Giants vs. Cowboys: Eli Manning and New York Look to Take Positives from Heartbreaking Loss to Green Bay into Must-Win Week 14 Matchup

December 6, 2011 – 11:16 am by Michael Bean

Talk about heartbreak hotel for the New York Giants in Week 13. Sure they maybe left a play or two on the board in their 38-35 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon, but they played their hearts out, and they executed pretty darn well throughout the game to get into position to hand the Packers their first loss of the season. After Eli Manning led the Giants for a long touchdown drive and then the ensuing two-point conversion to knot the score at 35, Aaron Rodgers calmly led the Pack into field goal range in the game’s final minute. Brutal.  The loss drops the G-Men to 6-6 heading into their critical Week 14 showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, who also lost in Week 14. It’s not technically a must-win game for the Giants next week, but it’s about as close as you can get for Manning & Co.

Manning joined ESPN Radio New York to talk about the Giants heartbreaking loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, if they believe in themselves as much or even more having played so well in the loss to Green Bay, why the Giants aren’t able to play that well more consistently, what the original play call was that he audibled out of on the Giants successful two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter, if he’s thinking at all about not leaving Aaron Rodgers too much time as he’s engineering the game-tying TD series, if he’s confident when playing in Dallas as he and the Giants will be next Sunday, if he thinks this year’s Packers team is tougher than the undefeated Patriots squad that the Giants met twice during their Super Bowl season, and if it’s difficult to go shake hands and exchange words with Aaron Rodgers after a tough loss like that.

If the Giants believe in themselves more than ever despite picking up a loss to Green Bay last Sunday:

“Yeah I think so. I think we have. I think the spirit in the locker room today was good. Obviously we’re still very disappointed we did not get the win, we were very close and there were a few other opportunities, a few things we definitely could have cleaned up. But the way we competed, kept fighting, kept responding to everything they threw at us and overcame it, but just fell a bit short. But I think the mindset is ‘hey, we can play a very high level, we can do a lot of really good things.’ And that’s what we expect from ourselves these next four weeks.”

Why aren’t the Giants able to play that well more consistently?

“I think we’re always going out there and competing. That hasn’t been the case. We’ve played a lot of close games and that’s just another one. Sometimes they’re high scoring and sometimes they’re low scoring. We’ve won a lot of them, and San Francisco and Philadelphia, we lost those two. We’re still right in it at the very end and still competing to the very end, we just weren’t able to capitalize on a few things.  So besides the New Orleans game where they just jumped out, and they can do that to people, you catch them on the wrong night and they’ll do that to you. Finally offensively we got off to a fast start. I thought that was something we needed to do and score a lot of points. And we were able to do that, so that was good. It doesn’t mean that every week is going to be easy and we’re going to roll through things. But we know that we can play. There’s been a few games where we weren’t able to put together two minute drives when we had opportunities to win it, and this one we did. We did all we could do, but I think the mindset is we’re excited about our opportunities, we’re excited about this game next week and where we stand.”

On what the original play call he audibled out of on the successful two-point conversion that tied the game at 38 late:

“We had a pass play called, and they were playing coverage, they were in a 2-high, so it was just going to be tough to work that. So we went to a run play, and guys all got it and we were able to get it in.”

If he’s thinking at all about not leaving Aaron Rodgers too much time on the clock when leading the Giants back for the game-tying touchdown drive:

“We’ve been asked that a few times over the years, and I don’t think that can ever be a concern. You have one mindset and that is to score, that is to get down there. You can’t go ‘well, let’s not get too many yards on first down, let’s go first, second and third down and then see.’ So we hit big plays — the first play hit 13 or 14 yards to Ballard, then the same thing the next hit, I hit Victor Cruz for a big play down the sideline. So you know, we had a good drive to go down there. We threw the ball on first and second down where the clock stops when we were down at the three-yard line. But you’ve got to score, we got a score and a two-point conversion, and in a sense you want to probably score a little faster than you think because what if you don’t get the two-point conversion? You want to leave time to get the ball back and kick an onsides kick and get that. So you’re really trying to score as quickly as possible in case you don’t get the two-point conversion and need time.”

If he’s confident playing at Cowboys Stadium which the Giants will be doing next Sunday in Week 14:

“We’ve had some good games there, so I think any time you get to play in good weather, in a dome and on turf, it’s always pretty good conditions to throw the football. So obviously they’re a talented football team, they’ve got a new defensive coordinator doing some different things on defense this year. So we’ve got to get prepared, but we’ve played well in the past so hopefully we can continue to do that.”

Which team was tougher — the ’07 undefeated Patriots or the ’11 undefeated Packers:

“That’s tough to say. When we played the Patriots in the regular season, obviously they might go down as one of the best teams of all time. Their defense was very good, and their offense was very explosive and scored a lot of points. So you see a lot of similarities with the Packers. They’re capable of scoring, their defense doesn’t give up a lot of big plays, so hopefully we’ll get another opportunity to meet the Packers, and in that case we’ve got a good feel for them and we’ll be able to do what we did against the Patriots the second time and be able to get a win.”

On how there’s possibly anything positive or meaningful to say when meeting the opposing quarterback at midfield after a tough loss like that:

“Well that’s just part of good sportsmanship. I went up to him, congratulated him on a game well played. He’s having a terrific season, and playing really good football. So you see guys over the years, guys you’ve competed against, and you just want to go up and talk to those guys. Sometimes you’re not feeling great about it, but that’s just being a good sport, congratulating guys and being able to accept losing knowing that you gave it your all.”

Listen here to Manning with Michael Kay on ESPN Radio New York

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