For Manning, the numbers don't lie

Say what you will about how Eli Manning has played as New York readied to face off with Kansas City. But one thing no one can question is that Manning continues to post some gaudy stats, the type that would have a less-critical fan and media base gushing about. Through the first 13 games of the 2005 campaign, Manning was third in the NFL with 460 passes, fourth with 21 touchdown passes and sixth with 3,128 passing yards.

But there are two stats preventing Manning from moving up in the league quarterback ratings – his 52.6 completion percentage was 32nd among NFL quarterbacks with enough passes to be listed in the league rankings; so were his 15 interceptions.

Coach Tom Coughlin and Manning offered different reasons behind Manning's uneven stat line, which, considering the fact that he's started just 20 NFL games is not terribly surprising.

"He has from time-to-time lapsed into some old habits as far as some of his throwing mechanics," Coughlin said. "And we just continue to work at that. He is very well aware of it. He works hard at it during the week.

"We have always worked on fundamentals from the first spring that he was here. There are some things, which, mechanically, we try to improve upon after we look at the tape every game. Some of it has to do with pressure when people are at his feet. That is a continuing process for us."

Manning has repeatedly been asked about mechanics in his weekly meeting with reporters. He refused to pin that as the cause of his late-game troubles against the Eagles, when he was intercepted three times after the third quarter.

"My mechanics were okay," he said. "Obviously, I had some bad plays where it wasn't all mechanics. It was bad decisions, falling away and throwing it and you can't do that in this league, and throwing it up and floating things. Guys are too fast and you can't get away with that. So I just have to get in the pocket, keep my feet square, don't back up, and keep moving forward so if I can find a lane or get a throw off, I can get some power on it and make better decisions."

Although unhappy about the three late turnovers, Manning was generally positive in his self-evaluation of the Philadelphia game.

"I thought for the most part that I played a pretty good game," he said. "Just the last couple minutes – the first interception is the one that really bothered me. It was a bad decision at that critical point when you're down, you don't need to turn the ball over right there. The next one was just a bad throw. I thought my read was good and decision-wise, I made good decisions all game where to go with the ball. It's just a matter of taking a few throws away and it would have been a pretty good game and that's the difference. You can't have some mental breakdowns. You can't have bad plays in this league."

Another frequent line of questioning for Manning concerns his confidence. Every time the subject comes up, Manning insists his confidence is good. He said he must concentrate on his fundamentals – footwork, stepping up in the pocket, throwing with power.

"I feel, physically, I should make all the throws and that comes with confidence," Manning said. "I'm going to keep working on my mechanics. It's something you never stop working on."

While critics focus on Manning's failures, Coughlin steadfastly recites his quarterback's virtues.

"The mental part of the game he does extremely well," Coughlin said. "He controls and manages the game very well. For a young quarterback he recognizes the tips – all of the tips that he is given – he gets you into the right protection 95 percent of the time. If you give him enough time, he will get you into the right protection. He adjusts all of the schemes. He does all of those things."

It is crystal clear that Coughlin retains full faith in Manning to lead the Giants to the postseason. He demonstrated that when he aggressively answered a question as to why Manning has thrown so many passes this season.

"We are trying to move the ball and score," Coughlin said. "We are not sitting there handing the ball off. We are looking for balance; we are going to keep balance. Put the ball in the kid's hands. The kid has the ability to win games. If the ball goes in his hands and everybody believes in him, go win the game."

Red zone woes

One of the main problems for Manning – and the entire offense, of late – has been the inefficiency in the red zone.

"Well, that's something we're going to continue to work on," Manning said. "We have to stop the penalties in the red zone. When we've gotten in there, that's a killer when you have the ball on the two-yard line and all of a sudden you get a five-yard penalty. It's those mistakes that can make a difference. So, we have to be able to fix that and it's just a matter of making some plays in there and getting some touchdowns instead of field goals."

Manning said it's really just of matter of his offense having the mindset and will to score the ball.

"We feel that we need to put the ball in the end zone," he said. "Especially last week, we did a great job of moving the ball up and down the field and we got inside the 10 (yard line) I think three times and got field goals every time. We had some penalties, some mistakes, and sometimes that's going to happen, but we have to get more touchdowns than what we have. We can't settle for field goals."

By the numbers

Prior to the Chiefs contest, Manning's record as the Giants' starting quarterback was 10-10. He started the season with a 1-6 record.

Against Philly, Manning threw for 312 yards, the third-highest total of his brief career. All of his 300-yard games have been on the road. He passed for 352 yards at San Diego and 344 yards at Seattle. The Giants were 1-2 in Manning's 300-yard games.

Manning scored the Giants' second touchdown against the Eagles on a one-yard quarterback sneak. It was the first touchdown run of Manning's career.


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