The New York Giants Season Comes Down to One Game

December 27, 2011 – 8:45 am by Chris Fedor

The New York Giants have been one of the most perplexing teams in the NFL this season. Even though they entered the season with a banged up roster, the Giants got off to a great 6-2 start thanks to some heroics by Eli Manning in the fourth quarter of a few of the games. It looked like Big Blue had the inside track to an NFC East crown and a return trip to the playoffs. Instead the G-Men are just 2-5 in their last seven games and their season is on the line Sunday night at home against the Dallas Cowboys. Their coach’s tail might be on the line as well.

The first meeting between the Cowboys and the Giants went down to the wire and it was Eli Manning that outperformed Tony Romo late in the game. If the Giants want to return to the postseason it will once again be on the shoulders of their franchise quarterback. Earlier this season, Manning mentioned that he belonged in the conversation with the elite quarterbacks in the game. For much of the season he has been able to live up to that statement and is in the midst of probably the best season of his career. If he wants to eliminate any doubt when it comes to his standing amongst the game great QB’s, Sunday’s game is the kind that he needs to win.

Eli Manning joined ESPN Radio in New York with Stephen A. Smith on the Michael Kay Show to talk about the win this past weekend against the New York Jets, what it was about the Jets defense that caused him to struggle so much, what they have to do to beat the Cowboys, if he thinks about how Sunday’s game can affect the future of Tom Coughlin in New York, and the season he has had individually.

On the win this past weekend against the Jets:

“It was obviously a huge win for us and more because it keeps us alive in the playoffs. That was the most important thing about all of this. In the media last week there was a lot of talk and this and that about who owns New York and this and that but it wasn’t really the biggest issue or the biggest factor. Both were in the playoff hunt, both teams needed this win and we were able to come out and get the win. That’s what made it important, for us to stay alive and keep our season going.”

Why he struggled so much against the Jets defense:

“It was a combination. They’re a good defense, they cause some protection issues, and I knew going into the game that we had to be smart with the football. The reason they have been in games and the reason they have scored as many points as they have is because their defense gets turnovers and gives their offense a short field. We still wanted to hit some big plays and take some shots down the field but they have two very talented corners on both sides and you have to be careful with your matchups there and not force things late or giving them a chance to get the ball because they both catch the ball very well. You try to play smart and there were some throwaways here and there, they got some good pressure, and it was a combination. I didn’t play my best football of the year but a couple big throws that we needed we were able to hit and some key runs so our offense as a whole was not as sound as we needed it to be but throughout the game when we needed some big plays we were able to step up and make some.”

What the Giants have to do against Cowboys to win Sunday night:

“Offensively we have to play better than we did the other day. We have to obviously protect the ball and not turn the ball over and we have to do better on third downs. Do a better job of getting first downs and moving the ball and keeping our defense off the field. Dallas’s offense is high powered, they have the ability to score and score a lot of points so we gotta make sure we’re doing our part and helping out our defense. They’ve got good players, their front seven is very talented and do a good job getting to the quarterback. We have to protect things up, our receivers need to get open in a timely manner, and we have to start making some plays and being more consistent on the offensive standpoint. It should be for a great atmosphere, a big game and again our season relies on this game. Would you like to be sitting on a game where you’re playing for a first round bye? Sure but hey last game of the season we’re playing for a chance to win the NFC East and get to the playoffs. Sometimes that’s all you can ask for. We’re in a lot better shape than a number of teams in the NFL so we’re happy about where we are, we’re looking forward to this opportunity and this game, and just make sure we go out and give it our best effort and play our best football.”

Whether or not he thinks about this Dallas game as one that could save Tom Coughlin’s job:

“I think Coach Coughlin wants us to focus on this game and focus on getting into the playoffs. Last week he stood in front of us and said ‘this is playoff time.’ We have to win two games to get into the playoffs. We got one of them with the Jets win and now we have to do it versus Dallas. We understand this is about the Giants, this is about us having the opportunity to go to the playoffs, extend our season, and we’re going to concentrate on those things. When you start worrying about other factors or things that might happen your focus gets off the task at hand. That task is beating Dallas.”

On his play this season:

“I think we’ve done some good things. I’ve tried to fix some things I wanted to get better at from last year. My job is to try to win games the Giants. I got ask a question and tried to answered it the best I could. (Host: You lived up to it Eli, you lived up to it.) I’m trying but obviously you have to live up to that every week. We have a big one coming up this week and I’m gonna try and do my part and do what I can to get the Giants a win and continue this journey, take it into the playoffs, and see what we can do.”

Listen to Eli Manning on ESPN Radio New York here

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