On February 3, 2008, Eli Manning directed the New York Giants to one of the three most stunning wins in Super Bowl history: a 17-14 win over the 18-0 Patriots. That win capped a four-game playoff run in which Manning threw a grand total of one interception.
In games 11 through 15 last season, Manning went 79 for 174 (a 45 percent completion rate) with four touchdowns and eight picks. In the regular-season finale and during the Giants' playoff run, Manning went 94 for 151 (62 percent) with 10 touchdowns and 2 picks.
"The fact is: There still will be some bad games that occur. That's part of football. You're going to go through that," Manning says. "But I know I can bounce back from it. And I think the fans know I can bounce back from it, and it's not going to affect me in games that go on after that."
There you have it. There's “Good Eli,” and there’s “Bad Eli.” Simple as that.
All the lazy, clichéd, moronic, blah, blah about Manning “growing up right before our eyes” and “coming of age” during the playoffs was just pablum for the masses. Bad Eli isn’t dead. He just happened to hibernate at the most opportune time for the Giants.
"I've got to become a better quarterback. I feel like every practice, every year, I've become more comfortable. And I think this year I will be better than I was last year," Manning says.
Still, if you're expecting Manning to pick up where he left off against the Patriots, don't make a trip to Vegas.
What happened in January and February hasn't been the norm for Manning. Those four-pick games and 18-for-52s weren't aberrations. Yeah, maybe this year Manning will throw 35 interceptions in the regular season then lodge an improbable pass into the eye socket of a teammate to win Super Bowl XLIII. How’d that for an encore?
History is massed against them
Since 1998, there have been 14 teams that appeared in a Super Bowl after a five-year-or-longer absence from that game. None of the 14 reached their conference championship the following season. Nine of the 14 missed the playoffs entirely.
The Giants hadn’t been in a Super Bowl in seven seasons before last February’s appearance. Explanation? The baggage you carry into the ensuing season — shorter offseason, more distractions and a desire by opponents to make a name on you — conspire to make it very hard for newbie teams to weather “The Year After.”
The defense took some hits
The Giants' engine to their postseason success has been stripped of vital parts. The defensive line that masked a susceptible secondary in the playoffs will be without retired Michael Strahan and injured Osi Umenyiora. Gone too is linebacker Kawika Mitchell, a key component in the defense who left in free agency.
PFT: Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith said the draft process taught him an important lesson on taking criticism.
Y! Sports: Redskins fans found what appeared to be the wedding registry for Robert Griffin III and fiancee Rebecca Liddicoat, and they helped out their star QB.
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