The best way to answer your critics who wonder openly if your career is close to the end? By doing precisely what Eli Manning did in Sunday’s 27-23 win over the Ravens.
The Giants’ 35-year-old quarterback, coming off three straight disturbingly ineffective games that led to questions about whether he was in decline, produced one of his best efforts in not only breaking his team’s three-game losing streak but telling his doubters to back off.
At least for now.
Manning completed 32 of 46 passes for 403 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 1:24 remaining, and had a 100.2 rating — his third rating above 100 this season but his first since Week 2.
In the process, Manning, who was intercepted twice, achieved several notable statistical milestones. He became only the sixth quarterback with at least 100 wins and two Super Bowl titles with the same team, joining Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady, John Elway, Joe Montana and Ben Roethlisberger. He played in his 200th game, becoming the sixth in NFL history to start at least that many games for the same franchise (Elway, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Brady are the others). He also moved past Elway for seventh on the all-time list with 302 touchdown passes.
Manning’s reaction: a shrug.
“My focus is really just on this season, on this team, and going out there and getting a win,” he said. “When I’m done playing, I’ll look back and see what I stand — maybe or maybe not, I don’t know. My focus is on getting this win and getting this season back on track and getting to where we want to get this year.”
Manning got off to a sluggish start — it took the Giants 20 minutes to get their initial first down — but came up with several big plays once the offense finally got moving. His first touchdown pass went to seldom-used Roger Lewis on a 24-yard throw to the right side of the end zone with 2:28 left in the first half.
He did his most significant damage in the second half, finding Odell Beckham Jr. for a 75-yard touchdown with 2:10 to play in the third quarter and a 66-yard touchdown with 1:24 remaining in the fourth. On the latter TD, on fourth-and-1 from the Giants’ 34, Manning found Beckham on a slant pattern to his right and Beckham did the rest, giving the Giants a 27-23 lead that held up.
It was Manning’s 31st regular-season comeback victory in the fourth quarter or overtime.
“We had a good play to the left, as well, but I knew I had one-on-one with Odell,” Manning said. “So I knew there was going to be a lot of space in there where he could take a little time to work. He did a good job winning and hitting the play.”
Beckham said Manning told his teammates beforehand that he was ready to have a big game.
“He led us the entire way in Eli fashion,” Beckham said. “He puts you in the right positions. He was making all the throws. He basically took us under his wing today and said he was gonna come out and give us his all. This is the most prepared person I’ve ever been around in my entire life.”
Eli Manning is the eighth QB in the 300-TD passes club:
1. Peyton Manning539
2. Brett Favre508
3. Drew Brees442
4. Tom Brady434
5. Dan Marino420
6. Fran Tarkenton342
7. Eli Manning 302
8. John Elway300
Manning has thrown for 400 or more yards eight times in his 13-season career. The Giants are 4-4 in those games.
Yards Opp. Result Date
510 TB W 9/16/12
450 Dal. L 9/8/13
441 SF W 10/11/15
429 Phila. L 12/28/14
420 Sea. L 10/9/11
406 NO L 11/28/11
403 Balt. W 10/16/16
400 Dal. W 12/11/11