Eli Manning (10) of the New York Giants looks to pass in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Coming on the heels of the New York Giants' 24-2 domination of the Atlanta Falcons, during which the real story was the performance of the team's much-maligned defense, this might seem an odd moment to launch into a post singing the praises of Giants' quarterback Eli Manning. In reality, though, this is the perfect time.
Manning was brilliant Sunday, going 23-of-32 for 277 yards and three touchdowns, a passer rating of 129.3. He scrambled 14 yards for a critical first down, setting up the Giants' first touchdown drive, a 13-play, 85-yarder that took more than seven minutes and was their longest of the season in time of possession. Manning never turned the ball over. He moved masterfully in the pocket, deftly avoiding several sacks. He controlled the line of scrimmage, several times changing the play for a positive result.
By now, no one should question whether or not Manning is an elite quarterback. There are several great quarterbacks playing in the NFL right now. Put them in any order you want, when you discuss them the Giants Manning has to be in that conversation.
Yet, some people will never understand. In discussing the 'rootability' of each team in the playoffs prior to the weekend action, Andrew Sharp of SBNation.com wrote this:
On the Shooter-Happy continuum, there's no NFL quarterback closer to Happy Gilmore than Eli Manning. He drinks to excess, he's a shockingly obsessive prankster, and some of the decisions he makes on the field are so stupid and incomprehensible that all you can do is smile and shake your head. He may not actually be good, but he's always entertaining one way or another, and if the Giants can get past round one, New York and their goofy ass QB have a chance at sneaking up on everyone all over again.
The only way to explain that sort of hatred is to look at the writer's profile and discover that he is a Dallas Cowboys fan. Thing is, though, even having just had a Pro Bowl season during which he passed for 4,933 yards and led five fourth-quarter come-from-behind victories, Sharp is likely not the only one who still looks at Manning and feels that way.
A somewhat giddy Brandon Jacobs of the Giants answered a post-game question Sunday about Manning by saying this:
"But Eli, I can't say enough good things about E. I think E is a beast, and for anybody in this country to think anything different about him...ya'll know what I mean. Peace out."
Giants fans do know what Jacobs means. For those who don't, well, that is their problem. The Giants are lucky to have him.