Eli Manning may have played in his final home game as a member of the New York Giants, and if so, he was sent off with a standing ovation after his team’s 36-20 win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 15.
The victory didn’t get the Giants any closer to playoff contention, but it snapped a franchise-tying nine-game losing streak and also signified Manning’s first victory of the 2019 season — in his third start. The win also moves Manning to 4-0 all-time against the Dolphins, but for the soon-to-be free agent 39-year-old veteran quarterback, winning this game meant so much more.
“I don’t know what the future is…I think the support in the fans and their ovation — chanting my name first snap until the end — I appreciate that,” Manning said after the game. “I appreciate them always. And all of my teammates coming up to me. It was a special day. A special win.”
An “Eli” chant emerged loud and clear from the crowd as the final seconds of the fourth quarter ticked down.
When the game concluded, Manning was greeted immediately in the tunnel by his wife and children.
He also heard from Giants co-owner John Mara who many believe played a large role in the team’s decision to pick up Manning’s March 2019 roster bonus which all but guaranteed he would return to the team for the final year of his contract in 2019 even after they used the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to select quarterback Daniel Jones.
“He said thank you and congrats and I saw some of his grandkids — I gave them a high five,” Manning said about his postgame conversation with Mara, via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano.
Manning completed 20 of 28 pass attempts for 283 yards — 10.1 yards per attempt — with two touchdown passes and three interceptions in the win. He caught fire in the second half and nearly had a third touchdown but wide receiver Sterling Shepard was ruled out at the 1-yard line on a perfectly-placed pass to the sideline. Speaking of Shepard, the Giants’ highest-paid offensive skill position player finally got back on track with the quarterback he spent the early part of his career building a rapport with — he totaled 111 receiving yards on nine receptions.
Before the game, Manning delivered the pregame speech, and although the veteran told reporters after the game that no contest was ever won or lost during the pregame speech, his teammates certainly appreciated it. Wide receiver Golden Tate said Eli’s locker room speech was all about good it feels to get a win and not at all about himself, according to The Post’s Ryan Dunleavy. Fans who have followed this Giants team since Manning got drafted won’t be surprised at all to hear that Manning deferred the attention away from himself and toward his teammates both in the pregame and postgame.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Manning said. “They all wanted to get me a win. I wanted to get them a win, too.”
The Giants still have one home game remaining — in Week 17 against the Philadelphia Eagles — but Manning is not guaranteed to start that game. Jones is progressing from his high-ankle sprain and could be named the starter as soon as Week 16 against the Washington Redskins.
“Of course I’d like to (start),” Manning said after the game. “I know Daniel is getting close. I get it either way.”
If this the last we hear of Manning during not just the 2019 season, but for good, he finishes his career with a .500 record — 117-117. Although many will use that record against him when it comes to Hall of Fame conversations, it’s only fair to then point to his postseason record — and his Super Bowl record — as well. If your argument assumes a quarterback is solely responsible for his win-loss record, and not the other 52 players on the roster, then it has to apply across the board. But that’s a discussion for another day.
For now, Manning is just happy to help the team come together to snap their losing streak.
As evidenced by the video above, Manning was looking forward to that winning locker room celebration. Judging by the still shot taken below, he and his teammates had a great time snapping the losing streak.
Manning had two key takeaways for his teammates during his postgame breakdown. The first thing he did was tell them how special this win was for him and the next thing he did was give them a day off.
“I’ll see ya’ll Wednesday,” Manning said with his patented smirk.
Manning is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and he has previously stated that his time on the bench this season made him realize he doesn’t want to coach and he doesn’t want to be a backup quarterback in the NFL. Time will tell if another team takes a chance on him as their starter in 2020 — but in case no one bites — he can share in the joy of helping lead his team to a victory in his final game in front of the home crowd.