The comparisons between second-year New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his older brother Peyton Manning are becoming more frequent and more legitimate, which could be bad news for the Vikings on Sunday. Even the mannerisms are starting to look the same.
Not so slowly, Giants quarterback Eli Manning
is reaching new and higher stops on the way to what appears to be shaping up as a star-studded career.
He won his first road game Sunday in San Francisco. He is now 6-2 for the season, his first as a starter, and he is only in his second season overall.
He was the NFL's first overall draft pick last year and was subsequently traded to the Giants on draft day when the Chargers became convinced he meant what he said about not wanting to play in San Diego.
He cost the Giants a king's ransom, in NFL currency, and the fans were outraged. Now it seems he is going to be remembered as a massive bargain, perhaps rivaling the purchase of Manhattan from the Indians for $24 worth of costume jewelry.
"This was the first road game win of my career, and the first for our team this season," he said after the 24-6 trouncing of the 49ers. "So this was an important one. It was big. We struggled early, penalties killed us and put us in two third-and-long situations, and you can't convert those against a good team like the 49ers. But regardless, I would have liked to be more consistent today."
Consistency is defined in several ways. Perhaps a quarterback who took a team from which nothing much was expected and turned it into a 6-2 record (with one of the losses a 16-13 overtime defeat) is consistency enough for most people. But apparently Eli, like his brother, would rather be flawless, and it is his brother, Peyton, against whom he is being compared more and more often these days.
"You know, he makes all those motions with his arms while calling signals," says defensive end Michael Strahan
, a smile on his face. "It looks just like what Peyton does. He is getting to even play the game the same way. I guess that Manning Quarterback Camp (run by Eli, Peyton and their father, Archie) is paying off."
Someone asked Strahan if all the hand signals and the waving of the arms is mostly decoy, planned confusion. He just smiled. "Ask Peyton," he said.
The Giants have not allowed a touchdown in nine quarters, not since the third quarter of their 24-23 victory against Denver three weeks ago. "We are playing smarter defense," said MLB Antonio Pierce, still visibly upset when the Giants' game with San Diego (a 45-24 throttling) is mentioned. "I would love to do that one over again," he said.
The Giants return home to face the Minnesota Vikings, the first of back-to-back home games. The second will be against arch-rival Philadelphia in an NFC East showdown. "We will not allow ourselves to even think about any other game," says FS Brent Alexander. "The next game on our schedule is the only important one."
SS Shaun Williams played into the second quarter (as a reserve) and then had to leave with a re-pulled hamstring. He had missed three games with the same injury and now appears to be looking at another enforced layoff.
WLB Nick Greisen left in the third quarter with bruised ribs but returned in the fourth quarter. He finished with two tackles plus a special teams tackle and has claimed the job for his own with the placement of Barrett Green on injured reserve.
SLB Carlos Emmons missed his second straight game with a partially torn right pectoral muscle. He was replaced — again — by Reggie Torbor, who had seven tackles (co-leader with Pierce) and a pair of special teams tackles.
Both WR Plaxico Burress and TE Jeremy Shockey made circus catches of Eli Manning passes. Burress reached over 49er CB Bruce Thornton for a 50-yard completion to the S.F. 12, and five plays later, early in the fourth quarter, rookie RB Brandon Jacobs scored the first of his two 1-yard TDs. Shockey's was a diving, tumbling catch at the end of the second quarter that resulted in a 32-yard TD, a play that had to survive a challenge registered by S.F. head coach Mike Nolan.
RB Brandon Jacobs now has five TDs in just 26 carries, as the 6-4, 265-pound rookie is obviously becoming the third-and-short specialist. "Whatever they want me to do, I'll do," he said, when asked if he wanted more game time carries.