Eli Manning of the New York Giants reacts after throwing...

Eli Manning of the New York Giants reacts after throwing his fourth interception of a game against the San Francisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Nov. 16, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

It was 10 years ago this week that the Giants passed the torch to rookie quarterback Eli Manning, a decision that led to some of the greatest moments in team history, including two Super Bowl victories and a slew of franchise passing records.

This was some way to celebrate an anniversary.

Manning was in position -- repeatedly -- to give the Giants their first win in more than a month and breathe some life into a season that grows more desperate by the week. But time after time -- after time after time after time -- he threw the ball to the wrong team. There were five interceptions in all against the 49ers, matching his total in a meltdown last December at home against the eventual Super Bowl champion Seahawks.

That was near the end of Manning's worst season, after which team owner John Mara described the offense as "broken." It led to offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride's retirement and Ben McAdoo's hiring.

The move looked like a good one for Manning, who before Sunday had cut down on his interceptions with remarkable effectiveness, going from a career-high 27 in 2013 to a mere six in his first nine games this season.

But in the 10th game of the season, on the 10th anniversary of his first starting assignment, No. 10 blew up in stunning fashion.

On a day when the Giants' defense rebounded from its worst performance of the season and kept giving Manning every opportunity to pull this game out, he threw each opportunity into the hands of 49ers defenders in the Giants' 16-10 loss.

"I didn't expect it. I didn't plan on it. I've got to do better," Manning said afterward, looking composed as he fell on his sword for all the lost chances. "Better decisions. Better throws. are all on me. No one else's fault. I have to protect the ball and can't afford to turn it over, especially a couple of times in field-goal range."

Incredibly, the Giants were within a score right to the very end, thanks to a combination of defensive excellence that was absent the week before and the inability of the 49ers' erratic offense to capitalize on the mistakes. The 49ers converted the five turnovers into only three points, which continually gave Manning more chances. And he continually gave them back.

After looking sharp in leading the Giants to a touchdown on their opening possession for the first time in 21 games, Manning went into a funk from which he never emerged.

There was an errant throw to Odell Beckham Jr. that was picked off by linebacker Chris Borland in the second quarter. A pass intended for Rueben Randle that Manning couldn't pull back in time that was intercepted by linebacker Michael Wilhoite later in the quarter.

A third-quarter pass deep down the left side, intended for Randle, that instead was caught by safety Eric Reid. An early fourth-quarter pass for Randle that was picked off by cornerback Chris Culliver.

And finally, after a 37-yard pass to Beckham gave the Giants a first-and-goal at the 4, a fourth-down pass near the goal line intended for Preston Parker that Borland intercepted. This after three straight incompletions on fade routes to Beckham, Randle and tight end Larry Donnell.

Even then, Manning still thought he had a chance.

"I was hoping the defense could get us a stop, get us the ball," he said. "Thinking about how this is going to be an ugly but a great win if we could get the ball back and get a score."

Not this time. The Giants did get the ball back, but at their own 15 with 1:09 to play and with no timeouts left, there was no miracle comeback.

Ten years and two Super Bowl MVP trophies after Tom Coughlin made Manning his starter, there still are days like this. The Coughlin-Manning partnership has been a mostly fruitful one and has given fans some of the most riveting moments of the last decade. But with a fifth straight loss, a 3-7 record and questions about whether Coughlin's run might be done after the season, Manning couldn't summon another magical moment to delay what might be an inevitable breakup.

At 33, Manning still is young enough and good enough to continue his run with the Giants -- warts and all. You don't overreact to a game like this, especially after Manning had shown legitimate improvement from last season . . . until now.

The Giants' playoff hopes are gone, realistically if not mathematically. All that remains to be seen are what changes Mara will make once the season ends. And for now, all Manning can do is keep slinging it.

"You can't get gun-shy," he said. "You can't force it into crowds and make bad decisions. I've got to be better at it and make better decisions and more accurate throws."

Happy anniversary.