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Postgame QB Eli Manning Interview


Q: Do you find there to be similarities between that last drive and the last time you played in the Super Bowl?EM: There's obviously a few similarities with 1:30 left, with two timeouts, and Jake Ballard had a big catch down the middle for 28 yards at third and 10. It's a little different when we're down by three in that situation, so we could have settled for a field goal and I'm glad we didn't. We had a big pass interference that got the ball down to the one-yard line. They had a good blitz on first down and [we] couldn't get in. Then ran it at the second down and used their last time out. So third down with 19 seconds, you're in a situation where if you run it right there, you risk not getting off that fourth-down play. You have to run your field goal team on the field and try to un-pile those guys and kick it. So I'm glad we caught a pass, I thought, after just running it the time before, and hit a little play action, hit Ballard in the corner of the end zone, so it was a big play and a big win.

Q: You were talking about flashbacks. Were you comparing this game to the last one?EM: [I was just thinking about] the fact that the last time we played when we had a two-minute drive to win the game. It was just the same situation here. It was a little bit of a role reversal of when we scored to go up by four and gave the Patriots enough time where they had to score a touchdown. Fortunately enough, they scored real quick and it took them a minute and half and left us with enough time to get a good drive, thinking we only needed a field goal. We had plenty of time to go down there and get that, and you always want to get the touchdown. You never want to take it into overtime. You always want to get the win if possible, but fortunately enough, we made some big plays, we got into a situation where we could be aggressive and go for the touchdown.

Q: What's so much fun about being in that situation for you?EM: I think it's just that you know what to expect, you know what all the terms are. You have four downs to go for it. You know you have to make plays, you have to take chances sometimes and be aggressive. The offensive linemen know what their assignment is; they have to block, giving it their all every play. The receivers know they have to get open, and it's just that those are fun situations to be in. I think as an athlete and as a quarterback, you want the ball in your hands at the end of the game. I'd rather be down by three with 1:30 than up by four with 1:30 with Tom Brady on the field. So, I think that you like those situations where you have the opportunity to win the game.

Q: How difficult do you think that catch was for Jake to make in the middle?EM: I haven't seen the replay, but they were playing man underneath, with two safeties high, and we really hadn't thrown anything to him down the middle and so he got even with the guy and he's just a big target. You try to put it in a spot where he can make the catch, put it up high and get it into his hands. Sometimes they get their hands up after the ball hits them, or the safety can come and hit it out, but Ballard is a big sucker and make a big catch.

Q: Is this win more satisfying for you knowing you didn't have two of your top weapons?EM: I think anytime you come into this stadium against the Patriots and get a win, it's a big win. They are very good at home and they're always a good team, especially at home. They've been a great team for the last 10 years. I think to come in here and to fight – and it wasn't always the prettiest. They had a good plan and had us struggling there for a little bit, but I think we did some great things. We moved the ball, hit some big plays, had a good feel for what they were doing and ran the ball a little bit. Obviously we hurt ourselves when I turned the ball over down there in the red zone. That was one thing - we had to score touchdowns in the red zone. We didn't do that to start the game, but our last two drives we were able to finish it off and get touch downs.

Q: Thinking back to the time when you were on the radio talking about being in the same elite class as Tom Brady, what are your thoughts about it now?EM: I'm just trying to play to the best of my ability. I'm trying to play quarterback and win games. I don't get involved in trying to rank someone or compare myself to someone else. I'm just trying to win games for the Giants and we had a big win today.

Q: Did you see any of the signs in the stands saying you were not an elite quarterback?EM: I did not. I don't make it a habit of looking into the stands and reading signs. If I did, I don't think I would have thought they were the experts to make that decision.

Q: Are you surprised that the question about where you rank has become a season-long debate?EM: I just don't worry about it; it doesn't affect my performance, my preparation or my mindset on what I need to do each week. If someone wants to put me in that class or not doesn't bother me. It's not going to get me depressed or get me cocky. I just try to prepare each week and go out there and try to win each game.

Q: Can you talk about the penalty?EM: Really, it was a fortunate situation that they were showing a blitz, checked the protection and ran out. Some of the guys didn't quite get all of the route check and so really it's just the throw away – to put it somewhere in the Victor Cruz area – but throw it away and say, 'Hey we're screwed up here.' It wasn't a good situation. Fortunately, their guy held Victor and we got the ball down at the one-yard line. So we were really pretty fortunate right there.

Q: On the interception…EM: It's just a tough situation. They came out with an all-out blitz and had a free guy rushing toward me. It's one of those things where you try to put it up high in the corner, and let Mario [Manningham] run underneath it. I didn't quite put it deep enough in the corner back in the end zone. They were just able to see the throw and come off and intercept it. So, I made it a little bit too easy for them.

Q: What statement did you make about your team tonight?EM: If we made a statement, I'm proud of our guys, the way we fought tonight. We've done a great job all season. Things weren't always pretty. The first half offensively, we didn't get a whole lot going. But we didn't start forcing things. We didn't start turning the ball over. We stuck with it, we made adjustments and we started making some big plays. We started running the ball, we started running plays that gave us a shot to succeed and when we needed touchdowns, when we had to step up, guys continued to make plays at the right time. It's a great quality. When we need it, guys are making big plays.

Q: Do you feel like you are playing your best in this stretch from the start of the season until now?EM: I feel good about what we are doing offensively. We're more mature. We have guys who have been here at the receiving positions [for a while]. The offensive line has been here a number of years, and all of a sudden they are playing things they haven't showed all year. We have to make adjustments. We've got to be able to run some plays we haven't practiced in a few weeks. We have to call plays that we haven't talked about doing before. Our coach has great confidence in these guys that we can call some things that we haven't practiced in a month, but we can bring them back up if we need to do it. That's that advantage of having guys that have been here a number of years. Being here with coach for a number of years, you can pull some stuff out of that hat to give yourself a chance to succeed. That's fun. If they are running a few different things they haven't showed, we've got to run a couple things we haven't practiced.

Q: Why should we believe you really don't care about your standing?EM: I worry about my play, about what I think of my performance. It doesn't make a difference to me about what the media or fans say about me. I don't read the papers about myself or the Giants for the most part. I don't watch TV about the Giants and see what people have to say about me or us. I watch the film closely of myself and my teammates and try to put us in a situation to get better. I listen to our coaches, listen to their criticism and [take] their advice to heart and try to improve on each thing they tell me to do. I think those are the things you have to do to get better.

Q: Can you talk about your teammates' willingness to defend you?EM: That's what teammates are for. I love coming to practice every day and seeing these guys compete, watching our defense [and] the way that they play and compete and get fired up. When they make interceptions and big plays, we celebrate them, we cheer. When we make offensive big plays, they are cheering for us. It's a great combination and we've got to keep that attitude the rest of the season. Join other diehard Giants Fans!

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