By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
To paraphrase Rex Ryan, Eli Manning didn’t get into the NFL to serve as Peyton Manning’s little brother.
Of course, we’ll never hear the Giants quarterback actually voice those words. He’s too polite for that, except perhaps when the two of them are in their former coach Dave Cutcliffe’s film room, a haven for them of offseason learning and honing where they compete just as hard as on game day.
Still, there is the undeniable fact. In two meetings against his older sibling, Eli stands 0-2. He lost 26-21 in the first Manning Bowl, which also served as the regular-season opener in 2006. In 2010, he lost 38-14 in Week 3.
Now, a year after the grueling neck surgery and rehab that saved Peyton’s career, Eli has a third and, perhaps, final chance to come out on top. Peyton runs the offense in Denver now. And one would think or at least hope that last week’s record-tying seven touchdown passes will be the anomaly, not the standard to Peyton Manning’s year. And considering the Giants come off a loss that easily could have been averted with one less Eli interception and even one less David Wilson fumble, emotions alone in this home opener Sunday indicate Eli should have a better than even shot at besting his brother.
“Hopefully he doesn’t throw seven touchdowns this week,” Eli said. “But I think our defense is up to the task and they’ll have a great gameplan. Offensively, we have to do our job.”
Doing the job involves putting up points. A lot of them, especially this week against a receiving corps led by Demaryius Thomas and supported by Wes Welker, Eric Decker, tight end Julius Thomas, and running back Knowshon Moreno. Put a couple on the ground against those guys, give them a couple extra series, and Peyton might create all sorts of mischief.
But let’s look on the sunny side. Assume — and it’s not a stretch to do this — that Tom Coughlin has glued running backs coach Jerald Ingram to Wilson’s ear, into which he constantly whispers the same mantra that cured Tiki Barber of his fumblities those many years ago: “Hold the ball high and tight.” Let’s assume Eli is a little wiser now and he’ll see that defensive end or linebacker slip into that screen pattern.
If those things happen, a Giants offense that already can score right along with the Broncos will get a little more potent. Consider that they put up 31 points last week against the Cowboys, in Texas, DESPITE six turnovers.
Eli is up to the effort. And certainly Peyton will come into MetLife Stadium looking to keep his familial dominance intact. Who, after all, wants to bow down to their younger brother?
The Giants have a more important reason for winning this one, however. An 0-2 start would not be good, especially if the turnover problems persist. That lineup has enough issues, like injuries on the offensive front and age on the defensive front. Self-inflicted wounds only serve to add to the pile.
But if all goes well, the Giants could use a win as a springboard to the next three games against Carolina, Kansas City, and Philadelphia.
Beating big brother is the least of Eli’s worries.
“It’s neat to see your brother on the sidelines when the National Anthem is playing and you look across and see your big brother and give him a nod,” Eli said. :Those are neat moments, and you do understand how special it is with both of us playing this game at a high level in the NFL.
“Besides that, though, it’s a game. You’ve got to go out there and try to do your job.”
That would be evening off the record, not the baby of Archie Manning’s three-son family beating the middle son.
You May Also Be Interested In These Stories