The Giants will be retiring Eli Manning’s No. 10 jersey this Sunday. Let’s look back at the top 10 moments of his career.
“Back to throw, under pressure, avoids the rush and he’s gonna…fight out of it…still fights out of it, now throws it deep downfield, wide open Tyree who, makes the catch, at the 23-yard line. What a play by Manning.”
Giants play-by-play radio announcer Bob Papa howled these infamous lines the night of Feb. 3, 2008; the night of the Giants’ Super Bowl 42 victory; the night Eli Manning took that massive leap in what was just the fourth year of his career.
It changed Eli’s reputation — he was no longer just Peyton’s younger brother.
After many more touchdown passes, fourth-quarter comebacks, and a second Super Bowl title, Eli’s No. 10 jersey will be hung in the rafters Sunday afternoon — no Giant will ever wear it again.
The edge-of-your-seat moments are what made Eli Manning’s Giants career what it was — not perfect, but pretty damn memorable.
And boy were there a ton of those edge-of-your-seat moments…
10. 2015 Week 5 Win over 49ers
It was vintage Eli in what was his 12th season in the league.
The veteran quarterback put together a miraculous final drive against the 49ers when down 27-23 late in the fourth quarter. It was an eight-play, 82-yard possession capped off by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Eli to tight end Larry Donnell with 21 seconds remaining.
The Giants emerged victorious by a final score of 30-27, and although it was four seasons removed from the memorable Super Bowl 46-winning campaign, Eli proved he could still bring it in the waning minutes of a game.
9. 2012 510-Yard Performance vs. Buccaneers
It was Week 2 of the 2012 season when Eli Manning strung together a 510-yard game against the Buccaneers. Not only was it a career-high for the longtime quarterback, but the total was also the second-highest single-game mark in the history of the franchise (Phil Simms threw for 513 yards during a 1985 game).
The Giants were down 27-16 entering the fourth quarter of that matchup, but two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Manning and a whopping 25 fourth-quarter points from Big Blue led to a wild 41-34 win for New York.
8. 2004 Week 17 Win over Cowboys
It was the final game of Eli’s rookie season — he had not earned a victory as a professional starter yet…until that day.
Manning constructed a game-winning final drive — something he would go on to do many times during his long and storied career — and defeated the Cowboys 28-24 at the conclusion of the 2004 campaign.
Eli threw for 144 yards and three touchdowns in his inaugural win as a starter, but it was a quote from another Giants legend, former co-owner and the late Wellington Mara, that made that day so memorable.
“It was the last game my father ever saw,’’ co-owner John Mara said during Manning’s January 2020 retirement ceremony, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “And I can remember walking to the locker room with him afterwards and him saying to me, ‘I think we found our guy.’ And how right he was.”
7. 2005 Week 7 Win over Broncos
The aforementioned win over the Cowboys in 2004 commenced the fourth-quarter comebacks, and Eli further proved his clutch trait in a win over Denver the following year.
With ten seconds remaining in regulation and the Giants down 23-17, Manning backpedaled…and backpedaled…and backpedaled some more with the Broncos pass rush approaching.
What seemed like 10 minutes later, the then-second-year quarterback threw a strike to legendary Giants receiver Amani Toomer in the end zone to tie the game with five seconds remaining.
The ensuing extra point from Jay Feely gave the Giants the lead and sealed the deal.
6. January 2012 Divisional Round Win over Packers
The Giants were a 9-7 team who needed two big wins late in the season just to advance to the NFC Playoffs.
There’s no way they were going to defeat a Packers team that was 15-1 in the regular season and the top team in the league that year, right?
In shocking fashion, Eli and the Giants blew the Packers out by a score of 37-20 at Lambeau Field. Manning continued what was another great playoff run en route to a Super Bowl title, throwing for 330 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.
The win was nearly four years following another playoff win in Green Bay…
5. January 2008 NFC Championship Win over Packers
Giants-Packers NFC Championship Game.
