Usually when Eli Manning is at the top of his game, the Giants come out on top, but that wasn’t the case in Sunday’s 52-49 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Manning completed 30 of his 41 passes, threw for 350 yards, and set a career high with six touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough to overcome New York’s opponent. Saints quarterback Drew Brees was just a little bit better with 505 yards and seven scoring strikes.
“That’s just football,” said 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.”
As incredible as the Giants offense was on Sunday, it still punted five times and turned the ball over on a Will Tye third-quarter fumble. On the most important possession of the game, Manning had a chance to break a 49-49 tie and lead the Giants to victory, but the team could only gain five yards on three plays and opted to punt back to the Saints.
“Took a shot to Rueben, just missed him off his fingertips,” said Manning, “Next play, they were dropping everybody out a little bit, threw a little check down, which is fine. Third down just had Dwayne [Harris] open on the left and I definitely could have thrown a better ball, but had an opportunity to hit him. I don’t think they did anything to really confuse us, had opportunities on every play to get a completion and get some positive yardage.”
Those missed connections proved to be costly, as a 24-yard punt return by Marcus Murphy coupled with a penalty on punter Brad Wing for grabbing the facemask set up New Orleans in field goal range.
The Saints won the game on the next play when Kai Forbath split the uprights on a 50-yard field goal attempt. Despite the disappointing nature of the loss, there are a lot of positives for the Giants to take away from the offense’s performance.
“I thought we protected well, the offensive line played well,” said Manning, “Thought we had a good down and distance, had some good play action, receivers were winning their one-on-ones. When the number one wasn’t open, had time to get to my second receiver or check down. I think it was a lot of first and second down production and we also had a lot of opportunities.”
This week in Tampa, Manning and the offense might need to play even better if the defense doesn’t improve versus the Buccaneers.