Eli Manning’s favorite part of his 4-yard run on third-and-4 against the Bears on Sunday wasn’t that it went for a key first down. Nor was it that it set up the next play, a 48-yard pass to Victor Cruz. And it certainly was not the awkward “slide” he performed at the end of it.
No, what made it special for the Giants quarterback was the reaction of the fans at MetLife Stadium.
Because Bears cornerback Tracy Porter was injured on the play, there was a break in the action and it allowed the crowd to do something Manning never had experienced.
“Hey, I got my first chant, so that’s exciting,” Manning said on Tuesday, recalling the moment of glory.
Indeed, there was a chant of “E-LI! E-LI!” reverberating throughout the stadium at that point.
“I heard it, I heard it,” Manning said. “It was good.”
Manning said he hasn’t heard Giants fans do many chants during his 12-plus years as the team’s quarterback. “Other than JPP I can’t think of too many other chants there have been,” he said. Asked about the fans yelling “Cruuuz!” whenever Victor Cruz makes a big play, Manning shrugged.
“That’s more of a cheer,” he said.
The fans weren’t the only ones excited by the play.
“They like to get after me,” Manning said of his teammates. “They get fired up. The offensive line, running backs, receivers, they all get fired up when I run or can run for a first down.”
As for the slide, Manning admitted it was not textbook. He was running and then dropped, skidding on his knees, sort of like Bruce Springsteen sliding across the stage.
“It was one of those deals I saw the linebacker to the left, I was going to kind of cut back and get the first, and [Porter] kind of surprised me,” Manning said. “He had Odell [Beckham Jr.] and he came off at the last minute. I was stuck between sliding and just going down, but I still wanted to get the first, so I kind of got stuck in an awkward position.”
So awkward that Porter didn’t know whether to pull up or go for the hit. He wound up getting hurt, which may have been the first time Manning was involved in a collision and got the better of it.
Porter has some history with the Mannings. Playing for the Saints, he intercepted Peyton Manning in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIV to deny the Colts and Manning a second title. Eli Manning certainly was aware of that, but jokingly insisted it had nothing to do with the play.
“I wasn’t targeting,” he said.