Mama said that there'd be days like this

  • Article by: KEITH IDEC , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 25, 2007 - 8:28 PM

Eli Manning threw four picks and, for the first time in 23 years in the NFL, three were returned for TDs.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Eli Manning has showed some progress since his first abysmal game against the Vikings, but it wasn't evident Sunday.

Two years and two weeks after throwing four interceptions during a close loss at home to the Vikings, the Giants' fourth-year quarterback played even worse in a humiliating home defeat. Not only did he again throw four interceptions, but the maligned Manning became the first NFL quarterback in 23 years to have three picks returned for touchdowns in the same game.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin contemplated benching Manning in favor of backup Anthony Wright, but only briefly.

"I thought about it at one point," Coughlin said after the 41-17 defeat, "but I didn't see the purpose in that, either.... I wasn't going to do that to him, and I wasn't going to do that to me, and us. I just don't like that."

With his older brother, Peyton, at the game, Manning often threw too high, too low, too short or too long en route to a career-high 28 incompletions. Another interception was overturned late in the third quarter because a replay official determined that Vikings cornerback Cedric Griffin didn't have possession as he rolled over after catching another Manning miscue. The Vikings' pressure, particularly up the middle, made Manning throw earlier than he would've preferred on numerous plays, but he was out of sync with his receivers even when there wasn't a Viking hitting him, or at least in his face.

"Anything you do [for a living], you have bad days," said Manning, who was sacked three times and officially hurried on seven other plays. "When it's going bad, it can add on and you get behind and you try and force things.

"They just got us out of our element. They got an early lead and we kind of went to a two-minute mode. We weren't able to run the ball and hit a play-action [pass], and that's when we're at our best."

The poor performance epitomized Manning's inconsistency since he became the Giants' starting quarterback late in his rookie year. The first overall pick of the 2004 NFL draft, Manning played one of his best games as a Giant the previous Sunday in a 16-10 road victory over Detroit. Only four of his incompletions were the result of errant throws, and he completed 28 of 39 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown.

Manning's problems Sunday resulted in an unsightly 33.8 quarterback rating, but his teammates weren't worried about his psyche as they left Giants Stadium.

"Tony Romo threw five interceptions [against Buffalo last month], so nobody said anything about those things," Giants cornerback Sam Madison said, referring to the Cowboys quarterback. "So we're not going to say anything about this one. It happens. He's the leader of our football team. We're still following him and we're just going to be here for him."

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