EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Eli Manning may not be in a class by himself, but his draft class is.
When Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger all started on Kickoff Weekend, the 2004 NFL Draft became the first in history to produce three quarterbacks that have played at least one game in 16 or more seasons with one team.
The class of 2004 is often compared to that from 1983 because of the number of great quarterbacks each produced.
Thirty-six years ago, three quarterbacks now enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame were selected in the first round – John Elway (Denver), Jim Kelly (Buffalo) and Dan Marino (Miami). All three of those quarterbacks played their entire career with their original team.
The first round in 2004 delivered two-time Super Bowl winners Manning and Roethlisberger, plus Rivers. Manning and Rivers were traded for each other on draft day, but all three have suited up for just one team in their 16 seasons: Manning with the Giants, Roethlisberger with Pittsburgh, and Rivers with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers.
All three are ranked among the top nine in NFL history in all four major passing categories – attempts, completions, yards and touchdown passes. They have combined for 379 regular-season victories.
On Sunday, the 2004 draft class, including its most illustrious non-quarterback, established another milestone. Manning, Roethlisberger, Rivers, plus Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, each played in a 16th season for one team.
The last draft that produced four players to play at least one game in 16 seasons for one team was…1983. The players were Elway (16 seasons with Denver), Marino (17 with Miami), Bruce Matthews (18 with Houston/Tennessee) and Darrell Green (20 with Washington).
*Manning started his 231st game in the Giants’ loss in Dallas on Sunday. That ties him with Elway for ninth among all players in starts for one team in the Super Bowl era. In the Giants’ home opener against Buffalo on Sunday, Manning will tie former cornerback Ronde Barber, who started 232 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fitzgerald is next on the list with 235 starts and counting.
*Manning has started every Kickoff Weekend game since 2005. He is the fourth quarterback in history to start at least 15 consecutive season openers with one team. Manning joined the following players:
Brett Favre (15 with Green Bay from 1993-2007)
Dan Marino (16 with Miami from 1984-99)
John Elway (16 with Denver from 1983-98)
*According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Manning’s 233 games played tied him with Vinny Testaverde for the ninth-most games played by a quarterback in NFL history.
*Manning threw for 306 yards in Dallas. Perhaps next time, he should think about stopping at 299 yards or keep flinging the ball until he hits 400. The Giants have lost each of the last nine games in which Manning threw for at least 300 yards. They are 19-32 overall when Manning threw for 300 yards, including 4-5 when he throws for at least 400 yards. The Giants last won such a game on Oct. 16, 2016 against Baltimore. Manning finished that game with 403 passing yards.
*Manning’s 44 passes against the Cowboys increased his career total to 8,016. He is the sixth player in NFL history to throw at least 8,000 passes. Marino is directly ahead of him with 8,358.
*In Dallas, Manning threw for 300 yards, Saquon Barkley rushed for 120 yards, and tight end Evan Engram caught 11 passes for 116 yards. It was the Giants’ first 300/100/100 game since a 37-27 victory in St. Louis on Dec. 21, 2014, when Manning threw for 391 yards, Andre Williams ran for 110 yards, and receivers Odell Beckham, Jr. (148) and Reuben Randle (132) each exceeded the century mark. The Giants had last lost a game when they had a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver on Nov. 27, 2005 in Seattle.
*Engram’s 11 receptions and 116 yardage totals in Dallas were the highest totals for a Giants tight end since Nov. 11, 2007, when Jeremy Shockey caught 12 passes for 129 yards in a home game vs. the Cowboys. Engram and Shockey each scored one touchdown in those games.
*Barkley has 95 receptions in 17 career games. The NFL record for fewest games to reach 100 catches by a running back is 18, which is held by Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey.
*When defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence started in Dallas, it marked the seventh consecutive season the Giants started a rookie draft choice in their opener. That is their longest such streak since the 1970 merger. Four other teams have an active seven-season streak: Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.
*Aldrick Rosas has succeeded on 20 consecutive field goal attempts, the longest active streak in the NFL. Oakland kicker Dan Carlson is second with 16 in a row. Rosas is eight field goals shy of tying Josh Brown’s franchise record for consecutive field goal attempts made.
*The Giants did not record a sack on Sunday and have lost 10 of their last 11 games in which they did not sack the opposing quarterback. The victory was in San Francisco last season. Since the start of the 2014 season, the Giants are 3-13 when they do not record a sack.
*The Giants did not have a takeaway on Sunday and have lost their last 11 games in which they did not force a turnover.
*The importance of making big plays on defense: since 1990, the Giants are 2-22 when they have no sacks and no takeaways.
*Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott’s perfect 158.3 passer rating was the first ever against the Giants by a quarterback who threw at least 20 passes.