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Eli Manning goes from throwing all over to run, run, run

Giants quarterback Eli Manning hands off to Orleans Darkwa

Giants quarterback Eli Manning hands off to Orleans Darkwa during a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Oct. 15, 2017 in Denver. Credit: Getty Images / Dustin Bradford

Eli Manning, who entered Week 6 with the most passing attempts in the league, threw only 19 times in Sunday’s 23-10 win against the Broncos.

“As a quarterback, it’s not the ideal way you want to play,” he admitted during his Monday radio spot on WFAN. “You want to throw it.”

Sorry, Eli, but this looks like it will be the new normal for the Giants. Not because it worked, although that certainly helped, but because it’s who they are right now. They adjusted well in their first game without Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard, but two of those three receivers are gone for the season and the other, Shepard, is still nursing a sprained ankle that probably will keep him out until after the bye in Week 8.

In other words, those days of launching 40 passes and trying to light up an opponent are pretty much over.

Manning knows it, too.

“It fit our style at the moment,” he said of the change in philosophy from trying to get the ball in the hands of playmaking receivers to grinding out yardage on the ground with two tight-end sets. “We were short on receivers, we had some new guys in there, we were going to keep running it and keep battering it. Just get in that world.”

The 19 attempts were Manning’s fewest in a full regular-season game since he threw 15 against the Bills in miserable weather at Buffalo on Dec. 23, 2007. Manning’s 11 completions were the fewest he’s had in a full game since he had 10 against Pittsburgh on Nov. 4, 2012.

Perhaps most telling of this new way of doing things was the dearth of targets for wide receivers. Manning threw only six passes in their direction and completed just two for 22 yards.

Ben McAdoo would not commit to a marriage with this style of play. “Each game, each opponent, provides a new challenge and a new week,” he said Monday. “So, it just depends on how the week goes and what we think we have to do to give us the best chance to win the ballgame.”

Each week, though, should find the Giants reaching the same conclusion they did Sunday night, when McAdoo admired the game plan in the glow of victory.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be a real pretty football game, but that’s our style,” McAdoo said. “That’s how we feel like we have to win: physically, heavy-handed, with a lot of messes on the field. And I liked it.”

Beckham is not walking back in the door and onto the field for them. Their best options at this point are to rely on a suddenly resurgent running game — Orleans Darkwa had a career-high 117 yards on 21 carries, and his three gains of at least 15 yards or more equaled the Giants’ total of such runs in the first five games — and rookie tight end Evan Engram. He was targeted seven times, caught five passes for 82 yards, and scored the only Giants’ only offensive touchdown.

The key to it all is having a defense that can prevent large early deficits that would force the Giants to throw to try to catch up.

Until Shepard returns, at least, that seems to be who the Giants are. Even then, Shepard’s impact probably won’t be enough to change it that drastically.

“It’s not always easy to play that way,” Manning said of the new personality of the team.

For the rest of this year, they may not have any other choices.

New York Sports