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Eli Manning critical of Giants' performance vs. Eagles

Eli Manning pulls off his helmet during warmups

Eli Manning pulls off his helmet during warmups before a game against the Chicago Bears. (Oct. 10, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

Eli Manning has been on this roller coaster before, so he knows where the dips are. He knows when it's OK to throw your hands in the air and enjoy the ride and when it's time to grab the safety bar.

He seems to be trying to impart that wisdom to teammates, many of whom are only now learning about the jostling ups and downs of life in the NFL.

The Giants seemed to be coasting after three straight wins, three strong performances on offense and, perhaps most importantly, three straight games of improvement from the offensive line. Maybe all of that success was a little too much for them.

"It's a good reminder," Manning said after the Giants' 27-0 loss to the Eagles on Sunday night. "You can't just show up on the field and have things go well for you automatically. You have to earn it."

Manning didn't single out any particular group, but the "lesson" part of it might indicate that the offensive line -- which has a rookie and a second-year player in key starting roles -- is the one he wants to learn the most.

Their performance throughout this season has demonstrated one very glaring reality for the new offense: When the line blocks, it works well, but when it doesn't, it is non-functioning.

Tackle Justin Pugh, who said he played the worst game of his life and had few arguments, allowed Connor Barwin to play like J.J. Watt. And Pugh didn't even let J.J. Watt play like J.J. Watt.

Manning said he didn't think last week's practices were bad. He said he thought the Giants were prepared. Basically, they just didn't bring all of that with them to Philadelphia.

Another captain delivered a similar message to Manning's.

"You can't sugarcoat it," Antrel Rolle said. "They came out hungry and we didn't and it showed. It showed on the field . . . In this league, you can't take days off. You can't take them off. We took today off. Everyone."

That's a fairly typical emotional response from Rolle. What made Manning's remarks atypical was that they came from Manning. They might occur routinely behind closed doors, but he's usually the last one to call out teammates publicly the way he did in suggesting they might have been a little too comfortable on the roller coaster.

"It's just a matter of we got outplayed, we got outperformed and we got out-physicaled," Manning said in one of the harshest postgame analyses he's ever delivered. "They made more plays than we did. We have to get back to having a great week of practice and get our focus back to what we have to do to get better."

After 10 years, maybe it's time he said so with such force. Publicly, at least.

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