Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fired Up for Urgent Win-Out Scenario

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fired Up for Urgent Win-Out Scenario

Article excerpt

Eli Manning initially built this season around one simple premise: improvement.

He challenged the reigning Super Bowl champions to look in the mirror and get better individually, which in turn would increase their collective success.

With two games left in the regular season, this much is true for Manning and the Giants: They have failed in that quest, although fortunately for them it's not over just yet.

Sure, at this point Big Blue are a game better than last season record-wise. But from a performance perspective, factoring in inconsistency and a pair of no-shows in Cincinnati last month and three days ago in Atlanta, it's a flat-footed tie.

And now that Robert Griffin III and Tony Romo have grabbed the virtual lead in the NFC East, it's time for Manning to seize the moment and take back a season that was supposed to belong to him and his team -- and once did.

"Excitement" is what Manning insists he felt when the win-out scenario for the Giants to clinch a playoff spot was revealed to him Monday, not an expression of relief or concern.

If the Giants win their next two games, beginning Sunday in Baltimore and then the following week at home against the Eagles, they'll get the chance to defend the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the postseason regardless of what the opposition does.

That playoff invitation would come along with an NFC East championship, or one of two wild cards, depending on how the rest of the division plays out.

If the Giants lose to the Ravens, the flip side of their predicament is elimination, which could happen under that premise with victories by Washington, Dallas and Seattle.

"You don't have to rely on anyone else. You know what is ahead of us. You know what the stakes are," Manning said. "I think everybody should be excited about the opportunity ahead of us."

Manning has not necessarily had a poor season, and to say he has regressed from where he ended last year would be a bit foolish.

There's also no debating he has not taken the step forward just about everyone expected him to take, most of all Manning himself. …

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