in the final minute.

On Wednesday, he was given NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Manning threw for 441 yards and completed 41 of 54 passes with three touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 110.2 in the Giants’ 30-27 win. The 41 completions Manning had on Sunday night are a Giants franchise record, breaking the mark set by Phil Simms, who had 40 completions on October 13, 1985 in Cincinnati. His final pass was the 12-yarder to tight end Larry Donnell,who made an acrobatic play to catch it, for the game-winning touchdown with only 21 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. This capped an eight-play, 82-yard drive after the 49ers had taken a 27-23 lead with 1:45 left.

For Manning, who is in his 12th season, it was the 27th time he has led the Giants from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie to a victory in a regular-season game. He also has done it five moretimes in the postseason, including twice in Super Bowls.

Manning said of the comebacks after the game on Sunday night, “Well, there were a couple in the Super Bowl, obviously (laughs). This one was special just because we hadn’t been as good in the two-minute drives as we once were and we should, come in there and had great confidence and we would ride down and win a lot of games that way. We had one early versus Atlanta, we didn’t make the plays, had a couple games we had leads in the fourth quarter and we lost it and it was a big confidence for this offense, for this team that we can win that way. Hey, we can get the ball back, we can drive right down. I’ve got the confident we could do it but sometimes you need that reinforcement, you need to do it, you need to have that success and get that attitude, get that feeling. It’s big for this team. It was a big win today. It was special.”

Manning has thrown for 1,417 yards and 10 touchdowns, with a 100.2 passer rating in the Giants’ five games this season.

This is his best start to a season, and Manning said of what is working best for him, “I think the entire offense, all of the players have a better understanding and a better feel for this offense than we did last year. We’re protecting the football, we’re not turning the ball over much, we’re staying in good down and distance, we’re getting much more positive yards, we’re not taking sacks, and we’re not having runs for negative yards. Guys are playing fast and making plays and so we have to keep doing that. We have to keep finding completions and finding positive yards, staying in good down and distance, and convert on third down.”

Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin said of what’s different with Manning now compared to the past, “I don’t know what’s different. I don’t know what you’re talking about. For years and years and years he’s been literally the best-prepared guy that I’ve ever been around. He works very, very hard, he’s very serious about his game, he’s an outstanding leader, the players like him, the players listen to him. We’ve had some opportunities, we’ve had some very, very close games. He was able to make some plays down the stretch the other day to win it, which was very exciting, obviously playing at home, for our fans. In my opinion, he just keeps getting better.”

Manning has thrown just two interceptions this season, and he said of what’s gone into reducing the interception total, “I think just trying to make smart decisions. I think just having a good feel for the offense, knowing where the ball is going, and being able to get to your second and third reads if you have to. We’ve had leads, a lot of it is you’re not behind trying to force things and make plays because you feel you have to get something going, or you’re trying to get the ball downfield and get chunks. We’ve been in good situations in games, you don’t have to force things to try and get back into it, and just being smart. I think our offensive line has done a good job protecting so you don’t have a lot of throws where I’m getting hit or trying to throw it before the play has time to develop, and we’ve been in good position to play smart.”

Coughlin said of Manning cutting down on interceptions, “That’s a point of emphasis for Eli and for our team. He’s done a really good job at that. We’ve had a couple. They’ve been things that we probably could’ve avoided, but in this game, throwing the ball as many times as we’ve thrown it, he’s done an excellent job at taking care of the ball.”

One difference in the Giants’ offense the past couple of years has been that it has gotten a boost having one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, Odell Beckham, Jr. Manning said of having Beckham to throw to, “I think it’s good to have good players around you. He’s a good kid, he’s a good player, he works really hard, he wants to be really good, so it’s fun having that enthusiasm and the way practices and plays the game, that effort on the team is contagious. It transfers over to other players and they see the way that he conducts his business and the way he plays hard and practices hard. I think having him, obviously you have to use your opportunities to get him the ball and have him make plays and also if teams want to focus on him, it opens opportunities for other guys to make plays for us.”

The Giants are in the top spot of the NFC East with a record of 3-2 and there’s no reason not to think they can win this division, even running away with it. They are clearly better than Dallas, Philadelphia, and Washington.

The next two weeks should show that, as the Giants go into Philadelphia to take on the Eagles on Monday Night Football an then host Dallas on the 25th.

Manning said of having big games against the Eagles at night and kind of being used to dealing with the atmosphere that you get coming here at this point, “Well, you know what to expect. It’s going to be loud, they’re going to be fired up and yeah primetime on Monday night and it should be a great atmosphere. We have a couple of new guys who may have been in this atmosphere last year. I think guys experienced it so it’s good just knowing that’s it’s going to be loud and our communication has to be great. We have to be good with our snap count, everybody on the same page, and getting in and out the huddle quickly, just because it will be loud. We will get some interesting looks on defense and we have to make sure we’re all on the same page.”





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