Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants watches the...

Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants watches the game against the Buffalo Bills from the bench during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Oct. 4, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York. Credit: Getty Images / Tom Szczerbowski

Eli Manning's approach to his remarkable streak of NFL fortitude is simple and straightforward.

No superstitious pregame routines. No special mind exercises. No thoughts about it at all.

Truth be told, there really is no approach.

"No, that's not my mind-set," Manning said. "Just have a game the next week. Go play it."

And there you have the Philosophy of Eli, a no-frills, no-nonsense -- no-nothing -- attitude. It has carried him through 173 consecutive starts, the longest active streak by a quarterback. It's also third only to Brett Favre's 297-game streak with the Packers, Jets and Vikings, and big brother Peyton Manning's 208-game run with the Colts.

Eli's streak began on Nov. 21, 2004, shortly after Giants coach Tom Coughlin replaced Kurt Warner with the team's first-round rookie. And it continues Sunday against the Cowboys, a team that will start its third quarterback of the season when Matt Cassel takes over for Brandon Weeden, who had replaced the injured Tony Romo.

If there's a secret to his football longevity, Manning is unaware of it, other than to be grateful for his good health and to simply take the next game as it comes.

"I just prepare for a game, that's pretty much it," he said, smiling and shrugging. "Don't really think about it."

Given the fact that Manning touches the ball on every offensive play and is a target of the defensive players across the line of scrimmage, his streak is nothing short of astonishing. He has dropped back 5,835 times since being anointed the starter, completing 3,460 passes for 41,295 yards, 270 touchdown throws and 189 interceptions. He has been sacked 286 times during the streak and has been hit countless other times.

Oh, there are two Super Bowl MVP awards in there, too, and if you include postseason games, the streak is at 184 and counting.

"That's just amazing," Giants guard Justin Pugh said of Manning's streak. "The guy is as tough as they come. To play that many games in this league? That's an amazing accomplishment. I'm glad he's my quarterback."

Manning is far from perfect, though. He has had his share of clunkers through his career, including Monday night's 27-7 loss to the Eagles, a game in which he had two interceptions and a season-low 62.3 rating. But there has been way more good than bad, and the simple fact that he is available to play every game is a luxury few other teams possess.

Coach Tom Coughlin never takes it for granted.

"It's critical to us and our preparation and obviously over all these years that, even when he's injured, he's lined up and played," Coughlin said. "The stability of that and the ability to game plan knowing that he's in that position, that's a huge plus for our team and always has been."

There was only once during the course of a regular season when Manning's availability was in serious question. He suffered a shoulder injury in the first game of the 2007 season against the Cowboys, and reports swirled that he had a separated shoulder and could miss a month. But Manning played the following week against the Packers and wound up winning his first Super Bowl title after the regular season.

Manning also played through a foot problem he suffered early in the 2009 season, but a case of plantar fasciitis did not cause him to miss any games.

The streak actually would have ended in 2013 if not for the fact that Manning was hurt in the final game that year. He suffered a high ankle sprain against Washington, an injury that eventually required surgery.

So on it goes, a run that began nearly 11 years ago, just days after George W. Bush was elected to his second term as president. The Iraq War was in its 20th month. The stock market stood at 10,456 the day Manning got his first start. CBS News anchor Dan Rather announced that week that he would be stepping down from his post. Martha Stewart was serving time in a West Virginia jail for insider trading. The Nintendo DS was first released in North America. The Yankees had just become the first baseball team in major-league history to blow a three-games-to-none advantage in a postseason series.

And only five other quarterbacks still active today -- Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger -- were starters.

The quarterback turnover since then is staggering. Since Manning's streak began . . .

The Jets and Eagles have had 11 different starting quarterbacks.

Cassel will be the Cowboys' 10th different starter.

Washington has started 10 different passers.

The Bills have had 12 different starters and the Cardinals have had 13.

And in Cleveland, dubbed the NFL's "Factory of Sadness," there have been 19 different starting quarterbacks.

Manning certainly appreciates his good fortune, but he doesn't dwell on it. There's always another game to be played, and he's too preoccupied with his time-consuming preparation schedule. He's a voracious reader of game plans, immerses himself in game video study, physical conditioning and practice, and rarely indulges in contemplating his records. Including the consecutive-games streak.

But he does feel confident that there are some things that go into his mind-set that might lend themselves to staying in the lineup. He knows there are limits to his physical capabilities and accepts them within the context of any given game.

"You don't want to take unnecessary hits, so it's knowing your protections, doing your workouts in the offseason," he said. "And sometimes you have to know how to throw it and duck down so you're not just taking a 300-pounder right in the face. So you try to get used to those throws a little bit. You don't want to have to do them all the time, but sometimes they're necessary."

Other than that, there really isn't much more involved.

"You're just playing and not worried about it," he said.

Can't argue with the results, although he knows the streak will end someday. Manning only hopes it will be of his own choosing. In the meantime, there's another game today.

As usual, Manning will be playing.