Eli Manning had just one incompletion in the New York Giants 38-35 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY—There are few things in life more satisfying than proving your doubters wrong. This is what Eli Manning has done in the last two games and as a result, the New York Giants have won back-to-back games for the first time in 23 months.
No player was more scrutinized more during the first half of the season than Manning, and some of it deserved. He would often settle for check downs rather than challenge defenses deep. There were also discussions about his arm strength and how he was unable to avoid the rush.
Some thought that following the bye week they should try to rookie Kyle Lauletta to see if he could potentially be Manning’s successor.
But instead of looking to the future, the Giants stuck with their 37-year-old quarterback and it has paid off.
On Sunday against the Buccaneers, Manning completed 17 out of 18 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns and had a quarterback rating of 155.8. The one incomplete pass he had Saquon Barkley almost came up with a miraculous catch down the left sideline.
In the Giants two-game winning streak, Manning has completed 36 out of 49 passes for 419 yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
— New York Giants (@Giants) November 18, 2018
That being said, the wins came against two teams that have a combined record of 5-15, and are in the bottom third in the league in pass defense. But winning in the NFL is never easy, and Manning’s play over the last two weeks shouldn’t be glossed over.
If you look at the Giants heading into the 2018 season objectively, you knew there would be growing pains early on since they had a new coaching staff and revamped offensive line that lost their center for the year Jon Halapio for the year in Week 2.
When you go through the number of changes the Giants went through, it can take weeks for everyone to get on the same page. Over the last two weeks, we have seen the offense begin to come together.
After Sunday’s win, Manning was asked what has been the difference with the team over the last two weeks.
“Just finding the rhythm, just kind of our identity. I think the offensive line has been playing really well the last couple of weeks. Just running the football, play actions have been really good for us. Getting the ball down the field, the protection has been good down the field. I think those combinations. We can run the football and play action. That first drive, run the football, get a first down, have a play action pass and hit Odell for a 40-yard gain. That was the start of it. All day, ran the ball well, play action was good and we scored in the red zone. That has been good for us the last couple of weeks.”
Prior to the Giants winning two games in a row, it was a foregone conclusion that Manning would not be in the Giants plans in 2019. But now there’s cause to pause in closing the book on Manning.
It unrealistic to think the Giants can do what Odell Beckham Jr. said what their goal is, and that’s to win their last eight games and make the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
But if the Giants finish 7-9 and Eli continues to play at the level he’s played over the last two weeks and the offense continues to show progress, then John Mara, Steve Tisch, and Dave Gettleman would be justified in bringing back Manning one more year.
Manning may not be the quarterback he used to be, but he’s shown he can still win games if his line gives his time and if the team is in a rhythm.
Manning and the Giants will now look to extend their winning streak to three when they take on the (4-6) Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.