One week after throwing a career-high four interceptions against Minnesota on Nov. 13, Manning rebounded and responded with a three-touchdown, no-pick day against the Eagles a week later. The rapid improvement is exactly what head coach Tom Coughlin expected.
"I never questioned that he would bounce back," Coughlin said. "I really didn't. Part of the problem in the game the week before was due to the fact that we threw the ball too much. I don't think there was enough threat of the run. Sometimes, even though the run doesn't look like it's making a lot of yardage, it certainly is serving its purpose in terms of the ability to go ahead and utilize the play-action pass. I thought we got away from it the week before to the point where there was no one respecting the play-action pass."
With New York's added emphasis on the run, things basically returned to normal as Big Blue dealt the Birds a crushing blow.
"It was an intended goal that we would bring those numbers back a little bit more into the way we want to play," Coughlin said. "And I did not hesitate to think that Eli would have a good football game based on that."
Manning has also proven the ability to rebound not only week-to-week, but during the course of games as well. On multiple occasions already this season, he's stumbled out of the gate, but had the offense firing on all cylinders by the end of the contest. Most notably, the overtime loss in Dallas, huge comeback victory over the Broncos as well as strong fourth-quarter finishes to put away the Niners and Eagles come to mind.
Coughlin says it's all a product of Manning gaining more confidence and experience as the game unfolds.
"It's cumulative," he said. "The National Football League is cumulative and he learns from the first snap on and he gets a great feel for the opposition and it shows up more in the fourth quarter than anytime else. That's what you want."
Coughlin obviously appreciates his QB's ability to hang tough and then produce when the game's on the line.
"I'm happy he does, okay," Coughlin said. "I think part of the situation the way it works is that we have played three quarters and he has a really good feel for what the opponent is doing. He knows that the situation is on the line, perhaps that you have two or three more drives in the game and that's it. It has to be – the production has to be at that point in time and I think he uses the knowledge of the first three quarters in that situation. Fortunately, we've been relatively successful there."
The ego-less Manning said he couldn't have pulled out his fourth-quarter magic without his teammates.
"Once we get into the fourth quarter we realize that we have to step it up and it is the whole team," he said. "The offensive line is making blocks and protecting well. Receivers are getting open and making plays. I would like to say we are going to play like that every quarter. Sometimes in the fourth quarter when everything is on the line our guys are stepping up and making plays so that is a good thing."
Manning said, as a quarterback, he's had to step up in the clutch ever since he started playing ball.
"I have always thought about it in a way from being in college," he recalled of his days at Ole Miss. "In college, Coach always said try to get the game into the fourth quarter and that is where you are going to win or lose it. As a quarterback you like having the ball, you like being in control so obviously there is some truth to that. Obviously in the NFL you would like to be up by enough in the fourth quarter that it doesn't matter but that is not always the case. A lot of times it is going to come down to there and that is where you have to make the plays. Whoever makes the plays or the mistakes is going to win or lose the game."
Manning also spoke of feeling the increased pressure each week as the season nears its stretch run.
"As you get later in the season, the games become more important and they become a bigger deal," he said. "You know where you are standing in the division in the conference so you know they are important. (Seattle was) a big game for us, but all of the games from here on out are big games for us. That is why you play in this game. When you are playing well you are going to play big games. That is when the pressure comes in, and that is when you have to play well."
As far as his team's somewhat surprising rise to NFC contender status, Manning said his troops haven't accomplished anything yet.
"I didn't know what to expect of this season," he admitted. "I said I was going to come in and do my best and try to win games and for the most part we have been doing that. We still have a long season left. We still have a lot of divisional games left. We have a long road ahead of us."
Eli Extra Point: Heading into the Seattle contest, Eli Manning had thrown at least one touchdown pass in 11 consecutive games, which was the longest current streak in the NFL. Against Philly on Nov. 20, he passed Phil Simms (twice) and Charlie Conerly and now has the second-longest streak in Giants history. Y.A. Tittle holds the team record with touchdown passes in 15 consecutive games from 1962-64.
Coughlin pleased with Manning's rebounding
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