Did Giants make mistake in passing up Sam Darnold? Only Eli Manning can end narrative

EAST RUTHERFORD — Two signature moments of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning's career — both literally and figuratively — have come in road victories at Dallas.

He was superb in leading the Giants' 33-31 triumph nine years ago in the grand opening of Jerry World, ruining the coronation of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' $1.2 billion palace now known as AT&T Stadium with his play and a pen.

Manning's autograph – with the date and the inscription "First win in the new stadium" – remains, as Jones puts it, "memorialized" on the wall inside the visitors' locker room.

Two seasons earlier, the Giants would not have gotten to Super Bowl XLII and their subsequent monumental upset had Manning not found a way to bury the Cowboys in their old building in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Dallas had a 14-7 lead late in the second quarter and all of the momentum until Manning and the offense covered 71 yards in a staggering 46 seconds to pull even at the half.

The Cowboys never recovered and Manning was greatly responsible for that.

"It's all about being ready and being prepared for the situations that are thrown at you," Manning told me back in 2010, repeating a mantra that he has undoubtedly uttered hundreds of times before and since then. "A lot of times you make your own luck or make your own bad luck."

That quote came on the heels of a 2010 Sports Illustrated poll that listed Manning as one of the league's most overrated quarterbacks back then — before he went on to win his second Super Bowl the following season. 

No Giants fan should need those history lessons, but sometimes a reminder or two can provide great context to the task at hand.

Now at 37, Manning has heard and seen it all. Well, just about.

Whether he pays attention to any of that is another story.

The Big Apple tabloids and sports radio talk airwaves have essentially turned the town over to rookie quarterback Sam Darnold and the Jets after one impressive victory Monday night in Detroit, in turn revving up the narrative that the Giants made a mistake passing on Darnold for Saquon Barkley back on draft night.

And that, of course, mostly has to do with Manning.

Truth be told, no matter how well Barkley plays moving forward, Eli Manning is the only one right now who can stop the Darnold talk, at least in regard to the Giants' role in that.

"I think the mindset is keep working, keep grinding," Manning said Wednesday. "The way you look at it, it’s the first game of the season with a new coach, new players, new schemes. Not everything is going to be perfect. There’s some good things. Obviously, a lot we’re cleaning up as well. We just got to play better ball. We got to make some plays here and there, clean some things up, get on the same page with how we’re doing things. So, I think each week we’re going to learn a lot. We’re going to learn how to clean up this offense, how to clean up the mistakes that were made, and we’ll get better. There’s enough good things to build off, and know we can go out there and play better football."

Hall of Fame quarterback (and Manning predecessor) Kurt Warner believes Manning has a good chance to be at his best this season as a complementary piece within an offense of featured playmakers Beckham, Barkley, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram.

"He's a guy that makes big plays in big moments, so when they've been great, play defense, keep the game close, give him a chance at the end and he's been phenomenal," Warner said recently. "And that's where I think Eli is at his best."

Source: Read Full Article