Momma said there'd be days like these

After the Eagles had clinched the NFC East with five games to spare, Tom Coughlin was asked if he was certain whom his quarterback would be going forward. Without hesitating, Coughlin said, "Right now Eli is the starting quarterback."

Perhaps Coughlin was still too emotional from the beating his club took, its fourth loss in a row. Perhaps we're also reading into the words "right now" a little too much. But he was given the chance to say that Manning would be the man for the rest of the season, and he didn't.

That's because Manning was flat-out awful against the Eagles. Everyone knew the chosen one would have his ups and downs, suffer his bumps and bruises. But never in anyone's wildest imagination could what happened last Sunday actually occur. Manning completed only six passes all game - eight if you count his two interceptions. He completed more passes to the Eagles than his starting wideouts combined.

"It wasn't a good performance," Coughlin said of his young QB. "The two interceptions, one with the possibility of scoring some points, and the other one…they were definitely setbacks."

Bad enough that Coughlin can't be certain that Manning will remain under center the rest of the season. While the master plan is obviously to get Manning as much work as possible before next season hits, it can't come at the expense of the entire organization, as a repeat performance of the Philly disaster clearly would.

In all fairness, Manning didn't exactly have time to set up shop all that often as the blitzing Eagles battered the Giants offensive line, which was coming off a one-week reprieve after not getting killed by the Falcons, all game long.

"A lot of them he is fighting for his life and throwing the ball away," Coughlin added. "But I didn't think the protection was very good and I didn't think we reacted very well to their pressure.

"He didn't have many opportunities to set and throw."

But when he did, he didn't appear to know what he was doing all that often.

"I didn't play well today, but I think every time I get out there I am learning," Manning said. "I think I just have to keep learning."

It appears that Manning might have a lot more to learn than Coughlin hoped when he made the Manning-for-Kurt Warner move.

The biggest mistake of Manning's afternoon came when he tossed a short pass to Jeremy Shockey that was picked off in the end zone by Quintin Mikell.

The Giants were only trailing by a point and were trying to benefit from their first takeaway in three weeks. Manning's 52-yard hookup with fellow rookie Jamaar Taylor had the fans in a frenzy. On first-and-goal from the Eagles 3, Manning very well could have cost his club the game. His toss to Shockey didn't have a high enough trajectory on it, stripping the Giants of their final legitimate chance to knock off the NFC East champion Eagles.

"I just threw a bad ball," Manning said. "I didn't get it high enough. I didn't give him a chance where either he's going to catch it or no one is going to catch it. I threw it inside, didn't get enough height on it and that's just something I can't do."

"I don't think it was thrown very well," Coughlin concurred. "That whole issue there is if you do have the height advantage that we have (6-5/5-10), the ball needs to be thrown high. If you're not going to catch it, then Shockey has got to knock the ball down and not let them catch it. I didn't think there was much of a chance of that. The ball didn't seem to be up in the air very high. I know he was trying to throw it to the back pylon, but it didn't seem to have the trajectory that was necessary."

Tiki Barber was visibly upset after the play, not surprising considering he had to like his chances to get into the end zone from the 3.

"I was disappointed because that's a golden opportunity," he said. "We get a quick strike and the ball's down on the 3-yard line with three plays to do something and get ourselves the lead, at that point. And we turn it over right then; that was a big momentum shift in their favor."

The problem with that play was that just about everyone in the building knew it was coming.

'Obviously it was a big momentum change," Shockey said. "It just seems like every time I line up out there, they know what's coming.

"As soon as we snapped the ball, the guy ran right to the corner of the end zone."

Mikell stated after the game that he knew from New York's formation that the call was for a corner fade to Shockey.

It's all part of the learning process for Manning. It's just a little troubling that he's capable of playing as poorly as he did. Much was made of Manning's debut, where he was basically given more credit than his 45.1 QB rating deserved. This week, the only Manning questions will be regarding whether or not the Giants should have sat tight at number four and taken Big Ben Roethlisberger, who continues to win every start for the Steelers.

Momma might've said there'd be days like these, but even Momma had to be surprised at just how bad New York's future franchise quarterback was against Philly.

"I still have a long way to go," Manning admitted afterward.

No kidding.


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