EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - After taking the opening snap and making a play-action fake, Eli Manning dropped back, set up with a bounce on his right heel and fired a 9-yard pass to tight end Darcy Johnson.
Any concerns about Easy Eli’s painful right heel were answered on the first play of his 83rd consecutive start Sunday.
Manning threw two scoring passes and led the Giants on touchdown drives on their first four possessions in a 44-7 win over the hapless Oakland Raiders that has New York (5-0) off to its best start since winning the Super Bowl in 1990.
“At the end, it was picture perfect,” said Manning, who was 8 of 10 for 173 yards, needing to play less than a half in the rout. “Just get in there and score, score quickly, score a lot and then rest it and make sure you don’t put more strain on it or make it more sore tomorrow. It turned out really well.”
Manning led the Giants on scoring drives of 77, 79, 94 and 13 yards in what was easily his most effective performance this season.
His touchdown passes covered 30 yards to Mario Manningham and 9 yards to first-round draft pick Hakeem Nicks. He played one extra series before donning a baseball cap late in the second quarter for a well-deserved rest on a day the Giants gained 483 yards in total offense.
“We didn’t expect anything less out of him,” said defensive end Justin Tuck. “People were talking he might not play but we figured he was. It was good to see your starting quarterback be a tough guy like that and go out there and help his team win. That’s the leader he’s become.”
Backup halfback Ahmad Bradshaw also played a big role, rushing for 110 yards and scoring on runs of 1 and 9 yards.
Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell struggled again leading the league’s worst offense. He lost three fumbles and was 8 of 13 for 100 yards — not that he had any time. He was sacked six times as the Raiders (1-4) were limited to 124 yards of total offense.
Their lone score — Michael Bush’s 5-yard touchdown run — came after the Giants’ Sinorice Moss fumbled on a punt return at his 15.
Manning’s availability was the Giants’ biggest concern. He sustained a painful injury to his right heel in the win over Kanas City last weekend. The 2008 Super Bowl MVP missed two days of practice and then took half the snaps Friday, giving the indication he would go on Sunday.
Two hours before the game, Manning was on the field warming up, and he showed no ill effects of his injury.
“He wanted to play; he wanted to play all week,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “He has done a great job with the power of the will over these things a couple of times.”
The next three Giants possessions were lightning fast. The second drive was three plays and 79 yards, featuring a 43-yard pass to Steve Smith and runs of 17 and 19 yards by Bradshaw.
The third score came on a five-play, 94-yard jaunt that featured a 55-yard screen pass to Bradshaw on third-and-24. Manning found Manningham in the right corner on the next play and the rout was on.
A sack by cornerback Terrell Thomas and a recovery by Tuck set up the three-play drive that Manning capped with his pass to Nicks.
“We couldn’t stop anything,” Raiders defensive end Richard Seymour said. “That’s a bad feeling when you are out there and they are running whatever plays they want to. The third or fourth quarter I think they had their backups in the game and they were still doing whatever they wanted to offensively. There is no excuse for that and everybody has to look themselves in the mirror and say, ’I have to do a better job.”’
Notes: Manningham missed most of the fourth quarter with a bruised chest. ... Raiders LB Ricky Brown sprained his right ankle. X-rays were negative. ... The Giants had the ball for more than 36 minutes, picking up 27 first downs to seven for Oakland.
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