Don't get me wrong—for all intents and purposes, the 2013 season is all but over for the G-Men. Their turnover-filled 27-21 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Bears Thursday night saw to that.
And Manning, who was responsible for all three Giants turnovers by tossing three game-changing interceptions, should shoulder the blame. Not all of it, but he deserved a good portion of the blame for the team's 0-5 start and on Thursday night in Chicago, as much as anytime this season, Eli was the Giants' undoing.
One first-quarter interception is bad enough, but when you throw two and one of them gets returned for a touchdown, it doesn't do much to help your chances; that's exactly what Eli did.
Yet, as Eli often does, he recovered from that awful start. With a resurgent ground game behind him, he led back-to-back 80-yard touchdown drives to keep things close.
Then faced with a 13-point deficit in the third quarter, Manning engineered a 91-yard touchdown drive to get New York within six points entering the fourth quarter.
It seemed for the first time all season, the Giants had real hope of winning a game. The offense even got two cracks at the ball with a chance to take the lead in the final stanza. But again, as he has done all season, Manning threw a costly interception as the team was driving for the go-ahead score. Just like that, it was over—a heartbreaking defeat that continued a season of humiliation.
Yet, for as bad as Eli has been this season (nine touchdown passes compared to 15 interceptions and an anemic 53 percent completion rate), he is still worth believing in. Like it or not, Giants fans, if this team is going to regain relevance anytime soon, it will come on the shoulders of the former No. 1 overall pick.
For whatever reason, Eli has always had moments in his career when he looked flat-out terrible. Sometimes, he throws the stupidest interceptions that just make you want to scream or rip out your hair. But in the end, he always has resilience and before long, his game will come around.
The struggles of both Eli and the Giants this season remind me of the Green Bay Packers of 2005—a team that was coming off four consecutive playoff appearances with a veteran-laden roster and Brett Favre at quarterback—who ended up going 4-12. Favre threw 20 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. The team was ravaged by injury, and Favre—trying to do too much, no doubt—was a turnover machine.
The moral of the story here is that after that season, most experts thought Favre was done, no longer capable of performing at a high level. But the ole gunslinger proved his doubters wrong.
Over the next four seasons, Favre went on to throw 101 touchdowns compared to 62 interceptions and led his respective teams to three winning seasons, two playoff berths, two NFC Championship games and an overall record of 42-22.
Favre was counted out then just as Eli's being counted out now. So let's not forget: The same guy who tossed three interceptions Thursday night is the same coldblooded quarterback who beat Tom Brady twice in the Super Bowl with two of the most clutch fourth-quarter drives you will ever see.
Eli may not look it now, but he can still be that guy. The Giants need to get younger and they need to reload, but one thing they don't need is a new quarterback. Eli will be fine and someday soon he will remind us of his greatness.
So don't give up on him, Giants fans; he's the greatest quarterback in the history of the franchise for a reason. Even though he's been absolutely terrible this season, Easy E has a lot of good football left in him.