Eli Does Makeshift Just Fine

The big worry heading into the Jacksonville game was whether the offense could produce while missing key players. Eli Manning proved they could, thanks to some simplification and perserverance.

Eli Manning put the Giants back into a first-place NFC East tie with Philadelphia by handling an undermanned staff and making plays when needed.

And he said Monday that it wasn't all that hard.

A little adjusting, a little simplification, a little common sense.

"It wasn't a change in the offense," Manning said the day after he, Mario Manningham, Brandon Jacobs, and Kevin Boss put together the winning drive after a game of offensive struggles. "It's really just kind of getting down the stuff that we really knew. We didn't do as much three wide receiver stuff as we might do in a normal game if everybody was healthy.

"We kept it to more tight end, two-receiver, two-back stuff or two tight ends, two-receiver, one-back and just running plays that we normally run, we just stayed in our base personnel a little bit more than normal. We did a little bit more of that on third down – two tight ends on third down and just having the guys in there who have been here for a couple of years who know the offense and we feel comfortable with what we were doing.

"We ran the ball a little bit better than we have in the past, we hit some big plays with our play action to the tight end, so that was good. I think we just didn't do quite as much and it helped us execute a little bit better."

Manning, who finished a selective 14-of-24 for 226 yards and two TDs, said tailoring the offense was a matter of keeping whatever playmakers the Giants did have at their disposal on the field. Boss, especially, came in handy despite having made a major drop and a holding call that took Manningham's touchdown catch off the board. Boss caught only three passes, but they all came in the fourth quarter as the Giants clawed their way back from deficits of 17-9 and 20-17.

The fact is that they did it all without their top wide receivers, Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks, and with a fill-in left tackle in Will Beatty.

"It's not that you're simplifying things," he said. "You're just not changing personnel quite as much. You're putting your best players on the field and that's what you want.

"We do three wides because we figure that we have three really talented receivers and want to get those guys on the field as much as possible. All of the sudden you're short receivers, so let's get Travis Beckum on the field more, let's see Kevin Boss – put him in a situation to win for us. You kind of want your guys that present the best matchups against a defense and that's what we did and I think that's just being smart and you've got to give yourself the best chance for success. I'm more comfortable with these guys than a guy that has been here for five days and so that's just putting us in the best position to run our offense."

It certainly helped that the Giants did not turn the ball over. And that the offensive line, as makeshift as it was, kept all pass rushers off Manning for a fourth straight sackless game.

With Smith hoping to come back this week against Washington, things could be looking up for the offense. For now, it's just enough that Manning and the few players left that he's comfortable with were able to make the key plays and save the 7-4 Giants' season.

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