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Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Bill Kostroun/AP/Press Association Images
# Gridiron
The Redzone: Cometh the hour, cometh the Manning
Quietly and confidently, Eli Manning has been putting together, statistically at least, the best season of his NFL career. Steven O’Rourke wonders how he’s managed to do it without anyone noticing.

Miami Dolphins 17 @ New York Giants 20

In a way, Eli Manning’s career was almost always destined for failure. When your older brother is one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game, there’s very little you can do to outshine him.

It’s not for the want of trying mind.

Having had a successful collegiate career with Ole Miss in which he won numerous awards including SEC player of the year, Eli was set to be the number one draft pick of the San Diego Chargers in the 2004 draft.

One massive and nationally-televised sulk later, Eli was traded to the New York Giants in return for Philip Rivers and a couple of draft picks.

On the field, Eli has as many Super Bowl rings as his brother, winning the 2007 edition thanks to one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history.

Since then, however, the Giants have had just one playoff appearance – a 2008 divisional loss to the Eagles – and Eli has come to be regarded as a busted flush.

This year though, the younger Manning has quietly manoeuvred his team to 5-2 thanks, mostly, to a massive reduction in turnovers. Sure, the Giants’ schedule has been kind to them up to this point but Manning is on course to throw just 12 interceptions in 16 games this season, compared to 25 in the same period last year.

On top of that, he’s throwing the ball further than ever before — averaging 2.5 yards more per throw now (8.8) than he did when he won Super Bowl XLII.

Long, accurate throws result in wins and on Sunday he racked up nearly 350 yards and two touchdowns against the Miami Dolphins with his favourite target, Victor Cruz, making seven receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown.

The schedule gets much tougher for the Giants from here on in with games against New England, Philadelphia, Green Bay and the green half of New York as well as home and away fixtures against the Dallas Cowboys.

However, with his NFC East rivals so inconsistent, Eli Manning could well lead his team to the playoffs for the first time in three years. From there, who knows?

You can see highlights from the Giants win over Miami here.

Performance of the week

What is it about the NFC West that every time I predict the New Orleans Saints will coast to a massive victory over one of their members they produce a shock result to defy me?

Thankfully, no hats needed to be ingested this time but I’m sure I wasn’t the only commentator whose accumulator was ruined by Stephen Jackson’s first 100 yard rushing game in three seasons.

159 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries by Jackson single-handedly dragged one of the NFL’s worst teams to victory over one that really should prepare better the next time it faces a team from the NFC West.

You can watch highlights here.

Play of the week

They don’t score and, indeed, they don’t win the game, but you won’t see many plays that look more fun to be a part of than when the Jaguars’ Clint Session sacks Matt Schaub and forces a fumble.

This is possibly the closest to rugby that the NFL will come this season.

You can see it here.

Results

  • Arizona Cardinals 27 @ Baltimore Ravens 30
  • Minnesota Vikings 24 @ Carolina Panthers 21
  • Jacksonville Jaguars 14 @ Houston Texans 24
  • Miami Dolphins 17 @ New York Giants 20
  • New Orleans Saints 21 @ St. Louis Rams 31
  • Indianapolis Colts 10 @ Tennessee Titans 27
  • Washington Redskins 0 @ Buffalo Bills 23
  • Detroit Lions 45 @ Denver Broncos 10
  • New England Patriots 17 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 25
  • Cincinnati Bengals 34 @ Seattle Seahawks 12
  • Cleveland Browns 10 @ San Francisco 49ers 20
  • Dallas Cowboys 7 @ Philadelphia Eagles 34
  • San Diego Chargers 20 @ Kansas City Chiefs 23

Steven O’Rourke is the Offensive Co-ordinator of Tullamore Phoenix American Football Club, winners of the IAFL DV8s national title in 2010 and 2011. Tullamore are always recruiting new players so, if you’d like to play football and not just read about it, Steven would love to hear from you.

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