When an NFL team scores 49 points in a single game, that team expects to win. Sunday afternoon in New Orleans was no exception for the Giants, especially after they took a 49-42 lead midway through the fourth quarter on a Trumaine McBride fumble return touchdown. However, the Saints quickly turned the tables, first tying the game on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to C.J. Spiller, and then winning it on a Kai Forbath 50-yard field goal that followed a Giants special teams snafu.
In a game that saw New York surrender 52 points and 505 passing yards, the only silver linings can be found on offense. That includes the performance of quarterback Eli Manning, who was followed up back-to-back mediocre performances against Philadelphia and Dallas with one of the best outings of his career on Sunday. Manning completed 73 percent of his passes for 350 yards and a whopping six touchdown passes, three of which were thrown to Odell Beckham Jr.
"No," stated Manning. "I think we’re going to play in some close games and we’ve just got to find ways to get better. Just have great preparation for the next team we’re playing and just find ways to win. However way it comes up, you never know in this game which way it’s going to be. It’s going to be a high score and a low score or what plays or what series is going to make the difference. You’re giving yourself an opportunity to win and so we’ve just got to take advantage of those situations. We’re still in a good spot in the division and got a good bit of football left to play and all we can worry about is getting ready for Tampa this week and going down there and trying to play our best football."
In fact, Manning only failed to throw for a touchdown on five New York possessions all afternoon, but one of those came when the Giants had a chance to drive for the winning score. Instead of leading his team to a dramatic victory like he did against San Francisco three weeks ago, Manning misfired on third down, which led to the punt that sealed New York’s fate.
Still, Manning was the MVP of the Giants on Sunday. Without his heroic performance, fans would likely have been subjected to an embarrassing blowout. It wasn’t easy to keep pace with Saints signal caller Drew Brees, who became only the eighth player in history to throw for seven touchdowns in an NFL game.
Manning had to settle for just six scores, but that was enough to pass Joe Montana for 10th place on the all-time list with 276 touchdown passes. The Big Blue quarterback also moved past Kerry Collins into 11th place on the all-time completions leaderboard.
Even though their defense has struggled lately, the Giants won’t lose many more games in which Manning plays as well as he did in his hometown of New Orleans. And there could be more great Manning performances ahead based on how he is doing this year. After setting a career high in 2014 with a completion percentage of 63, he has completed 66 percent of passes in 2015 and is on pace for more touchdowns and fewer interceptions than last year.
"That’s just football," noted Manning. "Somedays the offense, everything is clicking; somedays, the defense is clicking. It’s a team and we’ve got to help each other out. We knew we were going against a good offense in the Saints, they’re going to be high-powered at home, they’re going to score some points—that’s just the way it’s going to be. We knew we were going to have to be productive offensively. As good as we were, we could have been better, we left some plays out there on the field and some possessions where we had three and outs and could have been even more productive, even as well as we did play."
Despite suffering losses in two of their last three games, the Giants remain in first place in the NFC East… for now. Unless the defense shapes up in a hurry, Manning will likely be the difference between Big Blue making the playoffs and sitting at home in January.