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Giants’ Eli Manning: Playoff opportunities are precious

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has beaten

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has beaten the Green Bay Packers twice in playoff games at Lambeau Field. Credit: Getty Images / Rob Carr

Eli Manning said there was a time in his career when he took the playoffs for granted.

No longer.

After missing them for four straight seasons, Manning said he wants to make sure he is in a position to make it count during this opportunity.

“No one understands that more than me,” he said on his weekly WFAN radio interview Monday regarding how cherished playoff appearances should be. “Hey, you don’t know if you are going to get another chance to make a run at it.”

Manning led the Giants to the playoffs four straight years from 2005 to 2008, winning the Super Bowl after the 2007 season. Since then, he’s been there only once, after the 2011 season, which also turned out to be a championship year.

“Early in your career, you don’t realize that,” he said. “You make the playoffs, you make it a few years in a row, it’s a given, it’s automatic. Then all of a sudden you kind of learn that it’s hard and it is special.”

Manning has a reputation for being able to perform well in playoff games. Hey, it’s been almost eight full calendar years since he’s lost one!

While the Giants players and coaches who were here in ’07 and ’11 recognize that, Ben McAdoo has a slightly different perspective. During both of those title runs, he was on the Packers’ coaching staffs that lost to Manning and the Giants at Lambeau Field, site of Sunday’s game against the Packers.

“I saw a quarterback that was very consistent,” McAdoo said of those games. “He was someone that didn’t let anything around him bother him. He was in the zone. You could tell. He was pretty sharp in both of those games.”

While there is urgency to this week, Manning stressed several times that his teammates enjoy the process of being a playoff team. He said he wants them to be excited and not nervous. He said it’s important that guys are “loose” and “not so uptight they can’t go out there and make plays.”

Most of all, though, the quarterback who turns 36 years old Tuesday wants them to recognize what he now understands.

“There are a lot of teams today that are having their exit meeting and I’m in there watching film getting ready to go play another football game,” Manning said. “[Playoff opportunities] are special. You don’t want to waste them just because you don’t know.”

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