Eli Manning was not one complete answer into his post-game press conference Sunday following the Giants' 36-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles when he uttered the line you knew was coming. "I've gotta be smarter," Manning said. In fact, the Giants' quarterback said that twice in the opening moments of his meeting with reporters.
This, of course, after a complete Manning meltdown Sunday. He threw three interceptions on consecutive fourth-quarter possessions and added an incredible three intentional grounding penalties. The numbers say Manning completed 24-of-52 passes for 334 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Your eyes tell you that the fourth quarter was about the worst Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, has ever played since his rookie season.
What on earth is wrong with Eli?
Head coach Tom Coughlin thinks his quarterback is simply trying to do too much.
"I honestly believe he's trying so hard to get us a win he's put too much on himself," Coughlin said. "A couple of those plays were terrible.
"He's way, way too good a player to have these kinds of things happen."
Manning's first interception was a fluky play with the Giants trailing, 22-21. After a Kevin Boothe holding penalty put the Giants in an unfortunate first-and-20 situation Manning was rushed and hit as he threw, with the ball hitting one of his own linen in the helmet and fluttering helplessly into the air where Philly's Mychal Kendricks picked it off, giving the Eagles the ball at the Giants' 43-yard line with 10:49 remaining. The Eagles turned that into a touchdown.
On the next drive Manning threw an interception on a pass intended for Victor Cruz. Flushed out of the pocket under pressure he said he "knew it was gonna be tight," but tried to squeeze the ball in to his receiver. Instead, Philly's Brandon Boykin came up with it.
"Unfortunately I made the wrong decision there," Manning said. "I know I can't keep turning the ball over."
The third pick came on the next possession, with Manning trying to hit Hakeem Nicks on a slant pattern. Instead, Nicks stopped and Cary Williams came away with the pick.
"You're trying to make plays and you're trying to win," Manning said. "I know I can play better."