Eli Manning catches a break: Football-free week welcomed by Giants QB

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning walks off

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning walks off the field in the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals. (Nov. 11, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Eli is outta here.

The Giants quarterback who is known for his attention to microscopic details, devouring game tape and extra time on the practice field is leaving all of that behind while the Giants have a bye. Heading out of town, he said. The next time he picks up a football will be in six days when the team returns for practice. The next time he calls up some images of defenses likely will be the same day.

"Coach Coughlin has given us this time off, so take advantage of that," Manning said. "I think it's a time where I'm going to try to catch up on some rest and sleep and being around my family a little bit and really just try to take some time off and put it away so that when we do come back, I'll be ready to go."

What he's leaving behind is a streak of play that is reminiscent of his rookie year, when his wobbly fawn legs could barely keep him upright in the NFL. There have been questions about his arm strength, his decision-making and his reads. He has gone three games without a touchdown pass, his longest streak since his first year in the league. The Giants have lost two straight.

Just don't tell Manning that the sky is falling.

"We've lost two in a row," he said. "There are a lot of teams in the NFL this year who have lost two games in a row . . . We're not going down, we're not sliding. Hey, you know, that's just football and just as easily we can bounce out of that."

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As for his play, Manning said he has no lack of confidence in his abilities to get back on track. He'll rely, he said, on recognizing that even at his darkest hours as an NFL player, those woeful rookie starts, he improved.

"Early on I was able to come out of it and play well," he said. "It's just part of being an athlete that you draw on all your past successes . . . You get to these positions because of reasons. You have talent, you have ability, you're able to overcome tough circumstances. Hey, we're in a circumstance, and we're going to fight through it."

Tom Coughlin said he sees "signs that he's improving. He's getting back on track. There were some signs there that were good [Sunday] and we've just got to build on it."

There were also some things that were not good. Like his two interceptions, both thrown while under duress in instances where it would have been wise to take a sack. Coughlin even called them "foolish" decisions.

"Football is a crazy game," Manning said. "It's tough, it's hard. Sometimes as a player you forget that because some games you go out there and you're catching every break and even plays where guys shouldn't get open the defense is making a mistake and you're hitting it and everything is kind of going your way. Then all of a sudden that can flip-flop real quick. All of a sudden defenses are playing things really well, you're not catching breaks, and everything it seems like 'How are we going to get a first down? How are we going to be able to score points this week?' "

That's how Manning leaves things for his brief respite from football. When he returns, the same issues will be there. "We can fix it," he said. "It's all going to come down to how we play these next six games. That's all that matters. What's happened these past weeks, it's over."

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