Groundhog Day for Eli and the Giants
Looking over this week's slate of NFL games there was something about the New York Giants visiting the Baltimore Ravens that seemed strangely familiar. Is it that the Giants have once again crapped the bed and find themselves with their backs squarely against the wall in a must-win situation? Maybe, but I don't think that's it. Could it be that the Ravens are, as always, heading into the playoffs still trying to figure out their offense? Nah, that's not it either. Oh, wait, I know what it is! This will be the second time this season that Eli Manning has a road game against an AFC North opponent exactly one week after his big brother played that very same team on the road.
Back on November 4th, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos went into Cincinnati and rallied to beat the Bengals 31-23. In the game, Manning overcame a couple of interceptions by throwing for almost 300 yards and three scores. The very next week it would be Eli's turn to take on the Bengals in Cincy. Coming off a brutal home loss to Pittsburgh, many assumed that Eli would seek his brother's counsel on any weaknesses in Cincinnati's defense he might be able to exploit. Well, whether the two brothers talked or not, the Giants pretty much got their heads handed to them, losing the game 31-13. Eli matched Peyton's two picks but failed to throw a single touchdown. Which brings us to this week.
Once again Eli will be facing an opponent, the Baltimore Ravens, that Peyton just beat. Though Peyton's passing numbers last week (17 of 28, 204 yds, 1 TD) were a bit pedestrian, he did a good job managing the game and, most importantly, did not turn the ball over. But ball security has never been Eli's strong suit, and it probably never will. The tough thing is, Tom Coughlin and his coaches seem to have visions of Eli interceptions burned on their brains. Because of this, there have been several games this year when the Giants have forced the run when there was absolutely no call for it. One game that comes to mind was at Washington a few weeks back. Eli was absolutely throwing at will against the Skins, racking up something like 200 yards in the first half alone. Then, in the second half, the Giants inexplicably became more conservative and ended up losing the game 17-16 with Manning failing to hit the 300-yard mark. Last week, again, even though the Giants were helplessly behind the Falcons, they kept trying to establish the run. They simply can't continue to do this when it's not there.
So tomorow when New York finds themselves in the familiar position of trying to save their season, they will also hopefully have a little faith in their quarterback. It's one thing to want to have a nice balanced attack, but not when it comes at the expense of Eli Manning, a guy who has made his name coming up big in December and January.