Eli Manning, interception maven or Super Bowl stud?

Eli Manning has performed like two different quarterbacks

Eli Manning has performed like two different quarterbacks during his tenure with the Giants. Photo Credit: Getty Images collage

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After the 2010 season, in which he set a career high for passes picked off, Eli Manning famously declared that he is "not a 25-interception quarterback.''

Three years later, that's exactly what he's hoping to be. Because he already has 25 through 14 games. If he somehow can slam the brakes on the turnovers -- the Giants have had at least one in every game this season -- and land right on 25, well, it might actually be an accomplishment. A tiny one in a season full of big disappointments, but an accomplishment nonetheless. And the kind of step back toward Super Eli that Tom Coughlin spoke about this week.

"It's probably going to come in small gains,'' Coughlin said when asked if he thinks we'll ever see Elite Eli again, "but I believe it will come.''

The question is: Does the Giants' front office believe it? And how much are they willing to wager that it will?

Manning, who will turn 33 next month, has two years remaining on his contract, and if the Giants want to thin his cap numbers for those two seasons, they'll have to convince him to take a pay cut (sure!) or extend his deal to prorate the money over more years. Is a quarterback who has not made the playoffs in four of his five prime seasons worth investing in? Is a quarterback who has won two Super Bowl MVPs?

And which one is Manning, again?

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If Manning throws one more interception to set a team and personal high, his statistical chances of ever winning another championship are essentially zero, if history is a guide. Since the 1970 merger, there have been 16 quarterbacks with more than 25 interceptions in a season. Of those 16 (two of whom did it twice), four have won a Super Bowl ring. Well, that's not so bad. A quarter of them.

But only one won the title after the season in which he topped 25. That's Peyton Manning, who chucked 28 of them as a rookie in 1998 and won Super Bowl XLI eight years later. The others -- Joe Namath, Ken Stabler and Brett Favre -- won the championship before their pick-plagued seasons.

Manning said he's not lacking confidence that he can buck those odds.

"I feel I can go out there and play well and still throw the ball well and move this offense,'' he said. "Obviously, we have struggled offensively, but I'm not going to change my preparation or my thought process. I know that I can go out there and do my job well and get us a win.''

Giants teammates agree.

When asked if Eli is still an elite quarterback, Justin Tuck said: "Without a question, without a doubt whatsoever. Based on what I've seen, based on what I know about him. Yeah, he's having a down year, but he'll get the opportunity to rewrite all of that, and I fully expect him to do so.''

Of course, the last time Manning threw 25 interceptions, he won a Super Bowl the following season. And no quarterback on that over-25 list has two championships, as Manning does.

"I try not to get caught up with the number of interceptions,'' Manning said.

He and the Giants would much rather be counting titles than turnovers.

Notes & quotes:The Giants placed CB Corey Webster (ankle) on injured reserve Tuesday. Webster played in only four games this season and is not expected to return to the Giants next season . . . WR Julian Talley was signed from the practice squad to replace Webster on the 53-man roster. It's a sign that WR Victor Cruz (concussion, knee) might not be available in the final two games of the season . . . The Giants (5-9) can finish no better or no worse than third place in the NFC East, marking the 10th straight season they have eluded the division's basement.

The quarterbacks with more than 25 interceptions in a single NFL season since the 1970 merger:

Player INT Season Team
Vinny Testaverde 35 1988 Bucs
Fran Tarkenton 32 1978 Vikings
Richard Todd 30 1980 Jets
Ken Stabler 30 1978 Raiders
Brett Favre 29 2005 Packers
Lynn Dickey 29 1983 Packers
Peyton Manning 28 1998 Colts
Ken Stabler 28 1980 Oilers
Joe Namath 28 1975 Jets
Drew Bledsoe 27 1994 Patriots
Jim Zorn 27 1976 Seahawks
Jay Cutler 26 2009 Bears
Warren Moon 26 1986 Oilers
Tommy Kramer 26 1985 Vikings
Richard Todd 26 1983 Jets
Brian Sipe 26 1979 Browns
John Hadl 26 1972 Chargers
Dennis Shaw 26 1971 Bills

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