Exciting finish for G-men

The atmosphere was dark and cold as the Giants trailed the AFC West-leading Broncos, 23-17, in the waning minutes of what appeared to be a second consecutive loss. And if this were the 2004 Giants, it may well have been a loss. However, this was far from last year's 6-10 squad. And Eli Manning was far from last year's rookie QB.

That's because the darker the sky grew, the better the Giants began to play. For the second straight week, when it counted the most, Manning played his best.

Undaunted by the task at hand; unafraid of the dark skies or the Denver defense, Manning looked every bit the player New York knew he would be when they traded for him on draft day two years ago. In fact, at times during the last drive he looked more like Roger Staubach out there.

But, Manning is fashioning his own NFL legend. Call him Captain Cool, bursting with poise, as he engineered a 15-play, 83-yard drive that spanned 3 minutes and 24 seconds (there was only 3:29 remaining when the Giants took the field for their final offensive drive) as New York snatched a 24-23 victory from a very good Broncos team.

"(Eli) gets in these situations, and he fights his way out of them," said a happy Tom Coughlin afterward. "He hasn't even had 16 games under his belt. But, he keeps his cool, and fights his way out.

"He comes over to the sidelines and he has the most poise of anyone."

And, if yesterday is any indication, the best is yet to come for Captain Cool and his Cardiac Kids.

But, before the 4-2 Giants welcome the 4-2 Redskins straight off a 52-17 drubbing of the San Francisco 49ers into Giants Stadium, it's worth another look to examine the final drive against the Broncos.

New York got the ball back on its own 17-yard-line with 3:29 left to play. The drive began with Tiki Barber dropping a pass that would have given the Giants both a first down and a clock-stoppage. Manning was unfazed. He then completed back-to-back six-yard passes to Plaxico Burress, the latter producing a first down following a spectacular scrambling effort by Manning.

"I dropped back, then rolled out and spun back around – I knew I had guys out there running some routes," Manning said. "Plaxico did a great job of getting open and getting the first down.

Still, the best was yet to come.

On a first-and-10 from the Giants 29, Manning found Amani Toomer for 7 more as the two-minute warning arrived. On the next play, Barber burst up the middle for six yards and a first down. Now, with just 1:45 remaining, on a first down from their own 42, Manning found Barber for nine yards.

He was like a trained surgeon at work as New York inched into Denver territory. Totally cool, and totally in control.

"Every one of our guys really believes that we're going to be in position to win," Coughlin said, "and that Eli's going to get them the ball."

Manning converted another first down with a five-yard out to Amani Toomer. Now with only 1:01 left, Manning hit Toomer again, this time for nine yards. Timeout, New York, with only 51 ticks remaining.

After Barber scampered for three yards and another first down at the Denver 32, Manning fired incompletions to both Burress and Tim Carter. The latter was a catchable pass in the end zone that Carter simply dropped. Now Captain Cool faced a third-and-10 with just 27 ticks remaining. No worries.

Manning fired a 24-yard bullet to Jeremy Shockey, the tight end's first catch of the second half. Now on a first-and-goal from the Denver 8 with just 21 seconds to go, Manning misfired to Toomer. He followed that up with a six-yard screen pass to Barber to the 2-yard-line. Timeout, New York, with only 10 ticks remaining.

It was third-and-goal from the two, when Manning decided to throw a pass in traffic to the greatest Giants' receiver of all-time. Toomer lunged for the ball. Touchdown Giants.

"It was some kind of finish," Coughlin smiled. "(Eli) put the ball exactly where he felt Amani could get it, and no one else could."

"Today I think (Eli) had some adversity," Toomer said. "He made some throws, and I think he overcame it. And, that's all you can ask from a young quarterback. He hasn't even played a full season."

"I would say it's the biggest play of my pro career," said Manning of his game-winning TD to Toomer.

Still, the best is yet to come for Captain Cool and his Cardiac Kids.

The Giants Beat Top Stories