Eli Manning just knows how to win, period.
And it's that consistent tenacity that makes him an elite NFL quarterback.
Week 3 of the 2012 season was simply another test for Manning to prove his ability, because the New York Giants faced a confident Carolina Panthers team on Thursday. Although it was a short week for each team, the Giants were at the disadvantage with some key players out.
Considering that the Cats were also coming off a nice win over the New Orleans Saints, Big Blue had to rely on some new guys to step up.
Well, courtesy of the leadership from Manning, the Giants kept rolling into Carolina after coming up with 25 fourth-quarter points to miraculously comeback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New York got another reliable performance from running back Andre Brown, and receiver Ramses Barden answered the call.
Brown finished with 113 yards, scored twice and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Barden on the other hand, accounted for 138 receiving yards on nine catches and averaged 15.3 per reception.
The Giants bowled over the hopeful Panthers, and this clearly is not the same team who lost to the Dallas Cowboys at home in Week 1. So it does beg the question: Does Big Blue field the league's most dominant offense?
To answer that, we have to differentiate between "most dominant" and "most explosive."
Explosiveness comes from yards and points together. Last year that was the New Orleans Saints because they averaged 467 total yards and 34.2 points per game. Does that, however, mean they were the most dominant?
No, because the Saints lost in the postseason and Drew Brees still threw 14 interceptions (16 including the playoffs). Dominance comes from winning the time-of-possession battle, converting consistently on third down, scoring touchdowns when in the red zone and proving to run the rock virtually at will.
As for 2012, the Giants are among the select few being the most dominant. Manning is the key factor here because we're seeing him make everyone around him better.
Just as Manning did earlier in his career, this New York offense goes as he goes. However, that's not strictly in terms of his passing effectiveness. Whether it's audibles, play-action or making the clutch pass, everyone steps up when Manning is under center.
And this comes as no surprise since Big Blue has won two straight and scored 77 points in that span. To break down the intricacies of how well New York operates, let's check out the Giants opening score versus Carolina.
Note: All screen caps are courtesy of NFL Game Rewind.
Manning Gets Six Points on a Key Third Down
The Giants come out in a spread formation with tight end Martellus Bennett on the left wing.
As the play develops we'll see that it's man coverage with a linebacker spy underneath and a Cover 1 safety. What Manning immediately takes advantage of is Bennett making an inside move and getting open.
That move gets him upfield quicker, which is key because it reduces the amount of time the safety has to help over the top. This kind of fast decipher of the defense from Manning is what makes his decision-making skills so dangerous.
While the routes are unfolding, Manning has a staring contest with the safety and, by association, the spy linebacker since he's in the line of sight. As Bennett continues upfield, you can see the inside leverage he has on the defender, which allows for ease to remain vertical.
It's also important to note that Manning staring at the safety is freezing him just enough to prevent him from helping over the top sooner. Bennett's defender is correct with outside leverage because of the potential inside help: It just never gets there because of Manning's minuscule stare-down victory.
Once Bennett passes his man, Eli begins to throw. Notice how the safety remains staring at Manning. This is partially due to the top slot receiver also gaining stronger inside leverage. Combine that with the pocket protection and Manning could easily pump fake here and go to his right.
Instead, Manning goes with where he planned to go all along. And the result is an opening drive touchdown.
Enhancing his and the offense's dominance from that drive, Manning went 4-of-5 to four different receiving targets.
Spreading the field no matter who lines up outside is what puts the elites on that next level. In addition, New York went 7-of-14 on third down for the game and didn't turn the ball over.
Consistent efficiency is dominance, because it's astronomically more difficult to stop an array of receivers as opposed to one standout player.
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