"I asked him if he felt like he wasn't getting enough attention," the Giants' center said after the team's 27-16 victory over the Chiefs. "Obviously, you're always concerned about your quarterback. They're the most fragile guys on the team, so you have to make sure you take care of them."
A joke at a time like that – and in the postgame locker room – is a very good sign for an entire Giants team whose 2009 season flashed before its eyes when Manning hopped into the air and fell to the ground after dropping back and planting his right foot. Dan Marino, Vinny Testaverde and plenty of other quarterbacks have made similar moves on noncontact plays at the end of their drops, and the result has been the dreaded "A": Achilles.
The thought even flashed through Manning's mind.
"Anytime you feel a little pull or strain, especially down there, you get nervous," said Manning, who had a noticeable limp on his way to the locker room. "You don't know what it is. You kind of (worry) it's an Achilles or something, but it wasn't that. I kind of knew after a second it wasn't. I could stand up, I could still walk around, I could put some pressure on it. I was more relieved after that."
Asked directly if his "bruised heel" was an injury to the Achilles' tendon, Manning replied, "No, it's not."
Was the tendon damaged at all? Perhaps. It certainly looked like it was stretched. But the final diagnosis won't be known until some time passes.
"I don't think it's awful. I've been injured worse before," said Manning, who has made 82 straight starts, including the postseason, and played through a sprained shoulder in 2007. "We'll see how it feels throughout the week."
Manning's injury put a damper on what should have been a celebration for a team that swept a three-game road swing, becoming only the eighth of the last 108 to play three straight away from home to do so, and moved to 4-0 for the second straight season.
None of that would have mattered if Manning had been seriously injured. Tom Coughlin knows that, which is why he smiled and stared at a questioner when asked what he was thinking when Manning hit the turf.
"What was going through my mind?" Coughlin eventually replied. "Was he hurt? Did he get hurt? Did something take place out there I didn't see?"
Nothing other than Manning dropping back, faking a handoff to Ahmad Bradshaw and planting his right foot with the toe facing downfield. When he came off the field, the first pieces of tape were placed on the bottom of his foot, which appeared to be the affected area – not the back of the heel.
Manning didn't leave the sideline, but his game was over. At that point, it didn't matter because he had completed 20-of-34 passes for 292 yards, three touchdowns and one interception – his first since the season opener, snapping a streak of 79 straight passes without being picked off.
Manning can pin that one on Mario Manningham, in whom Manning might have a little less confidence after he dropped two passes and failed to come down with a third on a leaping attempt. But what Manningham lost, Steve Smith gained with a 3-yard touchdown on the opening drive (the fourth straight week the Giants have put points on the board in their opening possession), a 25-yard touchdown that made it 14-3 early in the second quarter and plenty of other grabs.
So many it made one wonder who was covering Smith.
"Sometimes they tried to cover me, but Eli does a great job of waiting until I'm open," Smith said, adding: "In the slot, they paid more attention to me, definitely. They tried to jam me and stuff. Eli does a great job of waiting for me to get off the press and get open."
Giants, Eli Optimistic About Foot Injury
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