Money can change a lot of people. I'm not saying that Eli Manning’" onclick="return(Jiglu.overlayOpen(this))">Eli Manning is one of them, though. If he's the game's highest paid player, you'd never know it by his words. I'm beginning to see it by his actions.
Monday night, Manning walked into Giants’" onclick="return(Jiglu.overlayOpen(this))">the Giants' huddle fully confident of his leadership abilities. In case you haven't heard, the Giants are looking for leaders.
I think he's finally matured to the point where he is in total command of his game.
He wasn't all that spectacular Monday, but he doesn't have to be. He knows now that all he has to do is make good decisions and keep his team focused. The others will do the rest.
In the two series he played, Manning was 2-for-3 for 31 yards.
In the first series, he had his first completion, a 13-yarder to Mario Manningham on 3rd-and-5, erased by an illegal formation penalty on Kareem McKenzie.
Manning tried Manningham on the next play, but the receiver couldn't hang on to it, forcing a punt. There's an obvious kinship growing between these two.
In the next series, Manning did the things Giants fans have been waiting to see from him. He displayed patience in the passing game and relied on his strong running game.
He checked down and found Brandon Jacobs for 13 yards on 2nd-and-6. He also hit Domenik Hixon perfectly on a short slant on 2nd-and-9 for a 19-yard gain. In between those plays, Jacobs ripped off a 22-yard run. The drives ended with Ahmad Bradshaw banging through the Panthers secondary for a 19-yard touchdown.
The Carolina Panthers' defense couldn't man up against the Giants' running game, even with Rich Seubert and Chris Snee out of the lineup. Manning was missing his security blanket as well, as WR Steve Smith didn't play.
It didn't matter.
Manning used what he had: his powerful running attack and his vastly underrated receiving corps. Teams will try to stack the box this season against the Giants because they have no respect for the young receivers and no respect for Manning's decision making.
If Monday is any indication, they will all regret it.
John Fennelly is the founder/publisher of blogNYG.com, the top fan-based blog in New York sports.