New York Giants’ Eli Manning hitting stride again at age 37
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Eli Manning’s age suddenly doesn’t seem as important as a year ago.
The two-time Super Bowl MVP is having somewhat of a bounce-back year after many wondered whether he would remain the Giants’ quarterback in the wake of a 3-13 season.
Not only did new coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman commit to Manning in the offseason, the 37-year-old has rewarded their faith. He is coming off a 25-of-29 performance for 297 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-22 win over the Texans in Houston on Sunday.
His completion rate of 86.2 percent was the second-highest in a full game in his career, topped only by an 87.1 percent effort against Miami in 2015.
“I think last week we had great urgency and understanding what we had to fix it and get better,” Manning said Wednesday.
“I think you have to have that same mentality. We got to fix things from last week that there were mistakes and I think that’s the mindset is to get better.”
For the year, Manning is 81 of 110 for 800 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, which came on a pass tipped by a defensive lineman. His statistics are top 11 in the league among quarterbacks as the Giants (1-2) prepare to face another geezer: 39-year-old Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints (2-1) at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
“I’ve known Drew a long time and watched his career and obviously what he’s been able to do in New Orleans is impressive,” said Manning, who met Brees in college when the two attended an Indianapolis Colts’ game. “So great person, great quarterback and always fun to compete against him.”
Both quarterbacks have played well this season. Brees is third in the league, hitting just over 80 percent of his passes for 1,078 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
“They’re both outstanding players and I think I said it either Monday or yesterday, there’s no substitute for experience, especially when you’re well-performing guys like they are,” Shurmur said.
“They’re good players, and so it doesn’t surprise me. I think in this game at certain positions, as long as your legs and your arms stay good, you’ve got a chance to continue to play.”
Tom Brady of the Patriots is the NFL’s current oldest quarterback at 41, while Brees and Jets backup Josh McCown are 39. Manning is the fourth oldest.
Manning said the length of quarterbacks’ careers are increasing because players are taking better care of themselves, there is less practice and subsequently less throwing. The league also is making sure quarterbacks are protected.
How long Manning continues to play is uncertain.
“I don’t think I ever had an expectation of how long it would be in the first place,” he said. “You kind of play until you’re not.”
Manning and the Giants are going to have to step it up to compete with the Saints. New Orleans is averaging more than 34 points. The Giants have not scored 30 in a game since their regular-season finale in 2015.
“You never put a ‘you have to score this amount or that amount’, you always have goals you want to hit in general, but you play the game and you don’t know what’s going to happen or what the circumstances are,” he said. “You just got to be ready for whatever game it turns out to be.”
NOTES: CB Eli Apple (hamstring) and TE Evan Engram (knee) did not practice. Shurmur seemed to give some of his older players a maintenance day with DT Damon Harrison, LB Connor Barwin and RB Jonathan Stewart not practicing. Harrison briefly became a line coach and worked with the group on snap movement.