The Giants knew this could be it for Eli Manning — the last time he might start a home game for them, or even the last time he might get into a game after a 16-year career with the team, complete with two Super Bowl MVPs.
“It was a special day,” Sterling Shepard said, “and we wanted to send him out on the right note.”
If Daniel Jones’ ankle is good to go again, then Shepard and his fellow receivers did their part to accomplish that in the 36-20 win over Miami on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Golden Tate juggled a pass from Manning at about the Dolphins’ 25-yard line before securing it and turning it into a 51-yard touchdown. Darius Slayton caught Manning’s other scoring pass, a 5-yarder. Shepard made nine receptions for 111 yards, including a nifty sideline catch that set up a TD.
“We don’t know what the future holds for any of us, really,” Tate said, “so just to be a part of something special like that and potentially send him out with the win at home is something I’ll tell my kids about and my grandkids.”
Tate gave Manning a going-away present of sorts. After Manning threw him the ball for the score that tied the score at 7 in the second quarter, Tate immediately handed it right back to him, feeling it was his duty. Manning said, “Thank you.”
“It’s my honor to even play with him for the little time that I did,” Tate said. “I grew up watching him, especially during the Super Bowl era when we won it in ’07 and ’11. Just being a fan of him, I felt like it was the least I could do.”
The Dolphins led 10-7 early in in the third quarter when Slayton moved toward the middle of the end zone, then went back outside, where Manning found him open.
“It’s probably something I won’t be able to appreciate until I get older and look back fully, but it’s definitely a special thing for me,” Slayton said.
Shepard caught a 24-yard pass and got both feet down along the right sideline to put the Giants at the 1-yard line with 5:05 left in the third quarter. Saquon Barkley ran it in on the next play to give the Giants a 23-13 lead.
“That’s something that Coach Tyke [Tolbert, the receivers coach] has us go over every week, trying to drag that back foot whenever you are making close catches to the sideline,” Shepard said.
After Manning came out to a standing ovation with 1:50 left, Shepard had a few words to say to him.
“Just 'I love you, man,' ” Shepard said. “He’s taught me a lot. I came in here as a young pup and he’s raised me right.”
With Tom Rock