New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw for three touchdowns in Monday night’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers. As is usually the case with No. 10, there is a focus on what he didn’t do versus what he did.
In the second quarter, the Giants failed to score a touchdown on third-and-goal from the Niners 3-yard-line. On the play, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. lined up and noticed he was uncovered.
Beckham didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that he was uncovered by waving his arms or calling out to Manning. Manning, in turn, stuck with the play that was called: a shotgun run. The ball was handed off to Saquon Barkley. Barkley was stopped after a 1-yard gain. Aldrick Rosas kicked a 20-yard field goal to tie the score at 10.
Naturally, Manning received criticism for not noticing Beckham was wide open. Head coach Pat Shurmur was asked about the play on Wednesday.
“That play had a lot of different elements to it,” Shurmur said. “We had a favorable box to run the ball and the linebacker to the left, we just need to do a better job of pushing to him. What Eli did was not wrong. Had he chosen to throw it, Odell being open would have been right, too.
“By the way they lined up it was favorable to run it and had we blocked it properly, in my opinion it would have been a walk-in. But certainly, if he had thrown it, we’re looking for none-on-ones and no one was covering him.”
Manning threw just eight touchdowns in the team’s first eight games. The criticism coming into Monday night’s game was that many of Manning’s touchdowns came in “garbage time”. This was not the case against San Francisco, especially when he led the Giants on the 36th game-winning drive of his career.
Beating the 49ers would have been easier had Manning connected with Beckham on that third-and-goal in the second quarter. He stuck with the play that Shurmur called. What would have happened if he checked out of the play and the same result happened? Worse yet, what if he changed the play and the 49ers defense forced a turnover?
Manning’s career can be summed with the phrase “damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t”. When the Giants win, it’s in spite of him. If they lose, it’s all his fault.
The bottom line is the Giants offense looked better than it has for most of the season against San Francisco. Manning was decisive with the ball and made the plays necessary to get a win. In the NFL, there are no style points for victory. 2-7 is better than 1-8.