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QB Eli Manning Interview


Q: How much are you looking forward to playing a divisional opponent and taking a look at the playoff race?

A: We're excited about this game, obviously a big one. It's a little different waiting this long into the season before playing Dallas for the first time. We'll have a lot of film to look at it. We know them pretty well. They have a new defensive coordinator, will be doing some new things, but we know their personnel. We know they're very talented and it should be a great atmosphere for a big game.

Q: Despite the record, you have to be happy that you have an opportunity to play for first place.

A: Yeah. Obviously we got off to a fast start in the season and won a lot of games. That's helped keep us in position to be fighting for the division. A lot of times that's all you can ask for. When you get into December you want to be playing important games and every one is important right now, none bigger than this one. We're playing against Dallas, who is the leader in the division right now, but we have a chance to change that. This is going to be a fun one.

Q: Can you look at this past game as a moral victory?

A: Hopefully we can take some momentum from the game. A lot of good things, a great fight, great determination coming back from being down at times and fighting back and tying up the game. Those are the things you like to see. You like to see that competitiveness amongst the players. I thought there was great energy, great enthusiasm and great confidence throughout the whole game. We have to make sure we take those things into practice this week and into the game next week.

Q: Is it fair to say that the playoffs have started?

A: In a sense. As you get late into the season every game is important. Every game is going to decide whether you make the playoffs or not. We know what's ahead of us. We know what's ahead of us. We know what we have to do right now. This is a huge game. It's not a situation where all of a sudden you get stressed or you get worried about winning or losing. You get excited about these games. This is where you want to be. This is going to be fun and we have to look forward to it.

Q: Do you enjoy playing in Dallas? You've had some of your best games there.

A: Playing Dallas, it's always a big game. It's a division game. You know they're talented. It's on turf. It's indoors. You obviously have good weather there. So all of those things make it good conditions for a quarterback to go out there and play well. Hopefully we can continue to do that.

Q: Did Ahmad's presence open things up?

A: I thought Ahmad played well. Obviously, first play, hitting a pass to him. Probably would have been just a two-yard gain, but he makes guys miss and we get seven yards. Next play, run play that they had a pretty good defense [for], but he was able to get the first down. I thought he ran hard and obviously when you have that mix of Ahmad and Brandon, it throws the defense off a little bit. You have a shifty guy and then Brandon is running downhill and powerful. When we have those two guys in the game it helps out our run game.

Q: Do you attribute Brandon's success to Ahmad being back?

A: It's just two different style running backs. I think it's a good mix to have. I think it helps out both of them.

Q: Have you ever looked at the stat sheet and wondered how Cruz came out of nowhere?

A: I looked at it last week just to see what his average per catch is. It's a very high number. He does a good job of getting open, doing the little things right, setting up moves. If he's not doing something right, he wants to be told. He wants to learn. He wants to get better. I think he still knows he is learning and there are a lot of new things out there, things he can improve on, but he's got a knack for making big plays and stepping up in crunch time.

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Q: He wouldn't have been a guy you'd pick in training camp to break the Giants franchise records for receiving yards.

A: Probably not at the beginning of the year or last year, but he's worked hard and overcome a lot of things. He's a joy to work with and practice with and a joy to have on the field with you because he is a natural playmaker and he does work hard on his craft.

Q: How much does it affect you when David Baas goes out a couple of hours before the game?

A: I think at this point, I've been here a number of years and the way we've had offensive linemen in and out. Those guys are great. Before the game you kind of hear the news and I was talking with Snee and some of the guys. All you can do is laugh and say, 'Hey, what are you going to do?' You can't start crying or complaining. We have to midstream adjust. Who's playing center – Boothy is going to play center, alright we're fine. He's done fine. Mitch has been practicing during the week and getting reps the last couple weeks and has done well. Those guys have been here. They know what they're doing. They know the game plan and came in and did a great job.

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