While this year has not gone according to plan for either Manning or the whole Giants organization, this shouldn’t be the last time Manning runs off the field in the blue-and-white of the Giants.
Far from a pretty performance, the Giants battled and clawed their way to an 18-10 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday, closing out a disappointing season with a win. And while no one envisioned 3-13 for a team that was supposed to be in the playoffs, Manning was not at fault despite being inexplicably benched a month ago.
After the game he said, “I don’t want to go play football anywhere else.”
These remarks are a positive sign for a team that will be rebuilding this offseason.
“Yeah, it’s probably been my toughest year of football, I would say. Obviously with the losses, with the injuries, with a benching and coming back and uncertainty and everything going on. But really, the losses more than anything probably,” Manning said.
“It’s tough. It’s tough to prepare every week and to put all the effort into it and to not get the outcomes you want. Especially some heartbreakers that we lost early on in the season and then we kind of started losing some of our personnel. So, it’s been tough, but hopefully, we learn from it and grow from it.”
As it was for nearly all the Giants, 2017 was a down year statistically for Manning. At first blush, it would seem that it is time to move on from a quarterback set to turn 37-years old this week.
But the real numbers show a player that with an improved offensive line and some healthy targets can certainly be an elite quarterback again. That, along with some better performances under interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo, point to a Giants team that might not be far off from the playoffs.
Manning’s completion percentage (61.6) was higher than his career average (59.8) and his touchdown-to-interception ratio was in line with his career average as well. He did this despite taking the second-highest sack number of his career (31) and in an offense where on a weekly basis he had among the quickest release numbers in the league so as to merely survive in the pocket.
And of course, there was the close loss to the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks earlier where Manning had 434 passing yards and three touchdowns against one interception, showing a quarterback with little to no regression. Sunday’s numbers in the bitter cold and swirling wind of MetLife Stadium were far from as good, but the only thing that mattered was ending this season on the right note.
“It felt good just to get the win. After a tough year and a lot of tough games, to get the win and with the situation – we’ve got a lot of new guys playing today. Receivers, I’ve been working with them for a few weeks, but they made some plays. It wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve ever had, but to get this win, feel good for Coach Spags, for all the coaches. It’s not just been tough on players, this is tough on the coaches and the fans and everybody,” Manning said.
“So, it might not mean a whole lot when you look at it to get the third win, but it does mean something to the players. Guys have been working hard, they’ve been competing, they’ve been giving great effort all year and just to get a win and feel good in the locker room and have some cheers and have some hugs and kind of end this tough year on a good note is special.”