Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Eli Keeps Plugging Right Along

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Eli Keeps Plugging Right Along

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD - Eli Manning once wondered if he had to convince his Giants teammates to believe in his talent, his leadership and, most of all, his resiliency.

In what remains the ugliest performance within a Super Bowl- winning legacy, Manning and the Giants were embarrassed by the Ravens just four starts into his NFL career.

Tom Coughlin had to remove Manning from that game Dec. 12, 2004 - - one the Giants ended up losing, 37-14 - and there were immediate questions about the staying power of their quarterback.

"I don't think anyone in a Giants uniform has lost confidence in Eli," then-center Shaun O'Hara told The Record in an interview after that game nearly 12 years ago. "There are some things he can't control. It's not fair for him to take the blame for those."

That was a long time ago, of course.

As Manning prepares for what will be the 200th start of his career Sunday -- coincidently against the Ravens -- there is once again criticism and some doubt attached to the recent play of the two-time Super Bowl MVP.

With Manning, ridicule and praise have always seemed to go hand in hand.

He brushes much of that off, accepting the nature of the position anywhere, but especially in the metropolitan area, where he has provided elation as much as he has caused frustration at times with a lack of regular-season consistency.

With the Giants (2-3) seeking to snap a three-game losing streak, Manning embraces the spotlight - and the heat - that comes with failing to deliver for a team that depends on a player as much as this franchise does him.

"When the offense is not playing up to standard, you've gotta look at the quarterback," Manning said. "That's just the way it goes. I understand that. I understand I gotta play at a higher level. Making the plays I've gotta make, getting the guys around you to raise their level of play -- it all has to be a team effort to get it done."

General manager Jerry Reese was not shy about his expectations for Manning heading into this season, saying the Giants "expect big things out of him" and "we are on his back" to carry the offense. …

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