I felt a sense of relief while I was watching the New York Giants play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Eli Manning wasn’t doing great, but at least he wasn’t throwing interceptions all across the field like he did in the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. It seems that Manning has gained some field awareness since last game, especially when he delivered an extremely accurate pass to Larry Donnell in the beginning of the third quarter. The football flew right through the defensive player into the hand of Donnell. Everything was going smoothly: the fans were hyped, the Giants had a ten-point lead and there were only 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter. If the Giants had just run the clock and used time wisely, they could have taken home the win.
But Manning threw the game again.
The Falcons scored a touchdown soon after. When Manning got on the field again, his vibe was gone. He started to have trouble finding his receivers and many bad decisions were made. The Falcons players were reading the Giants offense effortlessly, and Falcons’ cornerbacks did a great job covering players far down the field. Interestingly enough, Manning ranked second on rushing yards after the game, which doesn’t make sense at all.
As Manning desperately threw away his final pass, Giants fans knew that this was just the beginning of a dreadful season. The ball bounced off receiver Preston Parker, and that was the game. The throw was good, the ball arced elegantly through the air, but why Parker? Instead of questioning this one bad decision, perhaps we should be questioning Manning’s poor performance for the entirety of the second half. Maybe the “fourth quarter Giants quarterback” was happening again.
After Manning’s $84 million four-year contract, which means he will most likely finish his career on the team, Giants fans are not the only ones who are unhappy about the 0-2 season opening. In the press conference following the game Coach Tom Coughlin said, “I’m frustrated like you are.”
From the first two games of the season, the New York Giants are letting themselves fall from a top-tier NFL team to a team that doesn’t actively seek opportunities. Coughlin said, “We can’t make mistakes … and we also count on the other guy [to make mistakes] and we didn’t get any today.” To people who don’t watch football, this might not sound as harsh, but to me, hearing this is devastating. When did the fighting Giants become a team that relies on their opponent’s mistake to win a game?
There’s no question that the Giants need to make an adjustment to meet fan expectations. The Washington Redskins are coming to the Meadowlands on Thursday and the Giants need to get themselves past whatever this is. There will be crucial moments in this upcoming game that decide whether the Giants will continue their losing streak. Let’s all hope that Manning performs well.