In some ways, Sunday night’s game against Dallas was Eli Manning’s best performance of the season. The two-time Super Bowl MVP had his second-highest completion percentage and passing yardage total this year and threw for three touchdown passes, all while once again getting little help from a poor running game.
Unfortunately for Manning, playing anything less than perfect for this Giants team will almost certainly mean a loss against a quality opponent, and that was the case versus Dallas. With a first and ten inside the Dallas twenty yard-line midway through the third quarter, Manning overthrew a wide-open Preston Parker over the middle and Dallas safety Barry Church was on the end of it, taking the interception to midfield. Dallas would take the lead four plays later, completing at the least a ten-point swing in the Cowboys’ favor.
“[I] just threw it high,” Manning said of the interception. “[Preson Parker] was a little flatter than I anticipated and just kind of… no excuse though, you’ve got a guy running open, I’ve got to hit him right in the numbers.”
At 3-8 and losers of six straight, the Giants have little to play for and seem to have more questions than answers when looking toward the future, with the long-term status unknown for prominent members of the coaching staff and a number of free agents highlighted by Antrel Rolle and Jason Pierre-Paul. One thing that does look certain however is that the Giants have found a star in rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and have plenty to look forward to when he and a healthy Victor Cruz are working in tandem in 2015.
“It’s fun to work with him,” Manning said of Beckham. “It’s fun to practice with him. He’s a good kid and he works hard and he wants to be good. He’s doing all the right things, which you like to see from a young player. Obviously he’s very explosive and has a lot of playmaking ability. A guy with a lot of speed, sometimes they don’t always run great routes, but he’s a great route runner and disciplined.”
Beckham stole the show and the hearts of Giants fans with a touchdown catch that is causing the same jaw-dropping stir that another certain Eli Manning pass had earned in Super Bowl XLII. Manning joked that he threw both passes “just bad enough” to make a spectacular grab possible, but was anything but kidding when showing his admiration for the talented rookie’s play.
“[The catch was] pretty spectacular.” Manning said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t get a win and have the catch but it’s an unbelievable catch and great play by him and concentration and going up with one hand and snagging that. He’s a playmaker, he makes a lot of big plays for us. Hopefully it will continue.”
Both Manning and Beckham have acknowledged that the wins are more important than the highlights, but as the schedule lightens up the Manning-Beckham combination may start earning some wins to go with the big plays already on display.