Jan. 20, 2008.
Negative-one degree, negative-23 wind chill.
Tom Coughlin’s face as red as a solo cup.
But Eli Manning didn’t let anything bother him.
Manning threw for 251 yards in the win and notched, at the time, the biggest victory of his career on the Frozen Tundra.
Of course, Lawrence Tynes’ game-winning 47-yard field goal in overtime played a key factor as well.
4. 2011 Week 14 Win over Cowboys
Before the Giants defeated the Jets and Cowboys in Weeks 16 and 17 to close out the 2011 regular season as the winners of the NFC East, New York went into Dallas for a Sunday Night Football matchup in Week 14.
And late in that game, an Eli interception thrown to Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee was followed by a 50-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant. Thanks to the ensuing extra point, Dallas extended its lead to 12 with just 5:41 remaining in regulation.
Many thought the game was over. Since the Giants needed to desperately win that matchup en route to a potential playoff berth, many thought the season was over as well.
But Eli had different plans.
Manning constructed an 80-yard drive that concluded with an eight-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jake Ballard. The subsequent extra point cut the lead to five.
Then, following a big defensive stop, Eli and the Giants drove down the field and capped off a 53-yard drive with a one-yard Brandon Jacobs touchdown run. The successful two-point conversion from running back D.J Ware then put the Giants up by three.
We all know how that game ended…
Up 37-34, Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul blocked a game-tying field-goal attempt with just one second remaining.
Manning’s subsequent kneel down solidified the crucial victory.
3. 2019 Final Start and Win over Dolphins
“This sport has very few real farewells, but as the clock wound down in our win against the Dolphins this season, I ran to my favorite place in the stadium: the tunnel,” Eli said at his January 2020 retirement ceremony. “I waved to our loyal fans, and then [my wife] Abby and my kids ran out to meet me.
“That was my farewell, and a moment I’ll cherish forever.”
It was one of the final games of the 2019 season. Then-rookie Daniel Jones was the starting quarterback for much of that year. But amid a two-game stretch late in the season in which Jones was out with an ankle sprain, Eli started the final games of his career against the Eagles and Dolphins.
In front of the MetLife Stadium crowd, one final time, Manning threw for 283 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 36-20 victory, and exited the field with tears in his eyes.
I’m sure he wasn’t the only one emotional that day.
2. Super Bowl 46 Win over Patriots
We have entered the Super Bowl portion of this list.
It was Feb. 5, 2012; it was Eli’s second Super Bowl MVP; it was the team’s second title in four years.
And again, it was against New England.
They say you can’t write the story of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady without including Eli Manning — and boy are they right.
From the early touchdown pass to Victor Cruz to the sensational strike to Mario Manningham down the left sideline to the overall final drive that concluded with an awkward Ahmad Bradshaw touchdown run (he tried to stop at the one-yard line but couldn’t), this game is remembered for a multitude of reasons.
But the main thing people recall from this Super Bowl was that Eli did it once again, and surely made a case for why he deserves a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
1. Super Bowl 42 Win over Patriots
Some may say it’s the greatest upset of all time.
A young Eli Manning and a Wild Card Giants team that was 10-6 in the regular season faced the undefeated Patriots. New England, that season, was led by MVP quarterback Tom Brady along with Randy Moss, who broke the single-season touchdown-catch record (23).
And the improbable occurred.
The Giants defense was miraculous and Tom Coughlin outcoached Bill Belichick, but the aspects of that game we remember involve Eli.
The avoided sack by Manning and helmet catch by David Tyree; the shotgun fade to Plaxico Burress for the go-ahead score; the entire final drive to eventually win on the biggest stage of the sport.
Like I mentioned earlier, this win changed Eli’s reputation. He was no longer just the inferior younger brother of Peyton Manning.
He became a New York/New Jersey legend that day, and it’s remained that way ever since.
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