Making the Case for Eli Manning as NFL's Best QB

Lou RomContributor IOctober 21, 2012

Oct 21, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) tucks the ball under his arm and scrambles for a 5-yard gain in the second quarter against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE
The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

After being outplayed by rookie Robert Griffin III for much of Sunday's matchup, some might find it odd to argue that Eli Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL.

However, Manning continues to pull out games with spectacular comebacks when his team's back is against the wall. Case in point: Sunday's 77-yard touchdown strike to Victor Cruz a mere 19 seconds after RGIII gave the Redskins the lead following a boneheaded Manning interception.

That was the 23rd fourth-quarter comeback of his career and his 27th game-winning drive.

If being the best is about performing under pressure late in the game, then no one does it better than the younger Manning.

Aaron Rodgers may have a prettier spiral. Manning may not have Matthew Stafford's gun, and RGIII has legs to spare. But when 45 minutes have elapsed and the game is on the line, no one is more reliable than Manning.

To be fair, Eli Manning makes his fair share of boneheaded plays in the fourth quarter—as evidenced Sunday by his ridiculous quick out, picked off by linebacker Rob Jackson, that never should have been thrown. But he almost always overcomes them, and he often does so lightening fast.

He has the memory of a gold fish—terrible pick one second, perfect touchdown past the next. That ability to forget, to take that post-mistake snap with a fresh take, is the magic of Manning.

Up until the strike to Cruz, Manning's day was downright pedestrian—a mere 25-of-39 for 260 yards and two interceptions. But once again, with the game on the line, he rose to the occasion, throwing the perfect pass to Cruz, who blew by Josh Wilson and Madieu Williams to put the Giants up for good.

Manning may not match last season's iconic stats—4,933 yards, 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, with a 61 percent completion percentage—but he's becoming more efficient and smarter every day behind center.

Manning's 2012 line is respectable: 1,772 yards on 63.6 percent passing with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. But in Vegas, bettors know the line on Manning is simple: Don't bet against him.


Lou Rom, a veteran journalist with more than 17 years experience, covers the NFL, his hometown New York Giants and whatever else gets under his skin for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter at