EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — There will be no question about Eli Manning’s future with the New York Giants if he keeps playing like this.
Manning brought out one of his vintage games Sunday, throwing for a season-high 434 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-29 loss to the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles.
It was Manning’s ninth career 400-yard game and his second big game against the Eagles (12-2) this season. He threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-24 loss in Philadelphia in September.
This game, Manning did it without the injured Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall in the lineup.
“We’ve got some new faces and I think this style of play, a lot of up-tempo, playing fast, gives us a great opportunity to be successful,” Manning said. “It helps out the offensive line, going against the front four, it gets them tired, it keeps them from substituting a lot if we play fast. The receivers, I’ve been with these guys for a while, they know the routes and giving them opportunities to get open. I still know I can play at a high level, make plays and make throws and win football games, and it’s good to go out there and make some plays.”
The Giants finished with 504 yards and 27 first downs, both highs for the season. The points were also a season high.
“He was just laser-focused, just locked in,” rookie tight end Evan Engram said. “He was stepping up in the pocket, he was being Eli, being 10. That’s the 10 we know, that’s the 10 I’ve watched for so many years and it was definitely a great battle. It was great to be out with him today and battle.”
The 36-year-old, two-time Super Bowl MVP nearly pulled out the game in the closing four minutes, driving the Giants (2-12) from their end of the field to the Eagles 9 for a first-and-goal. The drive ended when Manning could not connect with Engram on a fourth-and-goal pass from the 11 after a procedure penalty against right tackle Bobby Hart.
Engram felt there was pass interference on the play.
“I don’t know, it’s tough to know if it’s interference, if it’s the call or not,” Manning said. “You kind of just put it up high and give him a chance to make the play and we didn’t make it.”
Interim coach Steve Spagnuolo said Manning will start next weekend in Arizona.
This has been an unbelievably frustrating season for Manning. Much was expected of the Giants after making the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Some even predicted New York had a shot at the Super Bowl coming off an 11-6 season, including playoffs.
The season turned badly right away: The Giants lost their first five games. The offense was horrible, especially after recently fired general manager Jerry Reese neglected to help a dreadful offensive line in the offseason. The ultimate letdown was when second-year coach Ben McAdoo benched Manning for a game in Oakland on Dec. 3, ending his streak of 210 consecutive starts, second longest in NFL history.
McAdoo made the decision to evaluate backup Geno Smith without telling Manning, and it hurt Manning deeply.
Less than a week later, McAdoo and Reese were fired, and Spagnuolo has returned Manning to the starting role the past two games.
Giants co-owner John Mara also recently said he wants Manning back for a 15th season.
“Hey, I want to be back next year as well,” Manning said. “So, again, I love playing for the New York Giants, I love this organization. I appreciate everything they’ve done for me and I try to give back everything that I have to this organization and this team, so I’d like to be back as well.”
The Giants right now have the No. 2 overall draft pick and this is a year apparently stacked with quarterbacks coming out of college.
New York also has rookie Davis Webb, drafted in the third round this year. He has not played in a game yet.
Sterling Shepard, who caught a 67-yard touchdown pass, said Manning showed what he can still do. His other two TDs went to Tavarres King.
“I feel like they get after Eli (Manning) a lot, but I mean that’s how they’re going to do every quarterback in the NFL,” Shepard said. “But you know what, Eli’s a great guy and a great quarterback, so people do need to see that from time to time.”
They did against the Eagles.
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